n. the killing of one or more human beings as part of religious ritual
Human sacrifice is the act of killing one or more human beings, usually as an offering to a deity, as part of a ritual. Human sacrifice has been practiced in various cultures throughout history. Victims were typically ritually killed in a manner that was supposed to please or appease gods, spirits or the deceased, for example as a propitiatory offering or as a retainer sacrifice when a king's servants are killed in order for them to continue to serve their master in the next life. Closely related practices found in some tribal societies are cannibalism and headhunting.
By the Iron Age, with the associated developments in religion (the Axial Age), human sacrifice was becoming less common throughout the Old World, and came to be looked down upon as barbaric in classical antiquity. In the New World, however, human sacrifice continued to be widespread to varying degrees until the European colonization of the Americas.
In modern times, even the practice of animal sacrifice has virtually disappeared from all major religions (or has been re-cast in terms of ritual slaughter), and human sacrifice has become extremely rare. Most religions condemn the practice, and modern secular laws treat it as murder. In a society which condemns human sacrifice, the term ritual murder is used.
Human Sacrifice is the first studio album by the Christian death and thrash metal band Vengeance Rising. It is the first full length Christian thrash metal album as it was released in 1988. Though controversial, Human Sacrifice and the following album, Once Dead were huge successes in the world of Christian music, making Vengeance Rising one of the few bands in the genre to cross over into the secular music scene. Dave Caughney of Cross Rhythms magazine wrote in 1990 that this "legendary classic debut [...] breathed much needed freshness into the somewhat stale white metal (Christian metal) scene". HM Magazine editor Doug Van Pelt called Human Sacrifice "the most radical Christian album ever released". In 2010, HM ranked Human Sacrifice the best Christian metal album of all time on its Top 100 list because it "tilted the Christian metal world on its ear".
The lyrics of Human Sacrifice retell several major points of Christ's ministry: His incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and second coming. The band compares the form to that of an opera, with a dramatic beginning, middle, and ending.