Sunday Old School: Living Sacrifice
Band Photo: Living Sacrifice (?)
Of all the reunions and reformations of bands over the past decade, from Carcass to Immortal, few have been as demanded or anticipated as highly as today's featured band. Although their break only lasted five years, fans of a four piece from Little Rock, Arkansas felt a signifficant void had been left by their absence, which was filled in 2008 and the news was broke that the world would see the return of Living Sacrifice. The band was formed in 1989 by bass player and vocalist Darren Johnson, guitarist Bruce Fitzhugh and drummer Lance Garvin, with Jason Truby joining the group as a second guitarist soon afterwards. The band took their name from the Biblical passage Romans 12:1 and from the outset aimed to promote their Christian beliefs, which was reflected in the title of their first demo, "Not Yielding to Ungodly." The demo proved popular in the metal underground and soon found its way to Believer members Kurt Bachman and Joey Daub, who helped get the band signed to R.E.X. Records, a label which specialized in Christian metal artists. The band recorded their self-titled full length debut, which was released in 1991 and featured a more thrash metal orientated approach than their later work, earning them comparisons to other popular thrash acts such as Slayer.
Although their first record was received very favourably by metal fans, Christian or not, the band decided to drop the style and move towards the down tuned death metal genre that had been increasing in popularity thanks to such artists as Obituary and Morbid Angel. Their first foray into this tone came in 1992 with their sophomore effort, "Nonexistent," which the band see as something as a disappointment, expressing their dissatisfaction with the work of the producer, although it is still thought highly of by their fanbase. They then sought to combine the two styles they had previously exhibited, which culminated in their third album, "Inhabit," which was something of a return to their thrash sound, owing to the vocal methods employed by Johnson, but musically carried on in the vein of death metal, resulting in what is generally considered the group’s heaviest work to date. It was met with mixed to positive reviews but the band were soon dealt a blow when R.E.X. Records announced that they had gone bankrupt, leaving them without a label for a time, before they eventually signed with Solid State Records, who they trusted to help broaden their audience.
Despite the positivity of signing to a new record company with a wider appeal, Johnson decided to leave soon after they signed the deal and Fitzhugh assumed the vocal position, with bass duties being covered by Jason Truby’s brother, Chris. This new incarnation of the band got to work on their fourth album and their first for Solid State, which materialised in 1997 under the appropriate title, "Reborn." The record was very well received by fans and newcomers alike, reaching out to secular listeners as well as the faithful and showing off a venture into new territories thanks to the inclusion of metalcore and groove metal into their sound, leading it to be branded as their most influential album. Once again however, the band would have to hire new hands after the Truby brothers left the group. They eventually settled on former Eso-Charis member Arthur Green as their new bass player and future Evanescence drummer Rocky Gray on guitar, although before the latter joined his position was being filled by Cory Brandan Putman, who would soon become the vocalist of Norma Jean. They rounded off the new lineup with the inclusion of Matt Putman as percussionist.
They turned up the groove metal inclination of their next album, "The Hammering Process," which hit the shelves in the year 2000, which was followed by their first DVD, "The Processed Tour," which included the making of the record. The following year, they were honoured with their own tribute album, which saw their contemporaries, as well as some former members covering songs from the band’s history, before the group themselves released their sixth album, "Conceived in Fire" in 2002, which featured striking artwork by Travis Smith, who had previously produced covers for the likes of Opeth and Katatonia. After Putnam decided to quit following the album’s release, the band announced that they had cancelled all their planned tour dates and would be laying the name to rest. In the time that they were gone, Solid State released a compilation record in 2005 entitled, "In Memoriam" and the band members appeared as guests on other artist’s work, perhaps most notably when Fitzhugh contributed to the Demon Hunter song, "Sixteen" in 2007.
However, in 2008, the prayers of their fans were answered when it was confirmed that Living Sacrifice would be returning to the metal scene, beginning with a supporting slot on an upcoming Demon Hunter tour, before Fitzhugh announced that the band would indeed be releasing a new studio album, which surfaced in 2010 under the title, "The Infinite Order," which spawned a music video for the song, "Rules of Engagement." The album itself boasted several guest appearances, as well as mixing and mastering by Sabbat guitarist, Andy Sneap. It continued where they left off lyrically, referencing Corinthians in the song, "Love Forgives" and criticicing renowned German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche with the track, "Nietzche’s Madness," for his famous "God is dead" quote. The album was preceded by a second DVD, "In Finite Live," which was releasing the next year.
Since then, the band has been touring heavily and performing a dedicated and ever increasing fan base. It is also an exciting time to be a fan of the group, as they will be releasing their eighth full length album, "Ghost Thief" this very week through Solid State Records. They have already released the title track and another song, "The Reaping" which have been met with positive feedback from fans. Like the two other bands mentioned at the beginning of this article, it seems that the decision to reunite was a good one for all concerned as their new material fits in very well with their past releases and the name of Living Sacrifice continues to spread.
Living Sacrifice - "Obstruction"
Living Sacrifice - "... To Nothing"
Living Sacrifice - "Reject"
Living Sacrifice - "Flatline"
Living Sacrifice - "Overkill Exposure"
Living Sacrifice - "The Reaping"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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