Behind the Realms of Madness reviews

Tanuki on February 23rd, 2017

Beware the Sacrilege!

I feel a bit troglodytic even mentioning that Sacrilege is fronted by a woman - let alone talking about it straight away. I can just imagine your eyebrow raising at a sardonic angle, tacitly saying "Tanuki, you mossback weeaboo, what does it matter if Sacrilege is fronted by a woman? Their debut LP Behind the Realms of Madness would be an amazing example of thrash/crust either way!" Except, I'm not so sure about that.Behind the Realms of Madness seems to have begun as an experiment in pragmatism. Six tracks amounting to a very brisk twenty-six minutes all feature a formulaic approach of unremitting riffs that hit harder - not necessarily stronger. Oppressively swampy and humid, these riffs forsake elegance for raw, crushing power. What's something of a double-edged sword is their propensity to make the most of very little. 'At Death's Door' is a five minute slugfest boasting perhaps only three or four unique riffs. But what seems repetitive on paper proves to be a constantly engaging essay. Why?

I'm glad you asked, Chekhov. It's because exquisite vocalist Tam Simpson delivers a barrage of such gritty, resolute shouts; fresh, original, and unburdened by modesty. While 'Shadow from Mordor' demonstrates the greatest degree of both riff and solo intricacy, it's Simpson's vocals tying the entire package together. Her ferocity is a welcome step-up from Chastain's Leather Leone, as well as a welcome step-down from Znöwhite's Nicole Lee. To resume my earlier conversation with your eyebrow, I don't think Sacrilege would enjoy the same cult status it has now, had it not been for the tremendous vocals of Tam Simpson.

Though, that's not to say her fellow bandmembers aren't pulling their weight. Original drummer Andy Baker supplies rhythms that are satisfyingly consistent and dependable, with breakdowns frequent and accentuating of the guitar's violent toiling. 'Out of Sight, Out of Mind' asks the most out of him, with fast blastbeats and sudden breakdowns. Original bassist Tony May, for how audible he can hope to be in this muddy, lo-fi environment, contributes to the depth of these tracks well enough.

Though these two batons were recently passed to Spikey T. Smith and Frank Healey, respectively. Among the many goodies included with the recent reissue of Behind the Realms of Madness are Sacrileges' two most recent recordings, 'Feed' and 'Dig Your Own Grave'. Although the former is more in keeping with the slower-paced doom direction the band took with Turn Back Trilobite, the latter is startlingly committed to their earlier style, following their winning formula almost verbatim. And though the live and demo tracks plumb new depths of sordidness I thought were explored by the LP tracks, they're still well-worth a listen. If you're interested in obscure, quality thrash from the 80's - especially those with frontwomen - this classic demands a place in your collection.

Standout tracks:

Flight of the Nazgul (1986 Demo), At Death's Door

Related listening:

Blessed Death - Destined for Extinction

Battlefield - We Come to Fight

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hells_unicorn on October 30th, 2013

The reaper rides over Mordor.

Perhaps the most endearing part of the mid 80s thrash metal scene was that, in contrast to what most might suggest, it was a time of rabid eclecticism where themes may have run together, but bands really didn't. There was a common core that held together the traditionalism of Metal Church, the blackened occultism of Bathory and the proto-death metal insanity of Possessed, but it was impossible to mistake one of these bands for the other, and even when accounting for the radically different styles that each brought to the table, it still was far from the whole picture. When considering the world of the crossover/crust punk take on the scene, much of it was obsessed with politics and youthful angst, but a lone outfit from U.K. known as Sacrilege threw all expectations out the window and offered up something that pretty much blurred the lines between traditional hardcore imagery and the darker side of thrash metal in "Behind The Realms Of Madness".

Arguably the most appealing and original aspect of this band is front woman Tam Simpson, whose gritty shouts end up somewhere between Joan Jett and Wendy O. Williams and come off as unusually competent and nimble compared to most vocalists in this neck of the crossover woods. But surprisingly enough, the overall vibe and execution of the music reeks of a nasty, German character of thrash at times that almost seems to be in line with the earliest works of Destruction, especially in the case of the hyper-charged "A Violation Of Something Sacred", though there is an equal helping of vintage Discharge and occasionally some Motorhead going on in the guitar work that. At the same time, the production is a bit higher up in the fidelity level, featuring a drum sound that's about as raucous yet polished as 80s Lars Urlich, and lead guitar work that's quite organized and smooth when contrasted with the noise-ridden mayhem typical of Slayer and the like in the German and Bay Area scenes.

It's actually a little bit confusing at times given that all the clearly visible punk influences might draw comparisons to early Nuclear Assault and Suicidal Tendencies, yet the darkened atmosphere might only give the slightest of nods to Anthrax's "Fistful Of Metal". Take, for example, the thick and chunky riff machine that is "The Closing Irony", which comes in a driving, punchy package with the occasional church bell toll that rests somewhere between a moderately fast number off of "Ride The Lightning" or "Zombie Attack", both of them pretty well removed from the punk roots of the style and edging slightly towards the traditional NWOBHM influences of Satan and Blitzkrieg. Then again, the real meat of this album is found on overtly fast, neck-ruining anthems like "Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind" and "Lifeline", each one successfully walking the thin line that separates "Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing" from "Show No Mercy".

But at the end of the day, the truly surprising aspect of this song is the lack of impact that it had on things when compared with many of its contemporaries. Perhaps this owes to the lack of prominence in the U.K. thrash scene and the band's not quite being crusty enough to fit in with the likes of Amebix, or lacking the overt extreme character that would make them a precursor to Napalm Death, but it definitely doesn't speak to any lack of impact on the part of the music itself. While it's kind of off in its own little world, this is something that fans of D.R.I. or Tankard alike should definitely look into, as it manages to embody the best of each respective style without detracting from one in favor of the other. Whether you've got a mohawk or hair all the way down to your ass, this 6 song package of sonic death is screaming for a larger audience.

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Liquid_Braino on October 26th, 2013

Sacrilege is sacrilegious!

From the odious and depraved writings of the Marquis de Sade to the filthy creatures of Jim Henson (currently languishing eternally in the Lake Of Fire), industries of evil under the guise of entertainment have plagued mankind throughout the ages, and for the past few decades, few recreational activities can twist minds away from the righteous path of Christ as the horrid penchant of our children's willingness to dispense currency in order to fill their ears with noise from the 'realms of madness', otherwise known as 'extreme metal music'.

The subject of my examination is the aptly named group Sacrilege and their first collection of putrescence entitled Behind The Realms Of Madness. Six rotten crusty abominations in which half of these so-called "songs" lurch at a propulsive speed like a power drill through a heathen's skull, while the other three slabs of sickness brandish a tempo that's reigned in, but no less effective at inducing the brainwashed into pulverizing each other like hellish minions in what is prudently labeled "the pit". The sound of the electric guitar is particularly as immense as it is unclean, bearing an unholy tone like sludge from the deepest sewers of Sodom. The guitar 'riffs' invoke a powerful force of malignancy, in that they are well structured and rendered loosely yet energetically, a sonic lash of violence upon the backs of the unprepared and easily deceived. Drums implore hatred towards the benevolent in a clear, audible fashion while a bass guitar rumbles deep and far from within the bowels of the Abyss. Shrieking guitar solos should also be noted, providing an extra level pentatonic spite above the fiery din. These vile musical pieces of what their most likely pro-abortion minded followers define as 'thrash' with an apparently strong 'crust' influence also tend to drag a little longer than possibly needed to mesmerize the 'fallen from His graces'.

Amongst this unholy cacophony can be heard the angry wails of a woman, luring impressionable fresh-faced boys away from the gentle touch and wisdom provided by the "men of the cloth" and into the arms of this wretched succubus. Her voice alone reeks of impurity, tempting good christian youth into performing unspeakable acts of self-molestation. The bitter words she intones describes a world gone mad with unabashed hatred, greed and immorality, and offers no solutions to these global ills, denying the truth in which peace can be achieved through Christ's love and forgiveness. A harlot of Gomorrah, this woman's harried yells recall an attitude similar to another branch of festering noise, that being punk music, where purple haired lunatics indulge in sinful acts of defiance against authority and the Lord's commandments.

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those that hear" (Ephesians 4:29). The members of Sacrilege obviously pay no mind to these good words, too busy possibly engaging in decrepit nighttime rituals involving carnal pleasures and unbridled sodomy when not violating wide-eyed children with their hateful hymns. This music offers an aural depiction of Hell, and should be avoided lest ye bare witness to Lucifer's fiery palace upon one's demise. Instead, give in to the spiritual caress and gratification provided by the right hand of the Father, for He is still on the throne, whilst the foul steaming beasts composing Sacrilege float and bob beneath in a swirling pool of denial.

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Nightmare_Reality on April 8th, 2012

Rising Up From the Deep

I can't think of any two metal subgenres that embrace aggression or personify intensity as much as thrash or crust do. Sure, there's the abrasiveness of war metal and the horrifyingly awful repetitiveness of brutal death metal, but neither boast the memorability or catchiness of some good ol' metalpunk or thrash (There are a few exceptions to this, though). So when encountering an album like "Behind the Realms of Madness," a record universally known as a prototype for the crust punk sound and one that possesses plenty of thrashing wreclessness, there's of course going to be a solid amount of excitement and anticipation upon the first listen. Well, don't set your expectations too high unless you enjoy letting yourself down.

Sacrilege's debut full-length is far from terrible, but it wanders aimlessly between tolerable and brilliant throughout its six song duration, just enough for it to hover on the higher part of the proverbial scale. The record gets off to a decent start with "Life Line," as it bombards the listener with passable thrashy riffs, crust oriented passages, wicked solos and over the top vocals, that have a lot of Grimmett-like tendencies, but with a lot more anger and attitude. Sacrilege seemingly appears as an elite band once the next track "Shadow From Mordor" comes on with its dirge-like intro riffs and terrific solos. But that's the last we see of the greatness.

The next four tracks on "Behind the Realms of Madness" are nothing more than visions of what could have been. "At Death's Door" features mediocre riffage until the break where the listener is treated to acatchy headbanger of a riff, only for it to drag on and go absolutely nowhere. "A Violation of Something Sacred" and "Out of Sight Out of Mind" both offer flashes of glory with Venom-esque riffs and moments of thrashy goodness, but neither ever ascend past the plateau made at the beginning of the record. It's too bad that Sacrilege didn't live up to the hype, and instead chose to tease the listener, making "Behind the Realms of Madness" a good album that could have been stellar.


"Shadow From Mordor"

"A Violation of Something Sacred"

Originally written for Nightmare Reality Webzine.

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Psycho_Holiday on August 3rd, 2010

Fucking Crust!!!!!

To me, crust punk has always been the fusion between thrash/early death metal and hardcore punk. We're talking about Bolt Thrower, Nuclear Assault, Hellhammer, or Kreator mixed with the likes of Chaos UK, Disorder, Broken Bones, Moderat Likvidation, or other mid to late 80s UK82 and Swedish hardcore bands.

Crust Punk, in one of the earlier forms, is Sacrilege.

This entire album is exactly as I have described. Semi-repetitive d-beat, thrash drums over vicious chugging riffs with protesting female vocals about the state of society. To some, this might sound a bit annoying, but to me this is the epitome of early crusty stenchcore in which the members of bands like Sacrilege and Deviated Instinct were putting their metal touches on punk rock and opening up an entirely new genre that bands like Doom and Extinction of Mankind would come to adopt later on in the earlier part of the next decade. Dirty, patchwork Brits, some of whom were homeless squatters, playing the thrashiest, heaviest punk they could get their pawn shop guitars tuned to.

On Behind the Realms of Madness, we have heavy, spine-tingling crust and ultimate thrash influence with one hell of a tough singer behind the microphone. There's a badass grim reaper on the cover and looking at that alone should give you a fair idea of what you're in for. Get ready to drink cider, smoke way too much pot, and bang your head to a hybrid of music that was nearly unheard of at the time.

Despite the historic aspect of this epic metal/punk album, the songs do end up getting sort of played out by the end of the album, and you may find yourself yawning a bit. It's hard to admit being such a fan of this genre, but eventually I began to wish this were just a 7 inch instead of an entire full length.

Overall, this is a great release, fusing genres in a revolutionary combination that should not be missed by an self-respecting punk or metal head. Buy or die!!!

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autothrall on December 24th, 2009

Cold concrete replaces warm soil

England's Sacrilege were a fairly interesting band that sadly fell under the radars of many metal fans in the 80s. Notable for being one of the few British metal bands with a good female singer, they also made an interesting transition through their three albums, from an early crossover of speed/thrash with a steady punk influence, to a very laid back, unique brand of thrash/doom metal. Here on Beyond the Realms of Madness, the band played fast and filthy with a huge hardcore/punk influence, and combined with Tam Simpson's aggressive voice they felt like a hybrid of Znöwhite and Discharge. This debut was only 26 minutes long, with six tracks, but it provided more than enough energy for fist mashing and burning off your body fat in youthful anger, and I certainly recommend it to anyone seeking out old school punk, thrash, crossover, hardcore, you name it!

"Life Line" opens with a resounding ambient tone before the frothy pistons of its punk edge begin to hammer forward. In particular I love the second riff, a speed metal flurry that is easily the rival of bands like Acid, Détente, Holy Moses, or other female fronted classics. The track doesn't let up for 4 minutes, and the slower "Shadow from Mordor", which, in a strange maneuver, instantly removes you from the street and takes you into a fantasy metal realm, with evocative solos that lead into a faster paced, steady rocking rhythm worth tossing in any spiked gauntlet. "At Death's Door" is mean but not lean, 5 minutes of crushing metal which yet again fills out the punk roots into a pissed off metal angst. The extended breakdown at about 2:00 here is pretty great, with a trace of doom like progression as it pummels you repeatedly.

'The land holds the hammer but mankind deals the blow

Economics and profit before compassion we show'

The lyrics are fairly political, even "Shadow from Mordor", which again honors the thrash and hardcore tradition. "A Violation of Something Sacred" is another heavily punk-driven tune spitting more fumes than a rusted engine, and Tam's shouts likely had circle pits a-brewing and mohawks shaking in pubs all over the UK. "The Closing Irony" opens with the intonations of bells, and then a mid paced dirty thrashing riff and some swell leads. This is my single favorite song of the album, and I like that the bells return to sound off like a crunching pendulum. "Out of Sight Out of Mind" has some excellent, churning speed metal rhythms which sound like a napalm barnstorming, as it spits another round of core-fueled aesthetics and mosh-downs to top off the album.

One of the reasons I occasionally listen back to Beyond the Realms of Madness is the excellent tone of the album. It's raw and pissed off, no excess studio wash-job, and it has so much of that edge which modern hardcore and punk (and thrash) can rarely emulate in their endless fashion parade. This is a bruiser of an album, so if you have only heard Turn Back Trilobite and you're listening for the first time, you may be surprised, there is not a lot in common except for the same musicians. That being said, it's a little hard to compare to their later work, which evolves away from this sound. The Sacrilege of 1985 was almost a separate band entirely, but a good one, and if you like a mix-up of Discharge punk rhythms and Holy Moses speed metal, then I urge you to track it the debut down.

Highlights: Life Line, At Death's Door, The Closing Irony, Out of Sight Out of Mind


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gone_homocide on August 23rd, 2007

Not all metal female vocalists suck

When I heard this I was blown away. Thrashing riffs, blasting drums, and an amazing female vocalist. The overall raw power of this album is what makes it so fucking good. The combination of UK crust punk and thrash is a knock out combo. This album kicks off with a kick ass song called Lifeline if you don't get hooked into this album in the first 5 seconds you just don't like good thrash. This album is a relentless onslaught of riffs and solos. No dull moments no ballads just in your face classic thrash.

Every song on here kicks ass the best in my opinion are Lifeline, At Deaths Door , and Out of Sight Out of Mind. Lifeline is a great opener to an album starts off really crunchy then just picks up with the vocals and makes you headbang like mad. At Deaths Door is really catchy with the guitar and drum work and Tam's vocals really kick ass on this track. Out of Sight Out of Mind starts on a awesome thrash riff that leads you to the end of this classic album and leaves you wanting more.

This album is my favorite UK thrash album and is one of my favorites of all time. Give it a listen and feel the power known as Sacrilege.

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Behind the Realms of Madness track list

1Life Line03:52
2Shadow from Mordor04:51
3At Death's Door05:04
4A Violation of Something Sacred04:16
5The Closing Irony04:13
6Out of Sight Out of Mind03:48

Behind the Realms of Madness lineup

Lynda "Tam" SimpsonVocals
Damian ThompsonGuitars
Tony MayBass
Andy BakerDrums