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VENGEANCE: Human Sacrifce (Unreleased First Mix)

This is one of the coolest collector's items of all time. Like most albums, a first mix is made that rarely sees the light of day. Musicians with O.C.D. and perfectionist ears pore over each note, making sure what comes out to the public is exactly how they hope it to sound. Notes are taken, opinions are shared and an engineer goes back into the control room with the producer and cranks out a final version.

This was an all-important, epic and genre-bending release - at least for the Christian metal world. "The Christian version of Slayer" was methodically put together as an intentional artistic statement into the world of thrash and speed metal. While this might sound like a recipe for an evangelical disaster, it was actually an excellent piece of art that stood our world on its ear. This wasn't a slouching, hack-kneed and well-meaning effort to reach the lost. It was a metal onslaught that fired correctly on all cylinders and took prisoners with every listen.

Human Sacrifice is the best Christian metal album of all-time. At least the editorial team at Heaven's Metal Magazine collectively think so. What's funny is that a gaff of epic proportions appears in the middle of "Burn," where an open channel was not gated or muted before the guitar solo kicks in, making everyone wonder why that was never fixed before being mass produced. This release does not have such a mistake. However, comparing it to the classic release we've all been listening to for the past 30 years is almost a mistake. How do you compare an alternate version to a classic?

This album is not better than the original, so don't think you can make awesome better. However, like many albums, there's always regrets and what-ifs in regards to the mixes that were left behind. This album is raw, but heavy as stink. The vocals take a mid-to-back seat to the two guitars, bass and drums that are a wall of sound. I think having the vocals pulled up in the final mix was a smart decision (and it's hard to argue with what we're all familiar with now), especially since the vocals sound like a man ablaze in the vocal booth. In this first mix, the vocals have to compete with all the other instruments and one has to strain even more to decipher them. But, oh, how fun is the machine-like heaviness of this band, galloping along at varying and dizzying speeds.

It's a qualified album, but a really fine treat for us fans. [Roxx Records]

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