Massacre’s name is carved on death metal’s monumental stone (the stone that’s covered by filthy moss, decayed slowly by moisture) for a simple reason: they offered us “From Beyond” thirty years ago. This exact point is the trap for a review like the one you’re reading now. Hence, let me not avoid some stereotypical questions, before proceeding to more crucial matters: What should they do? Should they struggle to surpass their debut? Is it meaningful to compare a new work with a monumental album? On the other hand, I feel that it’s not historically fair for them to restrict themselves to their debut. They need a decent album that should play the role of a worthy successor, succeeding where the dull “Back from Beyond” failed (I don’t even mention the garbage they released in the mid-nineties).
I’ve lost count of how many times Massacre disbanded and reunited, let alone the line-up changes. Irrespective of what happened in the past, we should focus on a simple fact: the band is active again, due to Kam Lee’s persistence, releasing “Resurgence”. This time, he gathered an international line-up, recruiting Jonny Pettersson, Rogga Johansson and Scott Fairfax on guitars (the first two of them contribute to songwriting) and Brynjar Helgetun on drums. Hence, Lee and Borders on bass are the only remaining members since the early days (have in mind that none of the current members participated in “Back from Beyond”, seven years ago).
“Resurgence” leaves no room for misunderstandings. Florida’s familiar death sound, “married” with thrash references, is heard through your speakers; that rotten sound that’s largely responsible of what we hear since then. Things are straightforward: Massacre remain loyal to themselves, unleashing recognizable and easily memorable riffs through a triple guitar attack. It’s like you come across a good old friend on the road, whom you haven’t seen for years, and you socialize with him easily, unpretentiously, as though you last saw him yesterday.
Pettersson and Johansson brought their expertise from their engagement in numerous projects, adjusting their ideas to Massacre’s sound. “Resurgence” spreads Lovecraft’s aesthetics, starting impressively with “Eldritch Prophecy” in a rather ritualistic and horrific manner. However, most of the album is dominated by Massacre’s unrestrained force: from “Innsmouth Strain” onwards, up-tempo, remorseless, wrathful riffing themes strike ears endlessly, maintaining addiction and making you wait eagerly for the next track. Massacre don’t need complicated textures to put their aura across, but the composing duo has done excellent job in combining galloping -at the verge of thrash- rhythms with heavy breakdowns, forming a cohesive work, full of dynamism, intended for purists.
On top of that, they exploit Lee’s guttural, abyssal growls, so that the unholy invocations to the Great Old Ones become more horrific, and death dynamites like “The Whisperer in Darkness”, “Servants of Discord” and “Spawn of the Succubus” become more decayed and aligned with the philosophy of “From Beyond”. The closing with “Return of the Corpse Grinder”, a sequel to the notorious track of the debut, is the very essence of Massacre: nothing more and nothing less than bloody violence from Tampa, Florida.
On the other hand, the co-existence of three guitarists predisposes you to experience something analogue to three guitars. However, as I mentioned earlier, “Resurgence” is rather straightforward. Undoubtedly, riffage is well-crafted and precise, but there are few occasions where you can spot the full potential of these members (provided that you put your enthusiasm aside). Massacre’s stuff isn’t that diverse and multi-layered so that three guitars could be justified. Actually, they could do the job equally well with less “horsepower”.
Now, let me be stereotypical again, returning to an initial question: “Resurgence” cannot reach neither the nightmarish insanity, nor the abyssal, primitive sound of “From Beyond”. But it justifies the purpose it was created for: Massacre aren’t an “one-album-band” anymore. Now, they have in their disposal another distinguishable work. Indeed, “Resurgence” is mainly a celebration of Tampa’s (and the band’s) legacy, daring to look into the eyes of the debut without fear due to its high-quality standards. Of course, it’s not a kind of a reinvented wheel of death metal; we don’t expect something like this from Massacre. What we wanted from them, was to let us stare again into their abyss; and that’s exactly what they did. Definitely, “Resurgence” is a significant chapter of this year’s death metal.