Resurrecting the Reich
An Interview with Sacred Reich
by: Adrian Bromley
Few thrash metal bands have survived the destructive stomp of commercialism or the neglect many listeners have given them while moving onto other genres of music. Still around since forming in 1986, thrash metallers Sacred Reich are living proof that thrash metal is alive and well in this day and age with their latest effort _Heal_.

_Heal_ is the quartet's fourth full-length album (following 1987's _Ignorance_, _American Way_ (1990), and 1993's brilliant yet dismally selling _Independent_, as well as a few EPs) and with this album, the band has regrouped and brought in a more 'back to the basics' kind of approach, a direction avoided with _Independent_. The band felt that a heavier album with grittier songs needed to be produced in order to get the band back to what they once were.

"On the last record I thought it was a really good record. I just thought there was missing something," begins singer/lyricist/bassist Phil Rind about their last record, _Independent_. "I think it was missing our roots of where we were from or what we were about. It was something we felt we needed to re-establish. I think maybe we got a bit too comfortable with the last record but we thought we were missing out so we decided to make a record that was what we are." And what sets _Heal_ apart from their 1993 LP _Independent_? "The songs," responds Rind, "there wasn't a song like "Blue Suit, Brown Shirt" or "The Power Of The Written Word" on the last record. I think we got away from that type of material for a record but I think we realized it in time."

Along with guitarists Jason Rainey and Wiley Arnett and drummer Dave McClain, Rind and his ensemble of thrashers are not ashamed of the direction they took with the last effort. They just felt that it was another point in their careers. "You just write where you are at at that time. I think it was a transition record with the way we were at Hollywood Records [their label prior to signing back to Metal Blade] and with a new drummer. It was a weird thing. I mean no one ever told us not to write heavy songs. I don't know why it was done that way," explains Rind. "You gotta do what you like and you can't ignore a part of you."

Seeing that a large percentage of bands Sacred Reich played with or shared the same musical genre with in the mid-80's and early 90's are all gone for the most part, does Rind see that metal has fallen from the clutches of the mainstream and back into the underground? "I definitely think so because things go in cycles. There was definite underground and then there was an overexposure, 'flavor of the week' vibe to metal and that kind of music but that was from record companies and people in the media. I think that when things get too big it has to revert back to where it originally came from to survive. That is happening right now."

And his views on the band's reason for sticking around? Any secrets to their longevity? "I think the main thing was that we stuck it out. We had good times and bad times and we had in between times." Rind reveals, "There was a point in time when I quit the band not long ago, about a year ago or so. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do and I wasn't happy. It was strange but it gave me a new appreciation of what I do."

He continues, "Sometimes it is easy to get caught up and not look around and realize what you got. That was a tough time for me personally. The record [_Heal_] was done when all these things started to happen. I was confused. I think you get to a point in your life when you reach the crossroads and there are a lot of things going on and you got to stop and not make any rash decisions. Luckily I was smart enough to realize that I was going through a thing and I had to get through it. It [the problem] had nothing to do with the band and luckily I worked it out and I feel very comfortable with what I am doing, who I am and where I am at.

"I don't know what brought it about but it is a thing that just happened and it is good that it happened because it gave me a renewed enthusiasm and commitment and joy and happiness," says Rind.

And things have been getting better for the band as they signed back on with their original label, Metal Blade, and are just loving the new album. "I think this is the best one. Every time we do a new record I think it is the best record we have ever done. I think that is because every time we get better at what we do and we learn stuff along the way." And with that growth does Rind find that the album's songs and lyrics come easier this time around, especially after all these years of songwriting? "I don't think it gets easier or harder. It is just that it is still the same as far as the mystery of the creative process is concerned. It is a mystery of what makes the average song come about."

So with the problems aside and things back on track was there a reasoning for _Heal_ to be the album title? "We always try to pick album titles that mean different things. Heal relates to physical healing which is representative by the cover [a picture of a full knee restructuring operation]. Heal can also relate to physical, mental, spiritual or emotional healing too. We just felt it to be an appropriate album title for the album."

Seeing the admiration for album number four, does Sacred Reich have any set plans for the immediate future? Aside from a tour of both North America and Europe, which is a major commitment, Rind reveals the urge to get back into the studio soon. "I'd like to make another record. People always ask me, 'What do you want to do to be more successful?' and I think and I would want to make another record within a year of the last one. Maybe that will be some way to break the mold of the release of Sacred Reich records," laughs Rind, noting the long gap between their albums. He finishes by saying, "We want to do that ... though there are no guarantees."

(article submitted 9/2/1996)

1/1/1998 A Bromley 7 Sacred Reich - Still Ignorant: Live 1987-1997
1/17/1996 A Bromley 9 Sacred Reich - Heal
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