Ignorance (1987, Metal Blade) - Prior to my initial 1998 Internet experiences, Sacred Reich's back catalogue was a mysterious and forbidden thing. Record stores had Independent, Columbia House had Heal and that one shitty live album (SPOILER ALERT), and that was it. So as soon as I got my financial aid money and discovered CDNow, (RIP, sorry you got ate by Amazon) I grabbed everything I could find, which was pretty much just three things. So as a kid who grew up on 90s post-thrash, groove-metal Sacred Reich, this was kind of a shock, and I really wasn't all that much into it compared to later stuff. I mean, it was still good, and you can't deny "Death Squad," no matter how lame you might be, but the production sucked compared to what I was used to, and it was all blazing-a-thousand-miles-an-hour Slayer worship. A lot of it is pretty repetitive, following a standard "here is The Riff for a minute or so, and now the song descends into a blur of Fast Part that lasts for the rest of the song" pattern. But as I grow old and shitty, I am more drawn to old and shitty things, and this is probably no worse than my second-favorite thing by these guys now. It's funny how bands like this start out all crazy and chaotic as teenagers, then slow down as they got older/fatter, and my tastes have kinda worked in the reverse order sometimes. Maybe I should go check out those first few Slayer albums again?
Surf Nicaragua EP (1988, Metal Blade) - This is the one, right here. If you only own one Sacred Reich album, it's probably either American Way or Independent, but if you only know one song, it's probably "Surf Nicaragua." That song goes down forever as this band's "Ace of Spades," the one you love, but secretly hate, because all live recordings are ruined by the crowd chanting for that one song the whole time. Kinda-unrelated, but it reminds me of this one live VHS bootleg I have somewhere of these dudes in Paris, and the whole time, the space between songs is filled with Phil Rind doing normal "is everybody having a good time tonight?" kinda banter, along with one loud, probably drunk French-accented dude screaming "SAAACRED REEEEIIIIICH" at the top of his lungs. Eventually, Phil kinda pauses, and is like "does anyone here understand a word I'm saying? Does anyone speak English? English? Parle-vous Anglais?" and is met by relative silence, followed by "SAAACRED REEEEEIICH" guy again. I don't think he said anything else for the rest of the show. Also, this has a cover of "War Pigs," and I think at some point, you had to do a Black Sabbath cover, or they'd revoke your license, and you'd have to play smooth jazz or be killed.
Alive at the Dynamo EP (1989, Roadracer) - Man, this band was really into the four-song EP format. It really is a bummer that they didn't just say to hell with it and put out a full-length live album around this time. Because by the time they finally did one, they had gone from enthusiastically playing festivals with a zillion people in attendance to trudging through a set at the local bar. (seriously, more on that later) So now that these dudes are really into re-releasing all the old stuff, surely someone has some tapes of the full '89 Dynamo set, right? I mean, someone actually managed to dig up professional video of it for the Surf Ignorance set, so at the very least, someone could clean that up for an audio release, right? I think my official Sacred Reich collector nerd Holy Grail would be an album of this entire show. Make it happen, Metal Blade or Roadrunner or whoever owns those tapes. But yeah, this is Sacred Reich at or near the height of their powers, playing in front of a huge crowd, and it rules.
The American Way (1990, Enigma - I have the Hollywood version) - This is Peak Sacred Reich. The one where they found a happy medium between where they had been and where they were going. Where it wasn't just hyper-fast chaos to turn off the normals anymore, but it wasn't yet fully just mid-paced songs about feelings yet, so the airbrushed van crowd hadn't backed off, either. They weren't big tour headliners, but they still got their logo in large print, underneath Sepultura but above Napalm Death and Sick of it All. They had a music video and the music video got played in Encino Man, and all was right with the world. Here was a band that was all primed and ready to break through to that level just beneath the mainstream, and the 90s looked they were going to be awesome for a minute. Now, the world at large has forgotten Sacred Reich ever existed, and the planet is swiftly spiraling into a fiery hell. Not saying the two are related, but it's a heckuva coincidence.
A Question single (1991, Hollywood) - If I'm not mistaken, this is the first thing they did with the Hollywood Records/Disney machine fully behind them, as well as the first thing with the new drummer. (the dude who's in Machine Head now) And man, this had to be a shock to the old heads still holding out hope for Ignorance #2. Here's a slow-ish song in the groove metal style of the day about examining one's life, and that had to go down hard for people wanting to hear Slayerized songs about rancid decay or whatever. The shame of the early 90s is that a lot of bands got comfortable and decided to broaden their horizons, only to have grunge kill their major label contract, sending them back down to a dark underworld where broad horizons are frowned upon.So pour one out, smoke one, eat a handful of candy, or whatever your vice-based tribute is for bands like Sacred Reich.
Independent (1993, Hollywood) - This is the Sacred Reich record of my youth, as well as the only one you could still find in stores by the time I finally got a Cd player, so it is special to me. And really, I'm pretty sure Popular Internet Opinion is the this band achieved worthlessness somewhere around The American Way, but screw you guys, this is so good. Just start-to-finish greatness, and anytime you look at the track listing and think "well okay, that song wasn't that great," and then you go back and listen, and it really was that great. I guess if I am to say anything negative here, it's that the instrumental accoustic song really kinda kills the momentum and might have worked better as track 11 instead of track 5, and that getting a big-name producer was a bad idea, because Dave Jerden pout that same weird buzzy guitar sound on here that worked on Dirt by Alice in Chains, but just sounded weird here. Also, the first few minutes of "Crawling" are a damn near note-for-note ripoff of "Hole in the Sky" by Black Sabbath, but it's still one of the best things on here, shut up, all of you. Now, all I ask of you, the internet at large, is for someone to hunt down that alternate goofy version of the video for the title track. I need to see Sacred Reich making cruel jokes at the expense of Phil Collins and Ugly Kid Joe, even though I wish only the best for them both.
Open Book single (1993, Hollywood) - This was something I picked up during the Great Sacred Reich Ebay Freakout of 2001 or so, when I was just grabbing up absolutely everything, and finding out that there was a Sacred Reich recording from 1993 that I had never heard was mind-blowing. So yeah, they did a cover of "The Big Picture," which was originally done by the Subhumans and later by M.D.C. (Millions of Dead Cops, etc.) and the CD lists it solely as an M.D.C. cover. So as a young nerd updating the discography section of a pretty sad and sparse early 2000s Sacred Reich Wikipedia entry, I felt like a real piece of shit when someone corrected me on that.
Crawling single (1993, Hollywood) - So, uhh, the b-side of this one is just a shorter version of the song, and there was probably no good reason to buy this. I guess a 6:30 runtime is the sort of thing that justifies a radio edit, but I don't own no damn radio station; I got no plans for that song. Whatever. It was like four dollars.
Dynamo Open Air, Eindhoven 4-6-'90 (1994, Hammerjack/bootleg) - Ahhhhh, now see, this i what I'm talking about. Sacred Reich at their Sacred Pinnacle, just one year removed from the Alive at the Dynamo EP, a full show of golden greatness. But this could have been so much better with a professionalized recording/mastering situation, instead of just an 8-track hooked up to the soundboard or whatever this was. Not to say that this sounds bad; it sounds great by any standard of bootleggery. But it could've been amazing, and again, seriously, whoever has the tapes from the '89 Dynamo show needs to come up off those things. Also, am I really to believe that during the Independent media blitz where Disney was sending Sacred Reich bongs to radio stations, that no one ever made professional tapes of a concert? Shit, that stuff has to be out there somewhere. Also, haha holy god damn, this goes for around fifty dollars on Ebay now, and I think I got mine for less than fifteen. Now that I'm thinking about it, it's not listed here due its vinyl-ness eliminating it from my CD Conversion Project, but if you see a Sacred Reich live bootleg LP called Trashing Frankfort, just save your money. All the songs are weirdly out of order and it sounds like someone recorded it on a My First Sony cassette recorder from across the street from the venue.
Heal (1996, Metal Blade - Japanese version) - This is the final Sacred Reich studio album, and it's a lot better than anyone ever gave it credit for, partially because no one ever listened to it, making any sort of credit-giving somewhat impossible. It continues in pretty much the same early 90s groove metal style as Independent, albeit with better production, (oddly enough because they couldn't afford a big name anymore) and roughly 90% of the songs on here are about feelings. Which is probably another reason no one liked this; metalheads hate feelings, and you're only supposed to sing about battle, violent death, or Satan. Granted, these are good things to sing about, but it's okay to have feelings, you guys. There's a little bit of experimentation here and there, though, with "Ask Ed" this big rockin' number with something that sounds suspiciously close to a slide guitar, and "Low," which is kind of a grungy thing that got a music video, despite being the worst song on here by far. The weird thing is that with the band's full dedication to the middle of the road, they somehow managed to begin and end this one with the two fastest, heaviest songs they ever wrote. "The Power of the Written Word" could pass for death metal with a different singer and completely different lyrics. Like maybe if the written word had the power to dismember your corpse or something, I dunno. I got the fancy Japanese import, and it's got a cover of the Fear song "Beef Bologna" tacked on at the end, and it's fun!
Still Ignorant (1987-1997) Live) (1997, Metal Blade) - You know, I really loved this so much when it came out. I was a deprived young boy in a pre-internet world, so all the Sacred Reich stuff I had access to was just Independent and Heal, and a faded memory of the video for "The American Way" when Headbanger's Ball used to come on. So this was amazing as sort of a roundabout greatest hits album, giving me my first exposure to stuff like "Death Squad" and "Surf Nicaragua." But man, after the passage of years and getting all the old stuff, (and hearing other live versions) this CD right here suuuucks asssss. They're playing sloppy as hell, Phil is slurring the vocals and barely even forming words most of the time, he says maybe ten total words between songs, and either no one was there or they just forgot to mic the crowd. It's just awful and sad, and kind of a shock that they theoretically lasted another three years before officially breaking up. And it's not just because of the shitty concert; on the back cover photo, both guitar players look like they're literally about to die, alternately from diseases that cause heavy bloating and extreme weight loss. It was probably a bad idea to even release this.
Ignorance & Surf Nicaragua (2007, Metal Blade - 2CD/1DVD special edition) - This thing was supposed to come out years before it did, but apparently, there's still some nefarious shit going on, where Hollywood Records owns the North American rights to everything and won't give it up, so this had to be a Europe Only release, sold on the sly to the U.S. through Metal Blade's Ebay account. Yeah, it's weird. And I have mixed feelings on this release, because on one hand, it's the only possible way to get the 1986 "Draining You of Life" demo tape or the Heal-era version of "Rapid Fire" they did with Rob Halford singing, and original versions of this album and EP have been out of print for a long time. But on the other hand, they really blew it with the remastering job here. It's the same old story of just cranking the volume up to eleven-million until you can't tell what's happening anymore. The real star here is the bonus DVD, that includes among other things (like the "Phil rind From Sacred Reich Will Draw a Mustache on You" Contest) the entire set from the '89 Dynamo Open Air festival. The only problem is that it's a PAL format DVD, so depending on your technology situation, the only place you can watch it might be on a computer. It might not make a difference now in a high-definition world, but I haven't tried it out lately on anything made in recent years. (I don't think it has a region code, at least, so it's probably worth a try in the ol' XBox)
The American Way (2009, Displeased Records - remastered + 7 bonus tracks) - This is another one pretty much for nerds only. It got brickwalled all to hell and back, so the actual album is borderline unlistenable on this version, and you're left with just the bonus tracks for consolation. And the six bonus tracks are demo tracks, and outside one of "State of Emergency" that's pretty much an entirely different arrangement, there's not much worth getting excited about. An extra bonus is a CD-ROM extra of the "American Way" video, but it legit looks ripped from VHS and a low-res video CD-ROM bonus track is some 1997 shit, really.
Live at Wacken (2012, Metal Blade CD/DVD) - YEEEEAAHHHH, here we go. Finally, a full-length Sacred Reich live album where they sound happy to be there in front of a crowd of zillion people that sound extremely happy to be seeing them. Even better, you also get a DVD of the whole damn thing, to boot. For some unknown reason, it took five years to release this, so Phil is on stage wearing one of those shirts with the date that George W. Bush would be leaving office, and oh man, jesus, how we we ever so naive to think things would ever be good again? Now, people are actually looking back fondly on the bumbling dipshit that literally destroyed any hope for the 21st century within his first term. Now, we're staring down the barrel of a demented, Nazi-sympathizing game show rapist who doesn't understand that nuclear bombs are bad, with the happy knowledge that he'll be pretty much running unopposed in 2020, if the cholesterol doesn't get him first. At least we still have The Metal though. When all hope s gone, turn to The Metal. The Metal is good. You love The Metal. Make Love to the Metal. Okay, I should stop.