Though not even a full-length album, “Surf Nicaragua” represents a significant step in the maturation of U.S. Thrashers SACRED REICH. Whereas the band's debut release “Ignorance” was a cacophony of Speed Metal fury and to-the-point activist lyrics, “Surf Nicaragua” packs more sophistication into its six tracks, introducing more mid-tempo, palm-muted riffing for a crunchier, less raw sound, and taking a more intellectual approach to lyric writing.
The opener/title track is the perfect example of everything that SACRED REICH has done right here. An allusion to a famous scene from the movie “Apocalypse Now,” the song is a scathing indictment of the callousness with which U.S. policymakers implement decisions that result in death for so many in smaller nations. This point is further driven home by the use of the main melody from the Beach Boys song “Wipeout” as a breakdown about midway through the track. This juxtaposition of lightheartedness and fun with death and destruction skillfully illustrates the what the band has perceived of to be aloofness on the part of the Reagan Administration from the consequences of its policies.
The activist content runs through the entire disc. The band takes a stab at irony by including a cover of BLACK SABBATH's classic “War Pigs,” seemingly equating its anti-Vietnam sentiment with the politics of the day.
Musically, it is worth noting Phil Rind's increased willingness to sing on this release. While the Punk-inspired shouting is still here, tracks like “One Nation” and the aforementioned “War Pigs” demonstrate his desire to add a little melody to the vocals.
With “Surf Nicaragua,” SACRED REICH solidified their position as Thrash Metal's activist conscience. At the same time, they further innovated in a genre that by the time of this release was beginning to reach its creative peak. This is an essential purchase for anyone who considers themselves to be a serious fan of 1980's Thrash.
(Online January 16, 2009)