Sacred Reich – Live at Wacken CD/DVD (Metal Blade Records)

Wednesday, 27th March 2013
Rating: 6.5/10

Form in the 80’s. Release a few albums. Break up in the 90’s. Reunite ten years (or more) later. Sounds like a familiar formula, eh? Metal doesn’t shy away from the reunion bug; in fact, it embraces it just as much as other forms of music. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out that if the likes of Max-era Sepultura or Kiske-era Helloween were to reform, tickets would be going like hot cakes. People love nostalgia, even if it’s for a third-tier thrash band like Phoenix’s Sacred Reich, who haven’t released in a new album in over 15 years, but are able to enjoy the fruits of the European festival circuit.

Their Live at Wacken CD/DVD set chronicles their 2007 return to European shores, this, after reuniting the same year. The band’s reformation was hardly ballyhooed, ranking several tiers below the recent re-groupings of fellow 80’s/90’s thrash mavens Anacrusis and Believer. In earnest, Sacred Reich simply doesn’t have the back catalog or worthy “classic” album to substantiate any real fuss, with only their Surf Nicaragua EP serving as their sole standout moment. Therefore, it’s probably with little fanfare that Live at Wacken will come and go; it’s another one of those unnecessary live outings released to keep a veteran band in the public’s eye.

Twelve songs comprise the set, including a cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” which naturally, elicits the loudest crowd response. The band’s groove-thrash sound is simply average at best, with singer/bassist Phil Rind remaining the loneselling point amidst lackluster riffs and arrangements. Sure, “Administrative Decisions” is mildly fun, but the sub-thrash of “State of Emergency” and “Death Squad” are proof of a band that entered the 80’s thrash gauntlet a little too late.

Hard to imagine a strong market for this, and given the band’s unwillingness to enter the studio to record a new album, Live at Wacken paints Sacred Reich as a tired and old band, only looking to capitalize upon the marginal success they achieved. They’re probably better than that, but you wouldn’t know it via this route…

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