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The American Way
Released: 1990, Metal Blade / Enigma Records
I miss Sacred Reich…BIG TIME! I hadn’t listened to anything from them in quite a while because, as you may know, the band is now defunct. For some reason or another I threw on their album THE AMERICAN WAY the other day and was reminded of how cool they are. In my opinion, this album represents the band’s turning point or the album on which their subsequent sound is based. Their previous albums had more of a hardcore meets thrash metal feel. On THE AMERICAN WAY the hardcore sounds are virtually non-existent and the band’s sound fully emerged. That sound is all about Sacred Reich’s main ingredient - groove. Songs contain solid guitar rhythms, which are based in thrash but not to the point of insane aggression. The band is not overly technical, but the combination of their crunching guitars and straining vocals is unique, separating them from the other bands from the 90’s who played thrash metal. The lineup on this album is: Phil Rind (bass/vocals), Wiley Arnett (lead guitar), Jason Rainey (rhythm guitar), Greg Hall (drums). This line-up existed for all recordings except for the albums INDEPENDENT (1992) and HEAL (1996) on which the drum spot was filled by Dave McClain.
THE AMERICAN WAY opens with the track “Love…Hate.” Not the best song on here to open with because it’s followed by the awesome title track – “The American Way.” The simple riff in this is one of those riffs that, although simple, is something you can’t get out of your head after hearing it. The chorus presents us with Phil’s excellent sense of rhythm and timing with how the phrasing fits over the riff. Lyrically, this song is something that Sacred Reich have always had something to say about which has made them sometimes known as a “political” band. The lyrics are about society and how things have become corrupt, greed driven, dishonest, etc… For example the chorus reads: “This was once the land of dreams. Now these dreams have turned to greed. In the midst of all this wealth the poor are left to help themselves. A capitalist's democracy no one said that freedom's free. Lady liberty rots away. No truth, no justice the American way.” The next track on the album that grabs my attention is “Crimes Against Humanity.” I love how the song builds up beginning with a neat drum pattern, then the bass comes in over this and the vocals start over the bass/drums. Phil’s voice is great on this! After a few bars of this the guitars come in a rising crescendo of awesome metalness!! The lyrics from this song are about a topic which was popular to sing about in the early 90’s with other bands like Testamnet and Nuclear Assault to name a few chiming in and asking in general “what will it take to make us see” that the way of life that results in acid rain, pollution, etc is in fact a crime. Lately, I haven’t read many lyrics about this topic. Since 1990 not much has changed and the pollution problem is not going anywhere that’s for sure. The next stand out track is “Who’s To Blame” – again the lyrical topic is very much a product of the time (can you remember the PMRC bullshit?) from which this was written. The topic this time is about how bands (often metal) are used as a convenient scapegoat for teen suicide. It is much easier to say “Jonny killed himself because of that devil music” then it is to look to the real problem – the parenting and their lack of involvement in a child’s life….they are really the root of the problem, not the heavy metal. The opening lines are humorous, even though a serious message is conveyed: “Jonny can you hear me turn that music down. You're making too much noise, I mean it do it now. All that stuff is evil, Ozzy, Judas Priest. There's backwards messages in that stuff that leads you to the beast.” Haha….whatever eh!!
I could go on and talk about every song on here because I love the album, but I’ll leave it at that and with something for you to discover should you decide to dig up this killer album. On a related note…oddly enough, the first interview I ever did for Metal-Rules.com was with Wiley from Sacred Reich! I would love to chat with him again to get the scoop on where the members of the band are now, what they are at and to also find out why the band disbanded sometime in 1999/2000 shortly after their live album STILL IGNORANT (1997). Perhaps I’ll have some luck in getting a proper scoop on what they are up to and why there will be no more new Sacred Reich albums….or will there? One can only hope…….
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