Dublin’s Voodoo Lounge has played host to more than a few memorable nights. Such as the night thrash metal legends, Sacred Reich, returned to the Emerald Isle in support of their first album in over twenty years’ Awakening’. A night demonstrating all that was and all that still remains when it comes to Sacred Reich. As well as all that which is sure to flourish. Providing they don’t extinguish their own flame. Reunited with original drummer Dave McClain (ex-Machine Head), as well as enlisting fresh blood in guitarist Joey Radziwill, Sacred Reich came armed and ready with a set built to destroy. And it did. Until some unsolicited preaching reduced what was a roaring fire to a hopeful ember clinging for dear life to an exhausted wick.
Direct descendants of the evening’s headliners, and the first opening act were Dublin’s own thrash metal outfit, Psykosis. Relentless energy coupled with irresistible charm, alongside air tight musicianship working effortlessly in tandem with an unassuming, yet meticulous craftsmanship: Psykosis had done the hard work and homework. Their sizeable audience being a testament to this. With a thirst for blood, banter, and pints, Psykosis delivered unapologetic thrash metal in the best way possible.
Leading into a heavy dose of retro-manic regurgitation, Night Demon, while solid in their execution and buzzing off their own performance, echoed the legends yet ceased to produce anything legendary of their own. If their energy and charisma cannot be faulted, their lack of originality certainly can. We, too, may love Thin Lizzy and Motörhead, but we already have those t-shirts. If it might be hard to dislike Night Demon, they make it very easy to decided whether you’d want to catch them live again.
Often when describing the opening moments of a show, phrases like “the place erupted”, and “all hell broke loose,” or “the crowd went wild,” serve as a convenient segway to depict something that was often far less unhinged. But not on this occasion. As Sacred Reich took to the stage, a greatest hits of epic opening moments saw all the depictions listed above being justifiably deserved as they catapulted the night into full swing. Iconic numbers such as “Divide and Conquer”, “Awakening”, “Free,” and “The American Way,” possessed the full capacity audience, and with little to no effort sent them flying into beautiful anarchy.
In a venue so tight that a carefree spat of hula-hooping could prove potentially fatal, some heavy moshing and five crowd surfers at any one time revived a wonderful sense of the lost art of heavy metal danger. At any minute crowd members were thrown into the air, propelled onto the stage, crashing hard before getting back up and stage diving back into a sea of their peers, Front-man/bassist Phil Rind, and veteran guitarist Wiley Arnett, couldn’t help but smile. In fact, they seemed to welcome it. And had the band-to-crowd banter ended here it would have been ideal. Instead, preachy anecdotes around “partying on a school night,” why “work shouldn’t exist,” and other cliched, politically motivated jargon killed the mood almost as effectively as telling your one night stand you can’t wait to meet their parents right in the middle of carnal pleasures. The raptures of a few hundred quickly declined to a boisterous handful, with their earlier, much beloved antics never quite being resurrected.
The night may have offered but a glimpse, yet when they hit their stride, Sacred Reich created moments that epitomise the beauty of thrash metal. A wild performance wholly indulged in by an audience who were ready, and willing, to follow them into the dark. Yet if these undisputed legends want to end on a bang rather than a whimper, it would be in the best interest of all involved to leave the “thrash metal Bono” personas backstage.