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I have received much criticism for my not-insanely-high opinion of the Sacrifice debut. It's not BAD, but somehow it lacks both historical importance and sheer enjoyability. I'm actually not sure what year this came out. I have heard both 1985 and 1987, and if it were 1985 then perhaps it would rate just a bit higher, but even then, it would stand as a monument to poor production, and little else.
Damning evidence: the 1985 "The Exorcism" demo. This demo sounds similar to the LP, except it is produced MUCH better. Now don't try to convince me that the band's resources became worse when they got actual studio equipment... the difference is a tribute to technique, or the lack thereof. The mix is awful, due to the drums being somewhat overloud, and in the case of the cymbals, so loud that every brass hit turns into a terrible disintegration of pink noise.
What about the songwriting? It's average at best, clutching at straws as I don't really think the band had much of an identity at the time. Unlike "Forward to Termination", where the melodic parts provide effective counterpoints to the brutal vocals and riffs, here it just sounds like average speed/thrash... a slightly NWOBHM-tinged worship of the early Slayer material. A bit of Hell Awaits, some more of Show no Mercy, and also some of the really early stuff creeps in - remember Ice Titan and all? This is faster, but still not much more intense, but it's hard to tell under that blur of production. There is a touch of the 'Canadian' sound of slight 80s over-the-topness, as also evidenced by Anvil, Razor (especially that debut EP) and of course Exciter. Lots of long instrumental passages and speed-metal breaks (see "Exciter" again, especially in "Turn in Your Grave", which could be a Heavy Metal Maniac track if not for the different vocal style) contribute to a somewhat NWOBHM feel, which makes this album not a contender in an extreme-thrash context. By 1985 (which is, I believe, when the songs were written, never mind the release date), we certainly had Chemical Warfare to show us the way, and also death metal was rearing its ugly head.
To call this album an ideological failure would be a bit too harsh, but it's not really much of a success either. A lot of people call this brutal, but it's really just overdistorted and underproduced... it really sounds like they were trying for a Venom/Bathory sound, but had listened to too much Exciter, and were caught between two worlds. While Venom pulled off the "let's play much more poorly than we technically can" aspect, Sacrifice did not. Fortunately, their songwriting, playing, and production would all improve on the next three albums. But here, it seems a bit forced and awkward, and starts to really run out of ideas by the end, as Beyond Death drags on for five minutes, attempting to be too many things at the same time - slow parts, fast parts, all thrown together in Cliff's Notes form... "Flames of the End", this is not, and nor is it Eight Minute "Tormentor" (from the Slayer 3/28/83 live recording).
If you like speed metal and thrash metal, and are not opposed to some really grim production, then you may as well pick this up. But don't expect something along the lines of Morbid Visions or Endless Pain... it's just not in that league. But do check out the first demo, which surprisingly is more enjoyable.