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Sacred Reich: Live at Wacken

Ghosts are liminal beings, neither alive nor dead, yet somehow caught up in both states. Vampires are equally liminial, so are zombies. Indeed, our word for such beings--undead---is strange in that it doesn't connote the state of being alive so much as being not exactly dead. What does that mean? The words don't help us much; nevertheless, the undead constantly intrigue many of us. After all, they represent an impossible state, that of being both dead and alive at the same time.

I suppose Sacred Reich could be described as a kind of heavy metal ghost / vampire / zombie. They've been around since 1985 and even had a good run at first. Their politically-minded lyrics and thrash-oriented songwriting put them in the same creative camps as bands like Anthrax and, to my mind, the Dead Kennedys. They probably were never quite as good as these acts, but the classic song "Surf Nicaragua" may be said to partake of the same spirit as "Holiday Inn Cambodia." At their best, Sacred Reich was completely alive, vibrant, exciting. Since 2000, though, they've effectively been dead, a band left to the past, to memory. They reunite, from time to time, to play festivals like Wacken, the venue for this new release. According to the band's Wikipedia entry, there are no plans to make new music, only to revive the dead band for a show here and there. What we have in Sacred Reich, then, is an undead creature in the form of a band that is neither fully alive nor fully dead. They may not want our brains or our blood, but they certainly want some of our attention and, probably, some of our money. For fans, this is a mixed blessing at best. After all, they may get to hear Sacred Reich play and, more likely, can buy the CDs of these performances. The only problem, though, is that the songs themselves may or may not be tired, may or may not retain any interest.

I enjoyed listening to this release generally, but I confess to being not terribly engaged in the experience overall. Even the classic "Surf Nicaragua" seems a little too orderly, not quite messy enough to sound right. I don't want to condemn these guys to constant comparisons to their earlier recordings but I do miss that punky quality characteristic of the glory days. I was also looking forward to hearing the version of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" since I love that song and since I wanted to hear what Sacred Reich is doing with it now. Their cover was cool, a reminder that Sabbath wrote some great songs. On this album, though, it lacked any sense of magic. I shouldn't be too hard on these guys--they've had a storied career and continue to draw a certain amount of attention. Lots of bands would kill to sound this good, especially those who only play together at special events and don't record new music. For me, though, this album was good but not great, an undead figure wandering through the world, lonely and uncertain.

Track Listing:
1. The American Way
2. Administrative Decisions
3. One Nation
4. Love...Hate
5. Ignorance
6. Crimes Against Humanity
7. Who's to Blame
8. State of Emergency
9. War Pigs
10. Independent
11. Death Squad
12. Surf Nicaragua

Added: November 22nd 2012
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 2176
Language: english

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