For more than 20 years UK's SACRILEGE was a well-kept secret among punks and metal fans with a good musical taste. Since the band's 25th anniversary things have changed and it seems as if the world finally starts to recognize the musical importance of one of the darkest and heaviest bands that emerged in the early 1980's from the English hardcore punk scene. The bands first release 'Behind The Realms Of Madness' paved the way for bands like Bolt Thrower and myriads of other heavy, crusty bands. While in the early years SACRILEGE's sound was more or less influenced by Discharge and Conflict, the band started in 1985 to integrate a strong doom metal component to their aggressiveness as well as to slow down the pace, which led to overwhelmingly powerful mid-tempo tracks.
In contrast to Amebix, who were strongly influenced by Killing Joke and Motörhead, SACRILEGE were attracted to bands like Trouble and Candlemass and this was unusually for a hardcore punk band in the first half of the 1980's. No wonder that not everyone had fallen in love with the first album and, later, when SACRILEGE became more and more a metal band, many of the old punks lost interest while thrash and doom metal fans have been gained. The second album 'Within The Prophecy', released in 1987, marks a transition between the old days and the last album 'Turn Back Trilobite', where SACRILEGE fully transformed into some sort of progressive doom metal band. 'Time To Face The Reaper', a compilation released by Absurd Records in 2010, is focused on the first four years of the band's relatively short career and consists of four demos recorded between 1984 and 1986. After the re-release of the first two albums, this is the first official compilation of these recordings which show the band's musical development from the very beginning as a Discharge-driven hardcore punk band to a doom-laden thrash metal band that is still deeply rooted with their past.
Four out of the total of eight songs on the first two demos have been previously released on two compilations as well as on 'Realms' , whereas the last two demos include all tracks from 'Within The Prophecy' plus 'Insurrection' which later appeared on Under One Flag's 'Speed Kills III' compilation in 1987. With the exception of 'Bloodrun' and 'Dig Your Own Grave', all songs differ from later studio recordings that makes this compilation all the more interesting. The core of 'Time To Face The Reaper' are definitely the demo recordings for 'Within The Prophecy'. The problem of this record has been always the production that is simply too slick for a band like SACRILEGE. Nevertheless, the riffs and songs remain awesome, but the rough sound of the demo tapes is better suited for Damian Thompson's guitar attack. Even the vocals of Lynda "Tam" Simpson are more powerful than on the album. Truly, it would have been a real pleasure if the songs fom 'Within' had gotten the same studio treatment like the tracks of 'Behind', but fortunately both 1986 demos have an almost similar raw and unbridled, heavy sound.
As much as I worship Damian's riffs on the first album, I think his best work can be found around 1986. He elicits from his guitar an astonishingly powerful and continuously surprising spectrum of powerchords and solos: heavy, rhythmical pulsating, strong. Tam's clear and angry vocals are the icing on the cake, and everything is held together by a good, tight rhythm section. And last but not least, SACRILEGE had the talent to write some timeless classic songs where they have demonstrated unwittingly that they were ahead of their time. This is not just a catch phrase, but a plain fact. All 16 songs on this compilation have been remastered and 'Time To Face The Reaper' is packed in a wonderful glossy deluxe digipack, including a booklet with all lyrics, liner notes and a lot of unreleased photos. Don't waste your money on a shabby bootleg - here's the real deal! Very recommendable.