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Album Review: "Crest of Black" by Japanese Thrash Metal Band Sacrifice

Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

Japan is often called the Land of the Rising Sun. This photo even represents part of the album's title Crest of Black.

Japan is often called the Land of the Rising Sun. This photo even represents part of the album's title Crest of Black.

This article will look at an album review of a very old Japanese musical artist even though they were new to me when I first discovered them back in 2012 or 2013. That artist is the band called Sacrifice from Japan. It is easy for some to confuse the title with the song by Elton John.

The front album cover for Crest of Black


Yes thrash metal does exist in Japan

Welcome to the band Sacrifice and their music and you can clearly hear that the sound resembles the 1980’s. It is a good thing that these guys reformed in 2013 because Japan lost two terrific bands like Shadow and Serpent both of which really helped to strengthen Japan’s heavy metal scene. There are more bands in Japan than just Loudness and X-Japan and Sacrifice are one of them.

Even though the band’s name is Sacrifice, they do not lose much musical quality. You are about to see that this album has some pretty decent songs on it. Why is this writer grateful for having discovered Sacrifice? This is because I realized that Japan has so much more than just pop music or even hard rock. They also have thrash metal which these guys play. The first song I ever heard from these guys is called Destroy. The song is off of their debut album called Crest of Black.

Speaking of the song Destroy, that one may be the strongest song in this album in spite of the less than stellar vocals. The vocals really bring the score of this album down but the riffs and solos more than make up for this deficiency. Lyrically the 6th song is about a town that has been in a state of decay.

The album was released in 1987. Sacrifice had the following members perform on the album:

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Personnel that play on the album "Crest of Black"

  • Akira Sugiuchi-vocals
  • Kazuo Nonaka-guitars
  • Takashi Yazaki-bass guitars
  • Masanori Kawakami-drums

Introduction to the band and the structure of the track listing

Sacrifice was formed back in 1985 and they played until 1992 before breaking up. As of 2013, the band has re-formed. The track listing is divided into two sides A and B. This is because back in 1987, there were still cassette tapes available. I remember as far back as 1996 that there were cassettes available as I was listening to Metallica’s Load album.

The song Friday Nightmare

Crest of Black: How Does it Begin?

The opening song in the album "Friday Nightmare" starts with some orchestration along with a female voice before starting off as a slow and heavy song before speeding up a bit. In that era, Mercyful Fate used a similar kind of tactic where they opened up a song with some orchestration before starting the heavy metal playing. I was always into heavy metal before I started exploring about bands from this island nation and I’m glad I did. The musical talent among Japanese metal musicians is there but it seems that most people in the heavy metal community are not aware of how good Japanese metal can be if they just give it a chance. That’s what this writer did with Metallica’s St. Anger album and the result has been a great appreciation for the heavy, raw riffs which also provide an easier way to get through the day and life. The lyrical content however sometimes leaves a lot to be desired as it is similar to bands such as Deicide but the main riff is still good.

How is the Rest of the Album Crest of Black?

The second song Tank starts out with the noise of a tank rolling in. But this song also speeds up a bit. The lyrics in the album are not the most positive but musically the album is pretty darn good. The solo in the song Tank has speed, melody, and creativity in it. The instrumental song Illusory Scene has the sound of chiming bells and then a very progressive guitar part which is similar to what the band Fates Warning would use later on in their career. It is one of those short beautiful instrumentals. The second part of the instrumental is similar to what Opeth would do on their Morningrise album. The song Witch Hunt begins with the sound of bells before transitioning into a heavy song. The song is about people being in a state of fear as they hunt for witches. Soon, chaos ensues as a town is getting burned. Black Night is a song that is about what will happen if dark clouds consume the Earth. The song also makes reference to what happens if humans wreak havoc without even knowing it. There has been an increase in the Earth’s temperatures in various cities due to the concept of global warming.

Strongest Songs In the Album Crest of Black

The strongest songs in this first album are Friday Nightmare, Illusory Scene, Destroy, Witch Hunt, and Black Night. It is a good thrash metal album for the time but it is not as good as Master of Puppets or Reign in Blood. Even so, this is a good start for these Japanese guys.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2017 Ara Vahanian

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