Many bucketlists were filled this night when these guys FINALLY are performing in Vancouver. . .
Sacred Reich from Phoenix Arizona have found a way to perform at Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom as they are sandwiched between Creeping Death, and Municipal Waste with Carcass as the headliner. There is a lot of the “old guards” of metal here tonight (including myself) who have been awaiting this band for over 34 years, the last Vancouver visit was in 1989.
The band itself is made up of Phil Rind on vocals, Wiley Arnett (lead guitar), Dave McCain (drummer) and a young dude on rhythm guitar by the name of Joey Radziwill. They have been around since 1985.
Sacred Reich had split up back in 2000 and reunited in 2006 and did various tours since then with only four full length albums at the time. In 2019 they made their first album since 1996 called Awakening and started touring extensively in the United States and other countries around the world, except never really coming close to the Pacific Northwest. Believe me, I was one of those guys that would follow their Facebook page and always ask “When are you coming to Vancouver or Seattle?”. Sooner or later I began to give up on that, and figured the day would never come. Let’s face it, they are not getting any younger and when one of your favorite bands is aging, you’re always wondering if it’s the last tour. Sadly one of the founding members, Jason Rainey, passed away in 2020 and Greg Hall I believe was let go around 2018. Would I ever see any of these songs performed live?
Being that I am photographing these guys tonight is extra special and having one of your favorite bands perform mere inches away from you for the first time, is more than just a little thrilling!
They started off with one from their current Awakening album called “Divide & Conquer” as the band breeches the stage and like a fan boi, I scream out “34 years you guys!” and Wiley gave me a fist bump and reassuring smile that gave me sense that we finally made it. The song comes off A LOT better live than on the album and I see a lot of grey hair and canes flying in the moshpit.
Next song up is “American Way” from the American Way album (1990) and frankly I could not contain the smile on my face as I sang along with trying to take pictures. Believe me, I wanted to ditch the camera gear and just headbang on the actual stage. Phil’s voice sounded like back on the American Way album too.
Song 3 is “Manifest Reality”, as the start of that one is pretty chuggy at the beginning with guitarist Joey headbanging in unison. Wiley is scorching on the guitar solos on that one and ex-Machine Head drummer Dave McCain is hitting those drums solidly.
Song 4 is a deeper cut with “One Nation” from the Surf Nicaragua EP. I wanted to barf, as this is one my favorite songs. I have this picture disk and I was always playing it on my turntable as a kid, afraid I would wear the damn thing out from overplaying it! It’s characterized by a great grinding guitar riff with Phil’s menacingly angry and somewhat political vocals.
Song 5 “Salvation”, is another song with some great drumming from McCain at the beginning, a total headbanging and moshing song. They were not ripped off with sound tonight as I take my ear plugs and enjoy Phil’s powerful bass line thumping my chest
Song 6, well, ha, when this riff begun for “Ignorance” I almost wet my pants. I bought this cassette brand new in 1987 called Ignorance and this is the song that engulfed my brain into this band. I mean what a moshing anthem. As a young dude I would play air guitar in front of a mirror on this one and thrash away on this one mocking Wileys sick solo at the start. The production on that album is so heavy and still stands up today. Song 7 is “Awakening” from Awakening of course, and if your head was not banging at the 3 minute mark with that filthy breakdown, then there is something wrong with you.
Song 8, “Independent” from 1993’s Independent album. This is another older one that you can easily sing along to the chorus to.
“Old farts and the whipper snappers everybody together , fucking beautiful” as Phil remarks. It was fun talking to young people in the Commodore as not many have heard of Sacred Reich and that this was their first time hearing their music.
Ok so things start to get worrisome for me as a couple songs need to be played, and I am happy Song 9 is another KILLER thrash song with “Death Squad” of Ignorance. I almost died and gone to hell after hearing the opening riffs of this one. This is the ultimate thrash song and I was in my glory Hearing this and see them perform this was surreal to me. IF I didn’t have my camera gear around me, I would’ve been in that moshpit! “Those that oppose me meet death!” as Phil climaxes the song. I am ecstatic as it was played to perfection with Wiley’s tremolo bar death dive at the end of his solo.
Song 10, and of course, they could not leave without playing “Surf Nicaragua”. It’s pretty rare to see that one of your bands best songs was from an EP. This is one that sounded amazing and watching McCain doing that beach boys bit in the middle was sick to see! Wiley shredding the solo, Phil get the crowd involved with “Surf Nicaragua!”, as it was a thrashers delight.
IF I had a couple of whiny complaints, this would be it. Since coming back for the first time like seemed forever, it would’ve been nice just to play a couple off the Awakening album and not four. Concentrate on the Ignorance album for a couple more please. Ignorance was such a amazing piece of work that had some other sick slappers on it as well like. “Victim of Demise”, “Sacred Reich” and “Administrative Decisions”. ALSO, my other suggestion is bring some autographed albums and T-shirts of Ignorance to merch! I was ready to shell out money for that!
But all in all, I was so incredibly happy with this performance and that they are in even in Vancouver. I think Sacred Reich were happy too, as you can see it all over Phil’s face as they played Afterward there was a lot of the old guys wandering around in a daze, blown away that they finally saw their heroes. I am really hoping they can come back and play a HEADLINE show with like the ENTIRE Ignorance album. Can you just imagine the thrash education the “young whipper snappers” would get? Mosh heaven.