Smart, sarcastic, funny, very political, whiplash fast and tight as a duck’s chuff – how on earth did it take me until 2014 to buy a Sacred Reich record?  I went for Surf Nicaragua, of course, their 1988 EP.  I remember liking the art and the approving of the politics when I read about them in Kerrang!  Although they became figures of fun after bassist/vocalist Phil Rind was thrown through a window in Bradford for serenading a biker’s girlfriend*, come on – who amongst us can put hand on heart and say that’s never happened to them?

Sacred Reich Surf Nicaragua 02

Surf Nicaragua is four tracks and 17:28 of, mostly, furious furry frash frills.  The title track is by far the best track here, a speeding slab of righteous anger at US involvement in Nicaragua, the mounting prospects of US military intervention there and the bloody insurgency that was being funded by the dollar**.

But now it’s too late
You’re entering Managua
If you had brought your surfboard
You could surf Nicaragua

Lessons we have learned
Are easy to forget
Hints of Vietnam
How soon we all forget

Which is one thing, add in a great lolloping tune and the wit to chuck in snatches of ‘Wipeout’ and the theme to ‘Hawaii 5-0’ and you’ve got a real winner in my book.  I appreciate the way Sacred Reich ignore the temptations to write about demons, ghouls and nuclear vagaries and hit the politics head-on, a definite nod to the hardcore punk origins of thrash right there – it’s easy to hear the likes of Conflict, or Discharge using these same lyrics^.

Sacred Reich Surf Nicaragua 01

Then we hit, the rather topical ‘One Nation’ a plea for American unity, tolerance and humanity particularly as it pertains to foreign policy.  I like the structure of this track, the way it has slow verses before accelerating wildly into the chorus every time.  Okay, so it isn’t quite Dylan but, naïve or not, it could have/should have been written today.

Our world is divided, the boundaries have been drawn
Ideas are decided by where you have been born
You can’t judge people by the government of their land
They’re flesh and blood like us – why don’t you understand?

The future is our burden, we can’t stand and watch
As the world around crumbles, opposing armies march
We work towards our goal: one nation – unity
And you must be the convert who works towards world peace

Sacred Reich Surf Nicaragua 03 (2)

The cover of ‘War Pigs’ is pretty superfluous as the band play it as straight as they can, in their defence I suppose you could say that it came from a time when Sabbath certainly weren’t venerated the way they are now.  Maybe it’s just the case that Alice Donut’s cover of ‘War Pigs’ (with Ozzy’s vocals done by a trombone!) just rendered anyone else’s versions pointless, for ever^^.  Closing track ‘Draining You Of Life’ is precisely where Sacred Reich do give in to the temptation to write about demons and ghouls, to good effect too – smashing out a real thrasher that made me mosh wildly at traffic lights on my drive to the station this morning, for all the world probably looking just like I’d had some kind of seizure.

Sacred Reich Surf Nicaragua 04 (2)

Overall Surf Nicaraga is a very good shot of late 80’s thrash metal, really well-packaged and played.  They do get 1537 bonus points for showing their punk roots too.

Now all this left-wing politicking and thrashing put me in mind of a series of six comics I collected called Third World War back in 1990.  It was a 2000AD off-shoot written by (the ever-excellent) Pat Mills and illustrated by Carlos Ezquerra, dealing with issues like government-sponsored insurgency, corporate political power and injustice in the, then seemingly far-off, year 2000.  There are lots of interesting quotes, Dead Kennedys lyrics and Napalm Death ones are used in the text too.  It’s a little of its time perhaps but it felt important to me then and fits in neatly here, I enjoyed re-reading them.

Third World war Comic 01Third World war Comic 02Third World war Comic 03

643 Down.

*it was a bit more involved than that, check out this account from their manager, on her really rather interesting blog.

**I won’t go on but US intervention in South America and proxy wars in the 80’s has always been an abiding interest and hatred of mine.

^pinko illiberal liberal that I am, I acknowledge my hypocrisy entirely. I love Surf Nicaragua for its’ politics whilst Ted Nugent’s assertion of his, makes him all but unlistenable to me.

^^but don’t take my word for it – from the wonderfully titled Revenge Fantasies Of the Impotent:

43 thoughts on “Subversives!

  1. Sacred Reich were one of those bands I never checked out. I recall reading about them quite a bit back in the late 80s, but just never took the plunge. I think maybe I lumped them in with the “funny” metal bands of the time(Scatterbrain come to mind.) And I wasn’t aware of their politics either. I may just have to make some space for them. And Faith No More did a rather straight forward cover of “War Pigs” in 1990. As the years went on it became more ham-fisted every time they’d play it live(thanks for Mike Patton’s disdain for, well,…everything), but the album version on ‘The Real Thing’ was pretty damn good.

    And those comics…those are great! You’ve had those since 1990? Damn you and your cool things(stomps off to bedroom to pout.)

    1. The FNM cover was really good (bonus track on CD and cassette -damn them!).

      Hey, don’t worry I have several tons of way uncool things that date from then too – most of which I’ve dumped back in charity shops by now!

      I used to have a T-shirt from this series that read ‘Official Government Hooligan’. Well, until I was sick all over it the night after having a big curry and 200 pints of lager, that is!

    1. Cheers John. Yeah, I get that too – he was such a good writer, this is a really good and angry comic – ever read it? I subscribed to a leftie mag called New Internationalist for a few years, until I realized just how depressed it was making me feel – this was a bit like that, but fun too.

  2. That trombone War Pigs cover is so stupid it’s almost masterful. It reminds me of listening to Frank Zappa cover of Stairway to Heaven, and marvelling at how straight and close to the original he plays it..

    …and then the guitar solo is blisteringly performed by an orchestra horn section 😉

    1. I’ve only heard that once and you’re bang on in your description.

      All my fave music tends to be a bit tongue-in-cheek and the Alice Donut just makes me laugh out loud.

  3. I was an anti- Contra aid protester back in the 80s and I even participated in a rally in front of the White House. I wish I had known this album back then, I would have loved it. I guess it’s never too late.

    1. Good on you, were servicemen allowed to protest?

      In my view it was just abject cruelty to the civilian populace as a means of advancing commercial interests; but I’m possibly simplifying. The atrocities that were perpetrated in that country were horrendous.

      1. I’d been out of the service nearly three years by that time. What changed my point of view was seeing my buddies get blown up in Beirut on account of a president who just wanted to get the military involved in something. You’re so spot on about the atrocities committed in Nicaragua by the Regan backed Contras.

  4. Glad you’ve opted for something more well known after a few posts about super obscure stuff that you probably just made up. I never really liked this band as much as I wanted to. Still a work in progress though!

    1. Well it was time to get out of the margins and back into the mainstream, to cast the searchlight of my unstinting genius onto the entertainments of the masses, for once.

      I like the Reich I’ve heard, they kept a bit of a punky edge like Suicidal Tendencies, except they didn’t have anyone as amusing to look at as Mike Muir.

      1. Yes! I control you!

        I really wouldn’t want to try and beat up Suicidal Tendencies – they were hated on the hardcore punk scene for being the toughest guys with the most insanely violent fans around.

  5. Wales has always been a dark and subversive place, it is after all where the counterculture retreated too after the pogroms of the Thatcher led 80’s.

  6. Who knew North Wales was such a dark heart of subversiveness and the probably source of the next revolution? You did? OK.

    Love the Alice Donut.

    (What’s with this output? Are you on holiday or something?)

    1. We are the last refuge of free thinkers and dissidents in the Western world. Oh and Druids too.

      Nope, just feeling a little more inspired than I have been for the last few weeks. And hockey season has finished which gives me a break from being a taxi in the evenings.

      1. Yep. I enjoyed that very much indeed. A lively clever big band chart can be a thing of beauty, and the trombone is an under-rated instrument. It was one of the good things on Kamasi Washington’s album, don’t you reckon?

      2. The jury’s still very much out for me on that one – I do like a good trombone though, plenty of it in the best ska.

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