by Daniel Mitchell
For those not "in the know," Living Sacrifice is one of the most prolific and completely destructive metal bands of the past decade. There's a certain quality to the band's brand of metal -- not quite death, not exactly metalcore, not entirely math metal, but a healthy combination of all, that makes Living Sacrifice the darlings of metal fans of all ages and sizes.
Metal is an inherently evil form of music, when done correctly; when done in a threatening and violent manner, the music becomes something of a driving force within a listener, conjuring up the darkest regions within us all. Living Sacrifice are just as evil and violent as Venom, early Metallica, Black Sabbath, Slayer, and any other metal lords who rock in the name of the evil one; that's what makes Living Sacrifice all the more interesting: Living Sacrifice is a Christian band.
While it may seem paradoxical to play violent and destructive metal in praise of God (Jesus being a pacifist), never is there a doubt that Living Sacrifice are sincere. Their music is completely grating, destructive, and melodic, while simultaneously causing the tapping of feet everywhere. I was lucky enough to discuss things with Bruce of Living Sacrifice recently, and to get the straight poop on one of the most intriguing and "brutal" metal bands of recent years.
Who are you and what do you do in Living Sacrifice?
Bruce Fitzhugh, guitar/vocals.
How do you describe Living Sacrifice to scenesters who haven't heard you? And "non-scenesters"?
I am not sure who are scenesters and who are not. I just tell people that we are metal. Along the lines of old Slayer, Sepultura, and old Metallica.
Your most recent album, Conceived In Fire, is hot stuff; how has reaction to the record been from your fans, in talking to them at shows?
Really good, actually. A lot of people are reacting very well to the album, as far as I can tell. They all seem to think it is one of our best.
I sense some Eso Charis influence in Conceived In Fire; intentional or accidental?
I think accidental. The two former Eso Charis members in our band did not contribute to the music writing much. That was handled primarily by Rocky [Gray, guitar], Lance [Garvin, drums], and myself, to a lesser degree.
If you had been crunched by budget to make Conceived... a four song EP, what four songs would you most want people to hear?
"Symbiotic," "Imminent War," "Subtle Alliance," and "Send Your Regrets."
My favorite Living Sacrifice album is The Hammering Process; it's nearly the perfect metal album, like Master Of Puppets good, seriously. What's your favorite Living Sacrifice album?
Hard to say. I like Reborn, The Hammering Process, and Conceived In Fire the best over all and equally as well for different reasons.
Can you, in three sentences or less, take me through the progression of Living Sacrifice's sound? "No" is an acceptable answer, by the way.
We started as a straightforward thrash band in 1989. Our first album reflected that the most. Our second and third records, Nonexistent and Inhabit incorporated more death metal influences vocally and musically. On our fourth record, our original singer left and I started singing; at that point we took on a less "death" sound and became more of a metalcore band, or so it has been told to me. In my opinion, the second incarnation of Living Sacrifice (with me singing) is just as metal as the other. It is just not death metal.
Let's talk touring: when Living Sacrifice is on tour, what's the most popular stop for food? What's your favorite selection from the menu, the "old reliable," if you will? I'm a bean burrito from Taco Bell man, myself; it's cheap, filling...
Yes, we eat cheap as well on tour. We all like Chinese food and splurge a bit when we can. I like the sesame chicken. Yum...
Who would be the "parental figure" in the van while Living Sacrifice is on tour? Who keeps everyone honest and focused? Does this person enjoy this role?
That would be me. I have to keep the schedule and everyone is really good about it.
Do you have a favorite dance move that kids do at your shows, that you like to see them doing? Also, did you have the nasty problem, a few years back, of kids coming to your shows dressed in superhero or ninja costumes? If so, what did you think? If not, would that type of behavior would be something you're interested in seeing at Living Sacrifice shows in the future?
No favorite dances. No costume problems. In Birmingham Alabama, though, a lot of hardcore kids came to see us with bandanas, gas masks, and hockey goalie masks. Those guys were insane in the pit.
So let's discuss religion: I'm Christian, yet I often review the music of satanic metal bands. I feel that I am able to look past the lyrical content of satanic metal and process the music for what it is... I rarely critique lyrical content. I kind of feel like I'm selling out my Christianity by ignoring the huge pentagram on records like the new Hate one, but do you think I'm doing wrong in turning a blind eye to such lyrical content?
I canít make that judgment for you. Everyone will have their own convictions, regarding what they listen to or watch on TV or movie. I choose to listen to things that are fairly neutral regarding God (i.e. no spiritual stance) or positive toward God. Only because if there is an album that I like a lot and I am listening to it over and over, it is like a form of programming. It can filter into me one way or another, even if subconsciously. That is why corporations spend millions and millions of dollars on commercials that we will see over and over.
How do you feel about the tag "Christian band?"
It is hard at times, because people will not give you a chance. They will just disregard your music. But at the same time, we want Living Sacrifice to mean something. And in that respect, we want to glorify God with our music and our lives.
Rounding to the nearest hundred, how many times do you think Living Sacrifice's music has been described as "brutal" in reviews and interviews? Is "brutal" an accurate word, or would you use a different one?
I like the description "brutal," but it has become over used and cliché. It is a good word, though.
Any bands that you've been listening to that you'd like to turn Living Sacrifice fans onto?
Sure, but it is all non metal lately... Sparta's Wiretap Scars, Chevelle's Wonder What's Next, and Embodyment's Songs for the Living.
I've heard some rumors that Living Sacrifice may be reaching its end as a band; any comments? Regardless, what does the future hold for Living Sacrifice?
We donít know right now. We have no definite plans. We are not a full-time band right now and are not touring. We have toured so much in the past five years, I can see why people would talk. We are just doing shows here and there for now. We will see.
Solid State Records: http://www.solidstaterecords.com Living Sacrifice: http://www.livingsacrifice.com/