SacredReich-WackenWith a trio of superb albums to their name, along with the classic “Surf Nicaragua” EP, Sacred Reich bowed out in the mid-90s following the slightly lacklustre “Heal” album (by no means bad, but not up there with their best) and left me genuinely gutted. One of the also-rans of the thrash movement, they were better than many of their contemporaries that were far more prominent, but sadly never really broke big.

It was with mixed emotions that I learned of their 2007 reunion, but having seen them live since then (most recently at this year’s Hellfest) I can assure you there was nothing to be worried about. Still a force to be reckoned with the mighty Reich have kicked arses across the globe on a fairly frequent basis for the last five years and resolutely refused to record a new album. The band have made it plain that they love playing shows and giving us fans a bit of a nostalgia trip but they don’t want to risk tarnishing their legacy by making new music which may not live up to the likes of “American Way” and “Independent”. I salute the sentiment wholeheartedly but can’t help thinking these fellas could still pack a punch if they went back into the studio.

Nevertheless, for now we have to make do with this live release which captures their triumphant set at this year’s Wacken festival. The sound wasn’t great and the performance isn’t always as tight as it could be, but that’s exactly how Sacred Reich always were. This is fast, furious, aggressive, unpolished circle-pit inducing fun. The lyrics were politically charged, socially aware and always astute, but that didn’t mean the band took themselves too seriously or ever engaged in too much between-song preaching (Mustaine take note) and it’s refreshing to hear a lack of overdubs or tweaks, leaving this release gloriously raw and energetic.

Phil Rind sounds like he’s having the time of his life and the exuberance pours out of the speakers with every note. I listened to this for the first time on my ipod on a train and was instantly lost in the barrage of ‘American Way’, ‘One Nation’ and ‘Ignorance’ – so much so that I was absent-mindedly bashing away on the table and mouthing all the words until I realised how many stares I was getting. Featuring their live set staple cover of ‘War Pigs’ (even better than Faith No More‘s verison) and a storming ‘Surf Nicaragua’ this is 60 minutes of fist-pumping joy and abandon.

If you missed them first time round this is a fine selection of their best tracks. If you’re old and ugly enough to remember them from their heyday then you need this album to remind you how great thrash was before it went into a temporary coma when grunge came along. Long may they continue.

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