Sacrilege – “Behind The Realms Of Madness” Reissue (Relapse Records)
One of England’s most cutting edge bands of the early 80s, Sacrilege are widely acknowledged as being one of the early prototypes of today’s crust punk / metal movement, as well as being as influence on up and coming bands at the time like Bolt Thrower and Napalm Death. Formed by guitarist Damian Thompson, who had cut his teeth in The Varukers (themselves renowned for being the original Discore band), it seemed that experimentation was in the blood and it soon came in the form of singer (and later wife to be) Lynda ‘Tam’ Simpson’s ferocious vocals and politically radical lyrics. Sacrilege dared to tread where no other bands ventured, drawing the anarchic, thrashers and punks into one aggressive melting pot. With a sound to match, Tam‘s aggressive but distinct femme shout outs were matched by Damian’s dirty, raw guitar spitting out mean as fuck thrash riffs, nihilistic punk melodies and metal on metal solos backed by an equally angst ridden rhythm section in the form of Tony May on bass and man monster drummer Andy Baker (also ex Varukers). With the anarcho punk movement now in open political conflict with Margaret Thatcher’s government and the US thrash movement making significant headway into the UK metal scene all the ingredients were there in what became “Behind The Realms Of Madness” – six songs that brilliantly capture the moment musically and politically, with Tam’s lyrics deserving a special mention for the way she used Tolkien to metaphorically cover subjects such as nuclear war – quite unheard of in the average punk band! Needless to say the modest 7,000 copy pressing sold out, with Pushead releasing an equally snapped up US version. Garnering label signing Sacrilege became increasingly metallised along doom lines, with new line up changes in the form of bassist Frank Healy and drummer Spike T Smith. By the end of the 80s, the band were touring alongside Candlemass, Sabbat and Girlschool, releasing what eventually became their final album “Turn Back Trilobite”, once again going for an ambitious eclectic mix of doom, folk and even jazz, although to mixed reactions this time. After that the band sorta faded away – for the next 25 years – although today the reformed Sacrilege put it down to a very long hiatus during which time Tam and Damien quit the music business and became full time crusties, buying a bus and raising two daughters while Healy joined Cerebral Fix, Napalm Death and eventually Benediction, and Spike T Smith headed for the big time with Morrissey, The Damned, Conflict and English Dogs! Today, Sacrilege are back with Smith and Spike joining Tam and Damien to record a new album. To wet appetites in the meantime, they’ve authorized the first ever fully authorized reissue of “Behind The Realms Of Madness”, now remastered by Brad Boatright (Sleep, Hooded Menace, Obituary) with FIVE previously unreleased bonus tracks, two live tracks, expanded art and liner notes! The re-mastering on the original six tracks works a treat, bringing into modernity the ferocity that was ‘Shadow From Mordor‘ and ‘At Death’s Door‘ – I only wish the magic could’ve been made on the remaining bonus tracks which although not as clear still remarkably retain their venom from those days. Likewise, the live tracks like ‘Bloodrun’ tell those nasty, distorted feedback fleapit gigs as they were for their blistering, sweaty moshpits where skinheads clashed with mohawks and flailing hair – everyone of course being covered in grease n dandruff – oh, the smell of sweet youth!