Despite the fact of Living Sacrifice achieving a near-legendary status in Christian metal, I really only just got into them when I bought the band's "best of" compilation on a whim a few months ago. The disc offered a variety of songs taken from the band's numerous releases, but I found that two of my favorites were from their self-titled 1991 debut, re-released in 1999 through Solid State Records. Needless to say, I had to own it, and from the opening riffs of "Violence," I knew I had something.
Living Sacrifice just screams old-school thrash. The fast, rhythmic drums, typical power-chord progressions, rough, punk vocals, and fast, soaring solos that defined early 90's thrash metal are all present. Tracks like "The Prodigal," which starts off as a simple drum line and suddenly breaks into a fast guitar lick, and "Phargx Imas," which, after a few seconds of feedback, spirals into a whirlwind of guitars so intense and fast it takes you a minute to catch on to the rhythm, really showcase the band's talent. The lead progressions on the album are not necessarily complex, but are still very interesting and effective in holding the listener's attention and keeping them guessing. Likewise, the chord progressions are really nothing new, but are done well and not recycled song after song. An especially enjoyable aspect of the album are the solos; while sometimes simple, there are lots of whammy effects and pinch harmonics that give them an almost "over-the-top" feel, and of course contain sporadic speed licks.
Lyrically, the album focuses on man's depravity and inherent sinfulness, but many songs offer hope of redemption. The song "Obstruction" speaks of sin in our lives that keep us from following God, but then reminds that Jesus holds the power to overcome those obstacles. The messages are also easy to understand, contrasting heavily with some of the more obscure, metaphorical lyrics of today's scene, and I appreciated that fact.
If there is anything to say against the album, it certainly isn't anything major. Despite being re-mastered, it still has a very rough, almost "garage band" quality too it. The music, despite being done very well, is nothing especially groundbreaking, and the songs generally follow the same structure, although for the most part each one remains fairly unique.
Fans familiar with the band's later work will notice a significant difference in sound, especially A.J.'s old-school vocals and the raw thrash sound as opposed to the band's more recent metal-core tendencies. The album is still a favorite among long-time fans, and for good reason. This is a solid metal release with a "classic" feel to it. Any fan of metal or Living Sacrifice looking to learn a little metal history would be wise to enroll in Living Sacrifice's self-titled debut.JFH Reader Review: Review date: 5/21/08, written by Jeremy Duncan for Jesusfreakhideout.com
This is the re-release of Living Sacrifice's 1991 self-titled debut record. Incase you didn't know, Living Sacrifice was one of the first Christian bands to introduce the world to the underground hardcore metal scene. They would later on become the influence to many other Christian metal bands, including acts such as Demon Hunter.
I do not have the original version that was released by R.E.X. Music so I am currently unable to compare the differences between the two releases. In the CD insert, Bruce Fitzhugh writes that the original release of the album had been out of print for five years and they were glad to finally re-release the album to their fans. It is obvious that this album wasn't recorded in a major studio by producer Steve Albini, but the album is very intense in sound.
Musically, I would call this record a mix between the thrash metal of Megadeth mixed with the vocals of Metallica, all done in the name of Christ. The only complaints I have on this album is that almost all of the songs except for "Obstruction" sound the same. "Obstruction" slows down to a soft acoustic guitar before opening up to a brutal lead and rythym guitar that would melt your face off. Another complaint is that the lyrics are laid out as one big long verse rather than the traditional songwriting of having a verse, a chorus, second verse, chorus, and a bridge. The lyrics can get a little annoying at times, but overall, the album is 100% intense heavy metal that sounds awesome.
It is a different sound than their latest records such as Reborn and Conceived In Fire, but I enjoy the album because it was capturing who they were at that time. A very decent effort from a band that opened the door for Christian heavy metal, but at the same time delivered the message of hope that can only come through Jesus Christ.- Review date: 6/2/08, written by Fred Keel of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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