SACRED REICH / JUNGLE ROT / CROSS EXAMINATION
Date: 28th June, 2011
Venue: Reggies Rock Club
Ticket: $34 (€24)
It was a sweet evening with a bright sun and ideal temperatures for a walk in the park. But, walking in the park was not an option since SACRED REICH were in Chicago after almost 15 years. It is true that this Thrash band has turned into an exclusive live act and has left the music recordings to the side, so there were no high expectations for this live, apart from the sentimental value. This was the way of my thinking while driving down to Reggies trying to figure out what is going with the band from Arizona that decided to get on the road after a long time.
After waiting outside the venue, since 19:00 was mentioned in the venue’s site that was the time for the door opening and not the gig starting time, the METAL KAOZ editors went inside along with 20 metalheads. It seems that the rest of the Chicago metalheads knew the starting time...
DimK: The first band that showed up on the stage was CROSS EXAMINATION. I was absolutely unaware of their music, so I was curious to see what band the promoters had chosen as a supporting act to the legendary SACRED REICH. Just by looking the band members getting the gear up, I had some clouds of doubt surrounding me due to their young age and the ‘I have drunk too many beers’ looks. On the other hand, beer and Metal is a perfect match, right? No, at least in CROSS EXAMINATION’s case, since there was an atmosphere ‘let’s have fun and play less music’… and so they did; there was a lot of chatting (nothing worth mentioning), some terrible jokes and music that wanted to be Crossover. Ok, the guitar duo was very good, especially the guy handling the leads but that was all. The punk inspired rhythm section was sloppy and the singer… well, he was not singing but yelling out the lyrics, jumping up and down and drinking beer. At least, they had some friends in the venue who knew their stuff and caused some chaos running around the venue in an attempt to form a mosh-pit. Maybe I am too old for this, but watching a bunch of kids blowing some steam, have fell out of my cup of tea a long time ago.
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MariaV: We knew what to expect from the Death Metal kings of Wisconsin, after listening to their latest opus, “Kill On Command” about hundreds of times (you may also read METAL KAOZ review HERE). Trying to forget though the bad performance of CROSS EXAMINATION which I would characterize it as annoying, JUNGLE ROT didn’t take them long to step onstage and create some chaos, warming us with the right way before SACRED REICH’s performance. And I tell you, the Death Metal quartet did a hell of a job up there!
Dave Matrise, Geoff Bub and James Genenz wore the best smile they had and took their positions onstage, in front of 80 people that were at that time inside Reggies to taste of some true US Death Metal - for the rest of the attendees that didn’t catch JUNGLE ROT’s show, I have to say it was your loss. With “Their Finest Hour” that opens their latest album, JUNGLE ROT hammered our heads with the finest blend of Death meets modern Metal sound. Of course, there were people that preferred to watch JUNGLE ROT from the seats, near the stage and that was a fact that made Dave told them: “this is not a show that you can watch from your seats! Where is the old school feeling? Come on!” but nobody stood up. I don’t know about you, but I was surely pissed off and decided to enjoy the show as much as possible. It’s true that my age doesn’t allow me much of headbanging and participating in mosh-pits, but what the hell, those guys deserved it!
During the 50 minutes’ set, we witnessed an honest performance with great, crystal-clear sound and lots of skills of these four Wisconsinians Death metallers that gave their best onstage. The numb crowd became to participate in the ‘party’ after a while, when some JUNGLE ROT classics hit us non stop: “Face Down”, “Let Them Die” revealed Geoff’s mastery in the lead guitar with all those screaming and blow-minding solos, while Dave proved that his lungs are way bigger than we thought. James was the calm power in the left side of the stage hitting merciless his bass’ strings and Jesse Beahler seemed to be the absolute metronome in that freaking Death-driven journey. Well, you may find Death Metal sound too predictable and I can’t blame you for that; but watching these guys live, you will definitely change your point of view about modern death Metal sound. At least, JUNGLE ROT did that to me.
JUNGLE ROT setlist:
01. "Their Finest Hour"
02. "Blood Ties"
03. "Strangulation Mutilation"
04. "Fight For Life"
05. "Strong Shall Survive"
06. "Rise Up & Revolt"
07. "Face Down"
08. "Let Them Die"
09. "Worst Case Scenario"
10. "Push Comes To Shove"
11. "Kill On Command"
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DimK: After the solid performance by JUNGLE ROT who made us to forget the opening act, it was time for SACRED REICH. As the crew was adjusting the gear for the band, the venue hosted about 150 thrash-heads with ages covering a wide range. And then, the band showed up with huge smiles and some additional body pounds… but this was not a beauty contest by a trip down to Thrash memory lane. Phil Rid stepped in front of the mic and started playing the trademark hit “The American Way”. The bass guitar was louder than it should, but no one seemed to care since there was chaos inside the venue! Headbanging and mosh-pitting spread like fire and the party was on! Ok, Phil gained some pounds but has not lost his vocal abilities and sung the song with his signature timbre while holding the groovy rhythm section with his bass. It was amazing watching Wiley Arnett handling the guitar leads with dexterity and honest passion, being, besides Phil, the driving force for REICH. I am not saying that Jason Rainey (rhythm guitar) and Greg Hall (drums) performed bad; on the contrary, they played everything by the book, but their energy levels had nothing to do with the other two.
Without pausing at all, the band from Arizona hit us with “Independent” causing even more mayhem! No one could resist to Phil’s smile who seemed to enjoy the set 100% making me think that all my initial doubts didn’t have a place in my mind. SACRED REICH feel comfortable doing some live shows per year without having to deal with the anxiety and the ‘battle’ with the record sales and the declining Metal music market. “Who has asthma? My wife says asthma is sexy!” said Phil while using his inhaler seconds before “One Nation”. In the beginning the bass guitar was covering everything, but after the first three songs, things got better even though I wouldn’t mind more volume in the lead guitar. Actually, during a between songs pause someone yelled to Phill: “turn up the volume on the lead guitar!” and Phil simply replied: “Hey, man just come stand in front of the right side of the side where Wiley’s amp is” and everyone laughed. Yeah, Phil was in a great mood and was throwing some nice jokes along the lines lifting even more our mood and giving some seconds for the band to take some breaths.
Of course, the setlist was tight and I have to admit kind of predictable. Being a band just for shows leaves little room to rehearse and also no space for changing the setlist. What we got was a ‘best of’ from SACRED REICH discography (leaving on the side the last two albums) with two nice additions from the “Independent” album. In particular, “Free” sounded absolutely amazing and I think Phil nailed the melodic vocals lines sounding even better than the studio version. One of my favorite REICH songs from the mainstream “The American Way” (when it was released, many said that the band had gone mainstream to raise the sales... I was one of them, but I was also young) is “Who’s To Blame”. Apart from the great melodic backbone, this song has some great lyrics lines many of us reflected ourselves during our puberty (yeah, I know this sounds cheesy but that was the case...)
“Do you know BLACK SABBATH?” Phil threw a rhetorical question and everyone knew what was next; SACRED REICH did “War Pigs” after serving us with a short “Paranoid” excerpt. Despite the age mix in the audience, everyone sung the lyrics with Phil getting the gig into the climax with the massive “Death Squad” that was the last song of the setlist. Of course, no one moved an inch since there was no way that SACRED REICH would leave without playing the trademark Thrash anthem. “Chicago do you want to surf with us?” asked Phil as a preamble to the killer “Surf Nicaragua" during which all the metalheads -young and old- sung on top of their lungs “But now it's too late, you're entering Managua, if you had brought your surfboard, you could surf Nicaragua!” Do I have to say that there was mayhem (again) inside Reggies? Despite the warnings, one guy managed to stagedive fulfilling the old-school tradition in the past SACRED REICH concerts, reminding us how it was two decades before...
I cannot write something different as a conclusion to this live report; SACRED REICH did great enjoying a concert that had the only goal to play music. I don’t think they are doing these scattered gigs to get an extra dollar but just to keep in touch with their past and get off the day-to-day routine. It feels great when such an honest gig makes you dig out some dusty vinyl records and remember how it was digesting the music while watching all the details in the cover artwork and reading the lyrics line by line. Sadly, those were the days...
SACRED REICH setlist:
01. "The American Way"
03. "One Nation"
05. "Violent Solutions"
06. " Administrative Decisions"
08. "State Of Emergency"
09. " Crimes Against Humanity"
10. " Who's To Blame"
11. "I Don’t Know"
13. " War Pigs" (BLACK SABBATH cover)
14. " Death Squad"
15. "Surf Nicaragua"
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