Following an album-recording hiatus of more than 20 years, American thrash metal band Sacred Reich are back in formidable force with their long-awaited fifth album Awakening. Delivering the blistering thrash grooves coupled with socially conscious writing that Sacred Reich have been renowned for over their decades-long career, their first full-length offering in 23 years may also serve to smash some commonly held heavy metal stereotypes with its themes of positivity and spiritual growth founded in frontman Phil Rind’s own Vajrayana-based Buddhist practice.
Two tracks have already been released from the highly anticipated album, which is due to drop on 23 August. The title track “Awakening,” which premiered on 18 June, and “Manifest Reality,” which came out on 17 July, both provide copious quanitites of the fast, thundering riffs fans have been waiting for, as a girthy foundation for lyrics that explore a maturing and more nuanced outlook on life inspired by the Dharmic search for a deeper understanding of the world and our underlying reality.
“I’ve been practicing Tibetan Buddhism for the past 20 years,” Sacred Reich frontman and bassist Rind told UK-based heavy metal magazine Kerrang!. “It’s been absolutely life-changing to me, and I wouldn’t be here without it. It’s the biggest positive thing in my entire life.” (Kerrang!)
The titular “Awakening,” announces Sacred Reich with old-school pounding riffage and powerful grooves that underpin lyrics echoing the Buddhist themes of finding peace and strength within oneself. The track is accompanied by an equally honest and starkly bare bones video that brings the band member up close, sharing the visible imprint of the intervening decades.
The most recent track, “Manifest Reality,” accompanied by a creeping, murky, surreal dance video, “shows the struggle we face day to day, moment to moment in overcoming the habits we have created that hold us back,” said Rind. “The conflict between our best and worst instincts. Releasing grief and overcoming isolation. The yearning for something better.” (Noisecreep)
Reflecting on his own awakening and evolving attitude toward life, Rind credits his Buddhist practice as the pivotal element: “Before that I was a raging ego, selfish piece of shit, crappy human. It’s definitely attributed to my teachers and the last 20 years that I’ve spent with them. That’s been the greatest thing in my whole life. I’m not trying to push it on anybody, everybody’s got to find their own thing, but that’s what works for me. . . . I think just a lot of it is just understanding your own mind and the kind of troubles that we make for ourselves.” (Revolver)
Originally formed in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1985, Sacred Reich are lauded as one of the seminal bands that helped to lead the second resurgence of thrash metal in the late 1980s with a consistent output of high quality socially conscious and politically aware metal, alongside outfits such as Destruction, Dark Angel, Death Angel, and Testament.
Sacred Reich quickly established a reputation for lyrically compelling, yet musically accessible thrash metal with an emphasis on sociopolitical commentary addressing topics such as the horrors of apartheid, environmental destruction, the gaping flaws in the mainstream political arena, and social decay and instability. The quartet eventually called it quits in 2000.
“The band had split up, my family was splitting up. I always knew that I loved playing music and loved being in a band, and I was really fucking depressed for a long time, Rind recalled of the events that brought him to focus on Buddhism at the age of 30. “It’s like, ‘You dummy, you did it all. Every action, every thought that led you to this place, it’s karma. You have nobody to blame but yourself. And if you’d like to change things, you have to create different actions if you want different results.’ And that’s when I started practicing.” (Noisecreep)
Rind resurrected Sacred Reich as a live act with a loyal cult following in 2006. But it wasn’t until last year that Rind felt inspired to return to the recording studio with fresh material.
“There’s a line in one of the songs—in “Manifest Reality”—and it says, “When I was young, I had to change the world. Now I know I can only change myself,” said Rind. “I’m just trying to do my best. My lyrics on the new record are overwhelming, positive, encouraging, and hopeful. Sometimes we forget that things have always been the way they are. The wonderful and the terrible come at the same time and it depends on what we focus on.” (Revolver, Kerrang!)
Sacred Reich’s Phil Rind is Thrash Metal’s Most Positive Buddhist (Kerrang!)
Sacred Reich detail new album Awakening (Metal Hammer)
Experience Sacred Reich’s Spine Tingling Return in Manifest Reality (Noisecreep)
Sacred Reich: Thrash Icons on Trump, Buddhism, First Album in 20 Years ‘Awakening’ (Revolver)
Sacred Reich announces highly anticipated new album, ‘Awakening’ (Metal Blade Records)
Sacred Reich (Facebook)