Living Sacrifice, Embodyment, Eso-Charis, Forgiven, and Overcome 
Skrappy’s--Tucson, Arizona 
Sunday, June 14, 1998. 
By Chris King 

Skrappy’s is an interesting place. It’s a quaint, little, all ages, non-alcohol serving, hardcore/metal club. There are a few couches around the perimeter and a big mattress tied to the corner of the “bar” counter. The soundboard, the sodas, the microwave popcorn, and the pasta are all run and served from behind that counter. The place has a lot of personality. 

This show was heavily anticipated, and first up was a local five-piece  Tucson band called Forgiven. They are fairly new, so I had not seen them before. As they started the first song of their short set, I was pleasantly surprised with the fat low-end rumbling through the speakers. Forgiven play a sort of doomy mix of hardcore and metalcore. Generally, the songs were slow to mid-paced and well-written,  and the playing was tight. I plan to keep an eye on this band. 

Next up was Eso-Charis, a four-piece Arkansas band who joined the Living Sacrifice/Embodyment tour for a short while. These guys played about five-six songs, and they rocked hard! Metalcore with a slightly high, almost blackish, vocal delivery, and they did it with passion. The screamer also played guitar, and the other guitarist and the bassist also “sang.” They were all just going crazy up there on stage, and still managed play with tightness and precision. Killer vocals, killer energy, killer songs...I bought their newly released CD as soon as they ended their set. 

Embodyment was up third. They've got a three-song demo out that I just love. It’s full-on, well-written, death metal with awesome drumming. Everything about it is death metal, including the vocal delivery. I know from e-mailing the band, and just checking around on the Internet, that these guys really like hardcore, and are really involved in the hardcore scene. They have recently signed with Solid State Records (a division of Tooth & Nail), and they have an album due out very soon. In a recent interview in Dead e-zine Kris McCaddon, their vocalist, said that the music on the album will be more intense than ever, but the vocals will change slightly to a more “emotional” style. This scared me. My other favorite band, Living Sacrifice, did this “to me”, and I didn’t want to go through it again. All of this swirling around in my mind made me curious to see this band and hear their new material. As they took the stage and started to play, I was just freaking out! They were so tight and intense...they blew me away! They played the song Golgotha from their demo, and a bunch of new tunes. Their drummer, Mark Garza, was back there just pounding out the cool blast beat-laden death metal percussion with a high degree of precision. All five members were exploding with intensity and emotion, falling to the floor, jumping around, freaking out other ways. The bass player, Kevin Donnini, looked as though he was having a mental breakdown. These guys are the band to see! The band to hear! They are the band!! There was less moshing during their set, which I attribute to a lot of the fans just watching Mark Garza drum, watching the rest of the band perform, and tripping out on the intensity of the music flowing out of the speakers and through all of us. I would have to say it was the best metal/hardcore show I have ever seen or heard. 
  
As for the change in vocal delivery...they were definitely more like the harsh shouted/screamed "metalcore" style of vocals. Was I let down? Not at all, though I do prefer lower, growled death metal vocals. The difference between the Living Sacrifice change and the Embodyment change is that Embodyment still play death metal with a very slight hardcore influence, and metalcore vocals. Living Sacrifice seems to have abandoned the death metal in their music, and gone to a metal/hardcore hybrid, with more equal parts of each. They do it better than most, to be sure, but it is what it is, which brings us to their set... 

Living Sacrifice, once my favorite band, took the stage. They played most of their Reborn album, and one song, "Enthroned", from the old days. Every time I hear or read a Living Sacrifice concert review, the reviewer comments on how tight they play their sets. This night they were not as tight as I expected them to be. This was probably due to them having a new bass player, and borrowing one of the guys from Eso-charis to fill their second guitar position. 

We got a bit of an unexpected treat, though, during/after their second song, "Reject". Bruce Fitzhugh (vocals/guitar) had a bit of a problem when someone “fell” into his guitar and the strings got all tangled up, or something. He put the guitar down, and they continued the song with only one guitar and Fitzhugh singing. It was actually great, and the pit was slammin’. After that song, Fitzhugh proceeded to fix his guitar, and Lance Garvin (drums) started doing a little drum solo...which Mark Garza (Embodyment drummer) joined with three of his drums set up on the side of the stage! It was cool. Sometimes bad things turn out to be good! Garza also joined in a little later near the end of another song. 

Overall, Living Sacrifice put on a strong show, and the moshpit was a lot of fun. One thing about Living Sacrifice that I noticed was it seems that three out of four of the guys who played are growing their hair out. This may seem like a “so what” to many people, but as an old metal head, I think it’s cool, and could even indicate a change in musical direction! 

Overcome was the last band to play, even though I am pretty sure Living Sacrifice was the headliner. It was getting late, and I am not a big Overcome fan, so I didn’t watch their set. I hung outside with the main  singer from local Tucson band Slain, listening to the new Zao for a few minutes, and then I went home. 

It was a great show....