Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Movie Review: "30 Years of Sacrifice: The Story of Living Sacrifice"

I can't think of a more fitting title for this music documentary than "30 Years of Sacrifice: The Story of Living Sacrifice." Here is a band who, for all intents and purposes, should sit next to bands like Kreator, Overkill, Exodus, Testament, Death Angel, and the likes in the ceremonial wings of the Heavy Metal Hall of Fame. In many people's minds (including mine), they do. But to some, their overt Christian faith somehow unfairly held them back. That didn't keep them from fighting for their place in both the mainstream and Christian music history for the past three decades.

What we get with "30 Years of Sacrifice: The Story of Living Sacrifice" is the tale of a group of kids whose love for heavy metal became, for some of them, a lifelong career chasing their dreams and ambitions. Along the way, they became sort of unsung heroes in the worlds of thrash, death, hardcore, and heavy music. The members of key bands in their genres like Norma Jean, Underoath, As I Lay Dying, Demon Hunter, and so very many others along the way cite the band as a major influence on them.

Throughout the documentary, we're treated to interviews from band members, past and present, telling their tales of victory and heartache as they make their way through a music industry that both respect and resent them because of their mix of musical talents and Christian faith. The thing about Living Sacrifice that I always found refreshing is, no matter who they played with or where, they always stuck to their beliefs and let the music speak for itself as they toured next to metal giants like Cannibal Corpse and the likes. What's awesome is seeing club owners, radio DJs, record company owners, and even the group's parents and peers attest to their chosen convictions and mastery of their craft in "30 Years of Sacrifice: The Story of Living Sacrifice."

"30 Years of Sacrifice: The Story of Living Sacrifice" is the true story of a band who had its ups and downs. Nothing is sugar-coated or covered up to make them look glamorous. We get candid looks into the backstage world of working class mysicians who have two goals. The first one is to leave their mark in the realm of metal. The second is to use the platform to make a positive impact on new fans, both old and new.

Longtime fan David Lipke directed "30 Years of Sacrifice: The Story of Living Sacrifice" with a perfect blend of professional filmmaking and the admiration and enthusiasm you would expect from a person who has spent the past seven years working on his passion project. The feature-length documentary clocks in at around 2 hours and 12 minutes. It's filled to the brim with great rare footage of the band practicing and performing at music festivals and sold-out shows all over the world. All these videos and clips are expertly weaved together with interviews to give viewers a cohesive narrative that brings us to the present day of the group.

Are we left wanting more at the end of "30 Years of Sacrifice: The Story of Living Sacrifice?" Absolutely. You'll immediately want to go out to your vehicle and blast the band's greatest hits album "In Memorium." You'll long for the pre-Covid days when a crowd of sweaty metalheads could bounce off and climb all over each other as their metal heroes delivered heavy bludgeoning riffs and blast beats that would leave their ears ringing for days. If they have anything to say about it, Living Sacrifice will be on stage to welcome you home when the dust of the pandemic settles.