Sacrifice - "Forward to Termination"

dB HoF No. 131

Label: Diabolic Force
Release date: October 12, 1987

The story of the emergent popularity of Sacrifice’s second album, Forward to Termination, is a shining example of how media used to work and things “went viral” in the days before the internet gave power to trending tweets and twats. Like most bands kicking it throughout the ’80s, the Toronto quartet used tape-traded demos and rehearsals to develop a small underground following. They worked the postal system and “send back my stamps” routine to their advantage, making friends and fans across these United States and abroad with folks like Keith Huckins (Deadguy, Kiss It Goodbye, Rorschach), Swedish metal patriarch Tompa Lindberg and Sigh’s Mirai Kawashima all growing up with fond memories of the band. 

And then there was Canada. As robust a fan base as they developed on their own and around the globe, none of it held a candle to how insanely popular Sacrifice became at home. The fiery impertinence of 1985’s Torment in Fire accelerated metaldom’s thirst for faster, crazier, more vicious, whammy bar-abusing hardcore thrash metal. Two years down the road, however, Sacrifice emerged from an intensive maturation process with album number two, and literally took the nation by storm. 

One expects a band to be most popular on its home turf, but what Sacrifice achieved following the release of Forward to Termination bordered on the surreal, especially considering most of the mainstream world still misunderstood Metallica as “noise.” But that’s the positive impact that good distribution and having your music assault the public at every turn can have. Good things were on the horizon as soon as the needle dropped on the controlled chaos of opener “Terror Strikes,” the Reign in Blood-inspired “Pyrokinesis,” the proton gun hooks of “Cyanide” and “Forever Enslaved,” not to mention seven-minute-plus progressive epic “Flames of Armageddon.” College radio, tape-traders and fanzines were all over the album’s 10 tracks. 

It was, however, the infectious stomp of “Re-Animation,” one of the catchiest songs thrash tunes ever written, that rocketed things to the next level, as metalheads across the country hopped on it like a white cop reaching for his gun in a black neighborhood. After MuchMusic (the Canadian equivalent of MTV) helped filmed the song’s barebones promo video, there was rarely an episode of Power Hour (the Canadian equivalent of Headbangers Ball) during which the video wasn’t aired, and on those rare episodes it sat in the dugout, viewers still got a dose, as the song’s main riff was used in the program’s opening montage. Quickly, Sacrifice developed a rabid following from Vancouver and Victoria to Halifax and St. John’s, and the band graduated from cramped venues to bigger clubs, filling 2,000-seaters at home in Toronto. For a good two years, next to iconic country balladeer Stompin’ Tom Connors’ “The Hockey Song” and “O Canada” itself, “Re-Animation” became Canada’s unofficial national anthem. 

Forward to Termination wasn’t a one-trick pony, though. Guitarist/vocalist Rob Urbinati, guitarist Joe Rico, bassist Scott Watts and drummer Gus Pynn made an astronomical all-around leap to create an album that has not only been revered since it first hit the racks back in 1987, but one whose legend continues to grow to this day. With the passing of time and growth of technology, the popularity of Forward to Termination has resulted in various reissued versions, allowing the band to not only finally perform overseas, but deliver one of the most well-received sets at 2014’s MDF. As the world has caught on to Forward to Termination, it only seems fit to welcome it to our Hall. 

- Kevin Stewart-Panko
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