There have been few moments in Christian rock music history when past precedents have been completely annihilated. And fittingly, when Vengeance (later to be known as Vengeance Rising due to legal matters) burst onto Christian bookstore shelves in 1988, it did so on the Intense Records label.
And intense they were. Human Sacrifice was perhaps the greatest Christian thrash album ever recorded, although the 180-degree denunciation of faith by lead singer Roger Martinez has somewhat tarnished the bands legacy. But Human Sacrifice was a rare album that caught hard music lovers off guard. It was intense from the album cover, a spike driven through the nail of a bloodied hand into a cross of wood, to the growling screams of Martinez, that gave the band its definitive sound and made Stryper sound like Sandi Patti. Just listening to the screams at the end of the final track Beheaded is proof enough.
Can’t miss tracks on Human Sacrifice include the title track, Burn, I Love Hating Evil, White Throne, From the Dead and the instrumental Ascension. But there really isn’t a bad track among the 13, although a couple hardly qualify given their length. Musically, the guitar work by Larry Farkas and Doug Theime is lethal. Glenn Mancaruso absolutely destroys the drums and Roger Martin shreds on bass. Add in Martinez’s raspy, near-indecipherable shouts and growls and you have a perfect mix of raw, gritty thrash. Once Dead, the band’s 1990 follow up, may have been a better record in my opinion, but Human Sacrifice was the ground-breaking, ear-splitting record that landed like a bomb on the CCM industry in 1988. It was indeed a moment of shock and awe, and Human Sacrifice is definitely a genre classic.