At Newcastle University, U.K., November 29, 2019

SACRED REICH (Live at Newcastle University, U.K., November 29, 2019)
Photo: Mick Burgess

It’s almost 30 years since American Thrash Metal titans, Sacred Reich, graced the stage at Newcastle’s legendary Mayfair Ballroom, so a return up North was well over due.

Night Demon provided a hugely impressive support slot with an aggressive take on traditional Metal for nigh on an hour with power packed, riff laden songs including Ritual and Dawn Rider drawing in a healthy sized crowd which grew steadily as their set progressed.

The strong vocals of Jarvis Leatherby and tight harmonies of drummer Dusty Squires and lead guitarist Armand John Anthony certainly brought a different dimension to a tried and trusted formula. After being joined on stage by a hooded, toast raising Reaper during Chalice, a spirited romp through Iron Maiden’s Wasted Years rounded off a set which had added a fair few new fans to their followers.

While Thrash’s Big Four of Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth have taken most of the plaudits over the years, there has always been a pack nestled close by who could match those Four blow for blow and Sacred Reich were right at the cutting edge of that group.

Although there has been a reshuffle within the ranks over the last couple of years with original members Jason Rainey and Greg Hall, departing for pastures new, bassist/vocalist Phil Rind wasted no time in bringing former Machine Head drummer Dave McClain back into the fold after almost 25 years away and new blood, Joey Radziwill, on guitar joining alongside longstanding standing guitarist Wiley Arnett.

With Awakening, their first album of new material in 23 years, hot off the press, Sacred Reich were primed and ready to go with Divide and Conquer and The American Way, the opening salvo of a set rammed with razor sharp riffs, pounding drums and powerful yet melodic vocals.

Their new album has clearly inspired Sacred Reich, with over half of the album featuring throughout the night, with Salvation and The Awakening sitting proudly amongst the older classics, Independent and One Nation, giving a supremely balanced set of mid paced Metal moving sparingly into the thrashier end of the spectrum when needed, which added to its hurricane storm impact. The sound throughout was crystal clear and packed a devastating punch.

The return of McClain was a master stroke. Although he may have borne more than a passing resemblance to Moby, his drumming was crunching powerful with pinpoint precision.

Sacred Reich have always been a little different to the rest, preferring to cover social and political issues than the more demonic elements of their peers but despite the intense subject matter and the furious riffing of the likes of Death Squad, frontman Phil Rind’s beaming smile and friendly on stage demeanour and positive inter-song banter was at odds with those weighty topics.

After such a long wait, the night seemed to speed by, which was testament to the commanding, hugely entertaining performance from the band as the set closing classic, Surfing Nicaragua, sparked a mini riot in the mosh pit.

Review and Photos By Mick Burgess


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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