I’m glad Living Sacrifice is back, and I don’t think I’m alone in that sentiment. It’s been three years since we’ve gotten a new studio album from the classic metalers, but it’s been over 20 since the band first started out in Little Rock, Arkansas. Ghost Thief does a wonderful job of sounding like Living Sacrifice — which is, in and of itself, a compliment since a lot of the “new” acts these days are borrowing from bands like For Today — but it’s rare to find a band this far along in their career release a monumental album. As Fitzhugh himself has said, it’s hard to put together an original album when you’ve got so much history without rewriting your past.
The good thing is that their sound still holds up. Thrash and metal haven’t gone anywhere, but with metalcore’s mosh moving live ticket sales, it’s harder to sell metal to portions of today’s marketplace. It takes a band like Living Sacrifice to do it so well to warrant attention.
With an eerie swell, the record stars off churning into “Screwtape,” a track that features Demon Hunter frontman Ryan Clark. It’s a solid first single and it rolls along nicely, carrying a steady groove mixed in with some metal twinge and the band’s classic breed of old-school hardcore and thrash. (It reminds me a lot of Haste the Day.)
From there, LS continues to drive home their classic sound and songwriting style. Luckily enough, the next track, “Ghost Thief,” does a wonderful job of showcasing what the band can do with a basic breakdown. They manage to take a fairly straightforward song section and marry it with their songwriting for a memorable bridge. (They do it even better later in the record on “Mask.”) It’s flashes like these that make Ghost Thief worth listening to.
It’s not like Living Sacrifice had to put out a monumental record (they did not), and no one wants to come back from the dead with a mediocre release (they did not). The album succeeds on most fronts, but if we’re judging on all the merits in between, the bulk of the tracks blend in.
But you’re still going to want to own it.