In the middle of Summer with the blistering heat, there isn’t a better way to let loose some energy than at a thrash gig. Five years ago, politically-charged Arizona thrash legends Sacred Reich made their return to Scotland after 20-plus years. At the time, I thought I’d never get to see them again unless it was at a festival. Fast forward to 2017 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their seminal debut, Ignorance, Sacred Reich announced a European tour with the home of the Moshville Times being date number three. Especially with the Glasgow show being 2 days after my birthday, a thrashing good time as a belated present to myself was certainly on the cards.
Prior to the gig, Sacred Reich were hanging out by their merchandise stand selling their own shirts and meeting fans in an open meet and greet. As far as I’m aware, they’re doing this on every date of the tour. Fans queued up politely to buy shirts, talk to the band, ask for autographs and take pictures with the guys. Personally, I think it’s cool to see Sacred Reich doing an open meet and greet where so many bands rush in and out the venue before the gig starts and when the gig ends. It really gives back to the fans and I hope to see more bands doing the same.
Opening proceedings were Glasgow’s own raging crossover lads Kingpin (7). Despite suffering from the usual “Opening-Band-Syndrome” where the crowd are starting off small and still piling into the venue, and half of them are still shaking hands with the headliners at the merch table or queueing at the bar, the band remained full of energy. The set ranged from blasting punk-thrash mania to immensely crushing breakdowns. The Cathouse in my experience can be dodgy with the sound but for Kingpin (in fact, all of the bands), they got it just right.
The vocals were a particular highlight with the intense throat-shredding crossed with powerful growls never relenting. The growling vocals were reminiscent of one George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher from Cannibal Corpse which makes for an interesting sound with the band’s crossover thrash noise. Kingpin’s hyper-aggressive punk thrash makes me think of Hatebreed after a crate of Tennents Special Brew and a bottle of Buckfast engaged in a bar brawl in one of Glasgow’s many dive-y establishments. Having seen Kingpin before, the band deliver and are definitely a band to watch out for in the UK underground heavy music scene.
Following proceedings was Lancashire lads Damnation’s Hammer (8). Showcasing a different kind of extremity to their predecessors, the band’s sound is much sludgier and more varying in tempo. The set was a little slow to start but once the Celtic Frost-esque fuzzy grooves kicked in, more and more heads began nodding. Above the rumbling riffs, the guitars commanded an array of trippy-sounding delay effects coupled with guitar divebombs and more. The sound was mesmerizing, reminiscent of watching Black Sabbath for me.
The audience seemed to agree with their hypnotic head swaying reaction to the band, as opposed to intense slamming mosh pits. These sounds were like the soundtrack to a nightmarish descent into Hell, as exemplified in the performance of the band’s new single “Temple of the Descending Gods”. Damnation’s Hammer brought a different style to the overall gig and it went down well with the Glaswegian crowd. Yet another example of a fine upcoming band from the UK extreme metal underground that’s destined to make waves.
Closing the evening was of course politically-charged Arizona thrash legends Sacred Reich (9). As soon as the intro recording of “Layed to Rest” began, the bodies which now filled the Cathouse’s gig floor more or less to capacity, readied themselves for the intense thrash that was coming in the next few minutes. As soon as the rapid thrash beats kicked in under the simple, yet furious guitar riffs, the crowd went wild.
Through SR classic after classic, the mosh pit raged with flailing limbs and slamming torsos. The band’s performance was tight, and heavy with a great sound which was reminiscent of the actual sound on the records the set drew from.
The setlist primarily focused on Sacred Reich’s first three releases (Ignorance, Surf Nicaragua EP, and The American Way) with a foray into the title track of their third full-length, Independent. The latter track of course having a particular resonance in Glasgow, went down a storm as all the songs did. Through Ignorance classics like “Victim of Demise” and “Violent Solutions” to “Love…Hate”, “I Don’t Know” and “State of Emergency”, Glasgow’s thrashers raged hard as the pit grew in intensity, heads banged harder and crowd surfers went flying above.
Big singalongs naturally happened alongside “Who’s to Blame?” and SR’s awesome cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” which stays very true to the original but is played with a much more modern and heavier sound that complements Mr Iommi’s classic riffs perfectly.
Frontman Phil Rind’s crowd banter was a real treat too. It seems that Sacred Reich’s biggest memory of their past trips to Glasgow is our accents and when reminded of this, the crowd instantly starting chanting that familiar “PHUL! PHUL!” and Rind’s face lit up. He also treated us to an anecdote about a time when SR drummer Greg Hall played some live shows with Slayer in the past, prompting the crowd and Rind’s exchange of “Greg’s a bad motherfucker! Who’s a bad motherfucker?” – “GREG!”.
A particular highlight of the gig for me personally was the setup and performance of “One Nation” where Rind and his song talk of the world working together for peace and equality despite everyone’s differences. Heavy metal isn’t always about violence, Satan, getting drunk, and Tolkien-esque fantasies – it’s about hope; the hope for a better world.
Ending the show with arguably their most fun track, “Surf Nicaragua”, Sacred Reich’s energetic performance in Glasgow was a winner. The sheer number of crowd-surfing maniacs in the last number was testament to that.
Evidently everyone had a good time, band and fans alike, and ultimately that’s what a gig should be about. If there was one complaint, which I think most denim and leather-clad attendees that night would agree on, was that the band didn’t play “Death Squad”. Most likely due to time constraints for the venue to open its usual Friday club night, the band opted to make us choose between that and “Surf Nicaragua” for their ending.
Still, Sacred Reich killed it so the lack of one song should not be a big complaint. Here’s hoping Sacred Reich return, and much sooner than it took for this gig – 5 years to get another live SR fix is too long for this thrasher!
Sacred Reich: facebook