Sacred Reich and Byzantine, The Rock Box, San Antonio, 10/1/2017

One thing about live shows is that you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get.  This is live music performed by real people who are dealing with a number of variables.  Over the years, I’ve seen sound and lighting issues.  I’ve seen band fisticuffs break out on stage.  I’ve seen band members jump into the crowd to mix it up with belligerent fans.

With this in mind, I see a sign posted stating that Sacred Reich will unfortunately not be doing their VIP meet and greet due to an illness.  “Well, that doesn’t bode well.”, I thought to myself.  It turns out that lead vocalist and bassist, Phil Rind, was battling a case of the flu.  This wasn’t a real big deal because, honestly, I was primarily at the show to see openers, Byzantine.  Sacred Reich was one of the rabble of thrash bands popping up in the mid to late 80s and they really only managed to achieve a cult level status.  They only put out a few albums and then just kind of quietly disappeared.  They are currently celebrating the 30 year anniversary of their debut album, Ignorance.

Since I wasn’t a big fan originally and after seeing the illness posting, my expectation level was somewhat low.  However, they put on a very lively show and showed me why they have managed to keep a fairly large cult following over the years in spite of not producing any new material in years.  Rind was in fine form and I wouldn’t have even realized he was sick unless he had mentioned the flu during the show.  They had the crowd singing all of the lyrics to their more well-known songs.  Overall, consider me impressed.  I’m going to have to go back and revisit some of their albums.

The band I really went to see this evening, Byzantine, was also having frontman issues.  Chris “OJ” Ojeda came out and said that he blew out his voice a few days earlier, but that since this was the last date on the tour, he was just going to let it all hang out for this performance. It seemed as though he had a bit more trouble with the clean vocals than the normal growling vocals.  Overall, he managed just fine and only had a couple of spots where his voice just cracked and couldn’t handle the range the vocals called for.

Byzantine is one of these bands that is really hurt more by their appearance and awkward stage presence than anything else.  They honestly look more like guys you would see on a construction crew than a hard-hitting metal band.  You could tell that most of the people in the crowd who hadn’t heard of Byzantine before this show weren’t all that impressed when they first came out.  That changed after a couple of songs into their set.  Byzantine is just blistering and by the end of their set, it was apparent that they had won over quite a few new fans.

Byzantine-To Release

Byzantine-Justinian Code

Sacred Reich-One Nation

Sacred Reich-Who’s To Blame

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