“The Fourth Reich” was an EP by the new wave band Þeyr. It was released on the Icelandic label Mjöt in 12” vinyl format. The 12 inch was released in the UK through Shout label, but its original front cover was banned and replaced by a new one with black-colored background and just the title in red gothic characters.
The name The Fourth Reich could lead to confusion because the title seems to suggest a continuation of the ‘Third Reich’. Actually, the image cover depicts the Austrian psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich with a red armband similar to that used by the Nazis, but in this case, the armband had the symbol of the orgone physics, which represented duality and its origins in unity, referred by Reich as functionalism.
As a matter of fact, this release was a tribute to Reich, since Þeyr members were interested in his works. The back cover of this record also featured an image of Reich being escorted from the courthouse in Portland, Maine when he was arrested in 1956.
This image is accompanied by a German inscription which reads the following:
Gemäss der Verordung des Reichspräsidenten vom 28. Februar 1933 ist die Verteilung aller ausländischen Veröffentlichungen der politisch-psychologischen Reiche der Verleger für Sexualpolitik (Verlag für Sexualpolitik, Kopenhagen, Dänemark, ebenso, Prag, Tchechoslowakei und Zürich, Schweiz) im Reich bis auf weiteres verboten.*
Translation: According to the order by the Reich’s president on February 28, 1933 the distribution of all foreigners’ publications pertaining the polito-psychological topics (Publishers for sexual politics, Copenhagen, Denmark, the same as Prague, Czechoslovakia and Zurich, Switzerland) has been forbidden from now on in the Reich.
The fragment clearly refers to Reich’s book Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), in which he claimed that fascism was the result of sexual repression. This book was banned soon after its publication in the same year that the Nazis took power.
Jeff Obermeyer on his blog Life in the Vinyl Lane:
The Fourth Reich came out in 1982 and is one of the last releases by the band, coming out the same year as the English language compilation As Above (which did include a couple of new tracks as well) and was followed only by the Lunaire 7″ the following year. The EP generated significant controversy with what many deemed to be Nazi imagery on the cover combined with a title that also carried Nazi connotations. In fact the man shown on the front is psychotherapist/inventory/crazy idea guy Wilhelm Reich, and the image on the armband he’s wearing is actually the symbol of orgone energy, a sort of new age idea of Reich’s. Ironically Reich had written critically about fascism and in fact his works were banned by the Nazis. Regardless, someone decided to come out with an alternate jacket that just had the EP name on it. I was fortunate enough to find my Icelandic label version not in Iceland, but at a great shop called Trash Palace in Stockholm, Sweden.
Musically I find The Fourth Reich to be more straight ahead early new wave, especially the two tracks on side A. On the flip side “Zen” gets back to that more familiar, odd territory that defines Þeyr’s sound to me, with seemingly unusual cords and timing changes, and “Blood” also has a lot more of their original sound. I forget how good these guys were sometimes. One of these days I’ll finally break down, bite the bullet, and pay an outrageous amount of money for their debut LP Þagað Í Hel, renowned both for its rarity and because the masters were supposedly destroyed in a fire… so no CD forthcoming. Maybe I’ll be able to track one down to purchase on our trip to Airwaves this fall. We’ll see.
For an introduction to Þeyr, I recommend the 12-song compilation Mjötviður Til Fóta released back in 2001. It is, of course, out of print and collectible in its own right, but it’s also the most reasonably priced introduction to the band outside of listening to songs on YouTube. They’re worth the effort.