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Living Sacrifice

 

Living Sacrifice is a Christian death metal band from Little Rock (Pulaski County) that has paved the way for Christian metal as a genre. The group gets its name from the Bible, Romans 12:1, which reads: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”

Living Sacrifice was formed in 1989 by bassist and vocalist Darren (D. J.) Johnson, drummer Lance Garvin, and guitarist Bruce Fitzhugh. Guitarist Jason Truby joined the band shortly after its founding. Fitzhugh and Garvin are the only members to have stayed in the band throughout its many changes in membership and sound, as well as its ebbs and flows in popularity. Living Sacrifice was inspired by local punk band Trusty to start creating original music, but the group had a difficult time starting out, as Christian metal was practically unheard of as a genre, particularly in Arkansas. However, when Vino’s—a Little Rock pizzeria and brewery with a small space for concerts—opened in 1990, the band began playing there and gaining fans in its hometown.

The members of Living Sacrifice showed great skill instrumentally as well as in songwriting, and the band was soon signed to R.E.X. Records. The band released its first album, Living Sacrifice, in 1991. After touring and performing for both secular and Christian audiences nationwide, the band released its second album, Nonexistent, in 1992. The band quickly became popular with Christian teenagers, as its albums sounded instrumentally similar to secular metal bands such as Anthrax and Slayer but had Christian metal bands such as Believer and the Crucified as its main lyric influences.

In 1994, the band released its third album, Inhabit—its last with R.E.X., which was suffering financial problems. The band signed with the new Solid State Records, a division of the Christian label Tooth & Nail, which focuses on more extreme hard rock music. In 1995, founder Johnson left the band to pursue mission work outside of music, and Fitzhugh became the lead singer, though he continued playing guitar. Chris Truby joined as a bassist.

In 1997, the band released its fourth album, Reborn, recorded at Barry Poynter’s studio in Little Rock, and began to gain more mainstream fans. As a result of this album, the band also received several offers to sign with larger mainstream recording companies but decided to re-sign with Tooth & Nail. Both of the Truby brothers left; Jason Truby went on to play in the rock band P.O.D. Arthur Green, from the band Eso-Charis, joined to play bass, and Rocky Gray joined and took over guitar. In 2000, the band released its fifth album, The Hammering Process, and toured the country with several metal bands, both secular and Christian.

By 2002, the band was beginning to fragment due to members committing to other projects outside of the band. Gray left the band to play drums for Evanescence, and Matt Putman replaced him as drummer for the remainder of the band’s shows. Living Sacrifice released its sixth album, Conceived in Fire, that same year and began touring. The band ended the tour early, playing a farewell concert at Vino’s on June 28, 2003. In 2005, the band released In Memoriam, a compilation album with three newly recorded songs.

On February 4, 2008, Living Sacrifice announced that it was re-forming. Band members Fitzhugh, Garvin, Green, and Gray all returned. The band immediately began a six-week tour and released a digital EP. In 2010, it released a new album, The Infinite Order, produced by Jeremiah Scott, which drew back many original fans while making its music accessible to a new generation. In 2010, the band headlined Tooth & Nail’s “A Very Metal Christmas” tour and announced in December 2012 that it was beginning to write and record a new album at Fellowship Hall Sound recording studio in Little Rock.

For additional information:
“Living Sacrifice.” Encyclopaedia Metallum. http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Living_Sacrifice/3002 (accessed April 1, 2013).

“Living Sacrifice.” Solid State Records. http://www.solidstaterecords.com/artists/51/Living_Sacrifice/ (accessed April 1, 2013).

“A Metal Band with a Message.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, December 14, 2001, p. 4W.

Wilcox, Lauren. “Living Sacrifice Pioneered Music for Christians, Metal Heads Alike.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, April 24, 2005, p. 6W.

Darby Burdine
University of Central Arkansas

Last Updated 9/5/2013

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