THRASH!!! Metal from good 'ol Pennsylvania USA!

Presumed Dead Sacrament - Presumed Dead (cdr/demo) 1989

1. "Separate from Iniquity" (2:53)
2. "Assault (Satan's Doom)" (3:07)
3. "Lies of the Blind" (3:12)
4. "Face Reality" (2:49)
5. "Presumed Dead" (4:32)

Sacrament were leaders of the extreme thrash metal movement of the late 80's and as such were not an unsigned band for long. "Presumed Dead" is the one and only demo Sacrament ever released before signing to R.E.X. Records. The recording is rather rough, although not unlistenable. The nice thing about this demo is the amount of songs that are unique to it. I always though Mike Torone had a great thrash metal voice. One of most interesting things about this demo is hearing "Separate From Iniquity" with the Mike Torone singing. This song was later rewritten for 'Haunts of Violence' with Robert Wolfe, the band's second singer. However, I find it odd that the other four songs were never recorded. Shame really as they were all quite good. This CDR bootleg of the original demo comes complete with the original artwork.

Sacrament -Testimony of Apocalypse (R.E.X.) 1990

1. "Testimony of Apocalypse" (4:06)
2. "Slave to Sin" (3:32)
3. "Hellfire Denied" (3:04)
4. "Repentance" (3:10)
5. "Valley of Dry Bones" (3:12)
6. "Mortal Agony" (3:12)
7. "Conquer Death" (3:10)
8. "Absence of Fear" (4:01)
9. "The Risen" (3:58)
10. "Blood Bath" (4:07)

Sacrament are an intense East Coast thrash metal band that pushed the boundaries of early death metal, not unlike Sacrifice or Death. The music is fast and furious leaning towards the more extreme European thrash sound, as opposed to the Bay Area style. Vocalist  Mike Torone has a raw, coarse, throaty voice that adds to the overall extreme vibe of the music, though he never really dives into full on death metal growls. Despite the speed and intensity of the music, Sacrament don't forsake memorable songwriting as well. My favorite track is "Conquer Death", a full-throttle thrasher with a manic vocal delivery, one sick high-pitched scream and a bridge with a killer groove that gives way into a mid-paced lead break. What some people might find shocking is that despite Sacrament's extreme nature, they are a full-fledged Christian band.

Sacrament's debut CD was originally released on R.E.X. Records in 1990. (Unfortunately it was never released on vinyl.) With the demise of that label a few years later, "Testimony of Apocalypse" became a hot collector's item fetching high dollars on auction sites. In 2005 Retroactive Records released a limited edition re-issue together with the band's "Presumed Dead" demo as bonus tracks. (see below)

Sacrament - Haunts of Violence (R.E.X.) 1992

1. "Haunts of Violence" (6:38)
2. "Carry the Wounded" (4:18)
3. "Destructive Heresies" (4:35)
4. "The Wicked Will Rot" (4:10)
5. "Supplication" (4:00)
6. "Souls in Torment" (6:52)
7. "Separate from Iniquity" (4:18)
8. "Seared Consciences" (4:30)
9. 'Under Threat of Death" (4:11)
10. "Portraits of Death" (5:19)

R.E.X. was hyping this as the heaviest disc they had ever released, but they delayed the release for so long that by the time it came out death metal was already dominating the scene and thrash was struggling to survive. Too bad as new vocalist Robert Wolfe had one of those cool high pitched shrieky voices that works so well with thrash. "Haunts" is stinkin' heavy and at times reminds me of later day Slayer and Death. Loads of gang vocals and some furious guitar playing. This disc is EXCELLENT. Kevin Ayers of Haven produced the disc. I bought this one as a new release in 1992. It's also almost impossible to find these days as R.E.X. no longer exists.

After the band broke up, bassist Eric Ney went onto play with Sardonyx for a short time. In 1999 he reappeared with Joey Daub (ex-Believer) in a new project called Fountain of Tears.

Testimony Re-release Sacrament - Testimony of Apocalypse/Presumed Dead (Retroactive Records) 2004

Testimony of Apocalypse
1. "Testimony of Apocalypse" (4:29)
2. "Slave to Sin" (3:29)
3. "Hellfire Denied" (3:08)
4. "Repentance" (3:14)
5. "Valley of Dry Bones" (3:15)
6. "Mortal Agony" (3:14)
7. "Conquer Death" (3:14)
8. "Absence of Fear" (4:01)
9. "The Risen" (4.06)
10. "Blood Bath" (2:58)
Presumed Dead Demo
11. "Separate from Iniquity" (2:55)
12. "Assault (Satan's Doom)" (3:10)
13. "Lies of the Blind" (3:14)
14. "Face Reality" (2:49)
15. "Presumed Dead" (4:38)
16. "Absence of Fear" (3:39)
17. "Conquer Death" (3:10)

It's always cool when classic, underground albums get a proper re-release, especially when they have been out of print for almost a decade, as "Testimony of Apocalypse" has. This 2004 re-release also features the entire "Presumed Dead" demo and the entire disc has been remastered, which was my main reason for wanting to own it, since already own the original R.E.X. (1990) release and a bootleg of the demo tracks. Unfortunately I fear this pressing will quickly become as scarce as the original pressing, since Retroactive is keeping this to a limited edition pressing of only 1,000 copies. Sacrament's debut was pure, brutal thrash metal from start to finish. Songs like "Conquer Death", "Absence of Fear" and "Slave To Sin" are all examples thrash metal at it's finest; a wall of crunchy guitars, classic thrash vocals and those infectious thrash riffs. As stated in the above review, this would be Mike Torone's only full release with the band. It is also worth mentioning that the track listing on the CD is incorrect as "Absence of Fear" and "Conquer Death" should be listed as 16 and 17 as seen in the track listing above, rather than as tracks 11 & 12.

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