Living Sacrifice: The Infinite Order (Review)

25 January 2010

Christopher J Wiles

writer | speaker | servant

It’s been nearly eight years of silence, but this Tuesday Living Sacrifice is set to release their seventh studio album.

How does “The Infinite Order” compare to past releases? I’m quite pleased to say that it’s more of the same, delivering the band’s trademark combination of headbanging intensity and effortless execution.

The music is delivered with the blistering level of energy that you’d expect from these veterans of metal, with a thrashy vibe that hits hard in the first track and persists throughout the album. That said, while tempo changes are abrupt and frequent, listeners should not expect the same dynamics as on previous records. There are no slow interludes or melodic intros – just one straight-to-the-throat metal riff after another. The only break in the audio onslaught occurs at eleventh and final track (“Apostasy”) which features a minute-long acoustic intro.

Guitars shred and thrash in a percussive exchange of force and precision, complimented by tight, inventive solos that bring a maturity and progression not seen in previous efforts. The loose verse-chorus song structure often leads to strong, melodic sections, the results of which have the undelicate beauty of a thunderstorm.

There are clean vocals on the record, though in the few tracks in which they appear they lack the softness found on previous albums. Often the clean vocals are there to back Bruce’s snarling leads, and in some cases the backing vocals are shouted during the chorus.

The current lineup only features Lance Garvin on drums, though several tracks feature additional percussion (I have not seen the liner notes to know who deserves credit).

Though not as jarring as “Imminent War,” the opening track (“Overkill Expression”) sets a brutal tone for the ten remaining tracks. The lyrics fly at you in pieces, and their content is an assault to all five senses:

“I watched them murder and kill / Plot against the destroyed will / I watched a man ripped to shreds / Stench of rot does not offend”

The lyrical ferocity is appropriate to a song focused on “the knowledge of evil,” which features other such phrases as “cannibalistic destruction” and “fanatical debauchery,” before closing with a plea to “guard my heart, guard my will.”

Other tracks deal with the such subjects as the meaninglessness of atheism (“Nietzsche’s Madness”) and the intersection between technology and social Darwinism (“Unfit to Live”).

But the strongest and most consistent theme throughout the record is the message of the gospel. With passion and drive, the record hammers home the contrast between the destructive things of this life with the purpose and hope that God offers.

In “God is my Home,” God is described as one who accepts the “estranged bastard that I am,” and the song is heavily influenced by imagery drawn from the parable of the prodigal son.

“The Reckoning” recounts man’s desperate need of redemption (“My land has been laid to waste…a drop of hope is all I taste”), while the track that follows satisfies this need with powerful lyrics that are

“Through the raging gates of hell / he has shown redemption / He has opened up the skies / And made up for my losses”

The song closes with the lyric“Love forgives travesty,” and drives home its message with the repetition of the line “love forgives…love forgives…love forgives.”

What this band so fundamentally represents is a raging devotion to the gospel, a lesson the church could do well to learn from.

The album’s “single” is a track entitled “Rules of Engagement.” While not anti-war, the song addresses the negative impact overseas conflict can have on the lives of American soldiers. In an interview with noisecreep.com, Bruce Fitzhugh said:

“This song has to do with the impossible situation that some of our military are put into these days. They are fighting an enemy that looks like the civilians they are also trying to protect,”

The band shot an official video for the song, whose production values are among the best I’ve seen.

As a whole, the album represents both the band’s musical aggression and their unrelenting devotion to God’s truth. In an interview with corezine.net, Bruce Fitzhugh called this album his favorite to date, and said that there would be more albums coming “for sure.”

While it will be a few more listens before I make my ruling as to “favorite,” they remain one of my favorite bands and it’s definitely good to hear from them again. Let’s hope it won’t be another eight years before we hear from them again.

You can catch them on tour this February with War of Ages, Shai Hulud, Lionheart, and The Great Commission.

25 January 2010

Christopher J Wiles

writer | speaker | servant

Chris is a writer and speaker from the Charlottesville area. He regularly serves as a research writer for Docent Research Group in addition to doing some guest speaking.

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