When the discussion of thrash metal circulates at concerts, your local venue or maybe even around the barbecue pit, the usual suspects come to mind even beyond The BIg 4. Sacred Reich, however, often doesn’t even fall on the radar. Some of that may be due to its inactivity from 2000-06. But considering the band formed in the mid-’80s out of Arizona during arguably the peak of the metal scene, the biggest reason for Sacred Reich’s relative obscurity may remain the biggest mystery as well..
But it’s no time like the present for original vocalist/bassist Phil Rind to round up the gang again. And with a couple of twists. It was all on display last Saturday night at the Rock Box as Sacred Reich reminded an intimate crowd of maybe a couple hundred just how underrated it is. Get a taste by watching ATM’s footage of three songs below.
Even more relevant to many than the band’s return was who was playing the drums. Former S.A. Slayer — and, oh by the way, Machine Head — sticksman Dave McClain enjoyed a homecoming of sorts, returning to Sacred Reich last year for his second stint with the group. San Antonians, of course, remember McClain largely for his involvement with S.A. Slayer, which is widely known for the one “Slayer vs. Slayer” show in history it played on the same bill as The Big 4 version Nov. 30, 1984, at The Villa Fontana. McClain certainly didn’t forget, performing Saturday night in a Slayer — yes, his version — T-shirt. His former bassmate, Donnie Van Stavern of Riot V and S.A. Slayer, was on hand as well.
While McClain returned to Sacred Reich in 2018, rhythm guitarist Joey Radziwill is even newer — and much younger. Sacred Reich’s unique timeline as a band couldn’t have been put in much more perspective than when Rind announced the 22-year-old Radziwill hadn’t been born the last time they made an album — 1996’s Heal. But that’s about to change as Sacred Reich will release Awakening on Aug. 23. They unveiled the title track among other older favorites such as “Surf Nicaragua,” “Free” and “Ignorance” (watch ATM’s Facebook Live footage here; setlist in 45-photo slideshow below).
Sworn Enemy, out of New York, was the only other national act on the bill, and they hit hard. Touring in support of Gamechanger, released six weeks ago, Sworn Enemy can be seen in action here before ending its set with “We Hate” below.
Wulfholt and Beyond Black delivered the goods from a local standpoint. Wulfholt, which competed in March during the regional portion of the 2019 Wacken Metal Battle competition, will return to the Rock Box on Friday, June 21, opening for Nita Strauss and Kore Rozzik (tickets here). In the meantime, watch them perform “Truth Shrouded” here.
Beyond Black certainly didn’t mess around with easing into its set to kickstart the evening. Not when you only have 30 minutes to set the table for the featured acts. As an added bonus for Alamo True Metal, which was privileged to be the only publication on hand covering the show, Beyond Black performed in surprisingly bright lighting, mostly nixing the dreaded red display that virtually all opening acts — and even some recent headliners such as Hatebreed and Godsmack — utilize. Bassist Steve Pena acknowledged the group is working on new material, which they revealed here. You can also watch them close out with “Deviant Saint” below and check out their ReverbNation page here.