When I met and interviewed Phil Rind 12 years ago, he emphatically told me they were just doing some 20th anniversary shows and then packing it all in again. I am so glad that they decided against that, and to write and release new material, considering new guitarist Joey Radziwill wasn’t even born when their last album ‘Heal’ was released, with Phil, Wiley Arnett and Dave McClain returning to the duties they held way back then.

I watched the video for the title track “Awakening” a couple months ago, and knew I wanted to get my grubby mitts on this as soon as I could. It doesn’t take long for the song to seem familiar, but that’s more because of Phil’s voice, the steady beat and guitar-manship than them just rehashing what they’ve done before.

Next up is the fast and choppy “Divide and Conquer” which harks back to the speed surfing of their earliest albums, where speed and aggression were more important than finesse, which the guitar lead has oodles of.

Guitars join the opening salvo of drums before the vocals on “Salvation” come in. The song is rather sedate in comparison to the previous one, with Phil singing slowly but harmoniously and the lead having plenty of room to meander at the temperate pace.

“Manifest Reality” starts slowly, but quickly picks up to a furious pace and is as manic as the video portrays it to be.

Slowing things down to mid-tempo again is “Killing Machine” where the slow background lead guitar provides a harmony throughout.

Far more groove orientated than anything they’ve done before is “Death Valley”, where it actually has a rock feel and a nice step back from what is expected.

I enjoy the steadily increasing pace of “Revolution”, much like a real one, where it ebbs and flows between attacks and burning down buildings.

They finish up with a rather heartfelt “Something to Believe”, which has an awesome bassline for Phil to follow vocally, but it’s the soaring lead that really stands out in the end.

While it’s not an all-out thrash attack from start to finish, it certainly contains all the required pent up aggression on those tracks that are a little slower, allowing the fast songs to do all the damage you’d want and expect from Sacred Reich, with added maturity.

(8/10 Marco Gaminara)