Aug 192018
 

On the 30th anniversary of the groundbreaking release of the thrash masterpiece Human Sacrifice, Roxx Records has released a previously unheard original mix of the album stripped of all effects.

Vengeance Rising as they’ve been known since 1989 is one of those iconic bands metalheads should know.  Formed back in 1987 and originally just as Vengeance, the band’s first release was labeled by many including Doug van Pelt of HM as “the most radical Christian album ever released” and for good reason.  At a time when Stryper was considered heavy, Vengeance literally destroyed that concept with their blend of rapid fire drums, raspy shouted/growled vocals and fast guitar riffs sounding much like contemporaries in the regular music world including Slayer and Dark Angel.  The history of the band is a saga all of its own and would fill several pages as it includes band members leaving the faith, internal band squabbles and ultimately some near reunion shows with different vocalists replacing Roger Martinez.

As advertised, this mix of Human Sacrifice does away with all the studio production and provides what many would consider a more real, almost live experience.  In many ways, it’s as if the band set up in a small room and is playing the songs in front of you.  While not quite the same as the previously released version, this one is not a low quality demo by any means and could have stood on its own.  Overall the sound is perhaps a little thinner but the drums are clear in the mix and while the guitars carry the sound as you’d imagine from a thrash album, the bass provides that low end that keeps the songs moving along.  Some of the songs are a bit different which is always interesting, “Mulligan Stew” for example has an extended ultra-fast near breakdown section at the end that is not present in the released version and in the background at the end you can hear some onlooker’s applause.

The album begins with the title track and the opening guitar salvo sounds much like what you’d expect from late 80’s hair metal bands as an opening but then the song launches into a fast thrash riff that one can imagine immediately frightened some listeners.  Roger Martinez’s growled, raspy vocals were also likely quite a surprise and remind me quite a bit of what I remember hearing many years later on Zao’s Where Blood and Fire Bring Rest.  What always struck me was the short songs on the album from the 6 second “Receive Him” which was covered brilliantly by Five Iron Frenzy on their live album, to the 14 second  “Salvation” to the 50 second “He is God” with its nearly clean vocals and machine gun fire drums.  For those who haven’t heard the album before, there is a good bit of variety in the song structure and riffs which tend to be lacking in some thrash albums and this helps keep the listener engaged.  “Burn” is a great example with its opening groove bass line and riff that leads right into the verse before abruptly stopping and restarting in full thrash and repeating this general structure throughout. The slower clean guitar intro of “I Love Hating Evil” sounds eerily reminiscent of Ozzy’s  “You Can’t Kill Rock n Roll” which is an interesting touch. Granted the song quickly goes into full thrash mode with Martinez’s vocals working very hard to keep up the pace with the guitars, and then features a guitar solo amid what is almost a breakdown like section before relaunching the thrash, but the combination of elements is what makes the album a great listen.

In many ways, thrash is often closer to punk than to metal and hearing this mix of the album drives home that point and makes it different enough from the previously released studio version that it is worth picking up and giving a listen. The power comes through cleanly in the stripped down mix and while the previously released version had its own impact and became legendary, this version deserves to be heard.

Rating: 8.5/10

Written by John Jackson

Track Listing:
1. Human Sacrifice
2. From The Dead
3. Ascension
4. Receive Him
5. Burn
6. Fatal Delay
7. White Throne
8. Salvation
9. I Love Hating Evil
10. Fill This Place With Blood
11. He is God
12. Mulligan Stew
13. Beheaded

Band Members
Roger Martinez – vocals
Larry Farkas – lead guitar
Doug Thieme – rhythm guitar
Roger Dale Martin – bass
Glenn Mancaruso – drums

Record Label: Roxx Records

Release Date: July 27th. 2018

Buy the album here:
Holland: 
First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission

Lyric video for ‘Receive Him’

 

 

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