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Yeah, Massacre. They pulled it off, after being a bunch of badass people up until the release of the 1996 abomination "Promise". But, here we are in the year 2012, and these guys have finally begun to put out new material!
Musically speaking, it's not all that different from what they were doing on "From Beyond" or "Inhuman Conditions", which is really fuickin' awesome because those releases are monsters! The fella's have deceided to come back and put out this two track ep in order to tide the material deprived fans until they can get a full length under way, it certainly does it's job. "Back From Beyond" starts up with an instantly badass and catchy riff that immediately invokes an old-school approach to death metal. The riffs are constant throughout, always finding some other way to kick your ass, Rick Rozz is still in top form, switching from disgusting death/doom riffs to extremely intense chugging riffs that remind one of the early 90's metal scene, and his solos are still fucking amazing, as he shows you later on in the song. The second song on here "Succumb To Rapture" is pretty much the same thing in terms of sheer badassness and riff-based destruction. It's extremely obvious that Massacre are back and ready for fucking anything!
Now, what did somewhat dishearten me was the lack of original vocalist Kam Lee, his vocals are fucking heavy as can be, and he can still pull off the style (As proven with The Grotesquery and Bone Gnawer), but due to constant arguing among the band members, he was not brought back for this EP. Instead we have Edwin Webb performing vocals, those of you that explore the metal underground on a regular basis (Which is hopefully all of you) will know him as the Generichrist vocalist and ex-vocalist/ of the killer death metal band Diabolic. Now, Edwin pulls off the vocal position here just as well as Kam Lee could've and he really does the Massacre legacy justice. His vocals range from some really good low pitches to a more midrange old-school growl with some occasional badass higher pitcher shrieks thrown in for good measure. Like i mentioned earlier, he really does Massacre a justice, then again Massacre does metal a justice by releasing more material "from beyond". Yeah, thats a pun, bask in it.
Also worthy of note are bassist Terry Butler and the new drummer Mike Mazzonetto, they really work well together as the rhythmic section of things. Mike is a pretty badass drummer, pulling off some pretty wild double bass, some gnarly drum fills and some fairly sophisticated cymbal play (especially on Succumb To Rapture), while Terry Butler has once again proven that he is a true bassmaster (more puns). Terry's got some really unique moments on this EP (that i won't spoil for you listeners that haven't heard the material yet), he's an extremely skilled bassist and is able to play some really awesome bass licks throughout, these little moments play with the guitar riff at the time and then just become WILD for a split second before returning to lurching around in the background.
All in all i'd recommend this little EP to anyone who enjoys good death metal, if you're a Massacre fan this won't disappoint you, this is not a sequel to "Promises", thank the dark lord. My only problem here is that two songs are not enough, i've been waiting for new material ever since I first heard "From Beyond" back in 2001. My 11 years of waiting hungers for far more than two tracks!
Many have probably followed the bickering between Kam Lee and his former band mates who remain in Massacre; I haven't exactly read up on the drama, but for whatever reason, the opposing forces haven't reconciled their differences, and the 'comeback' release features instead one Edwin Webb in the vocal position, as well as a new drummer in Mike Mazzonetto. With Condemned to the Shadows, a two track EP, the band are more or less attempting to reconcile themselves with a fan base starved for the old school, and thankfully entirely ignoring their 1996 abortion Promise (hands down one of the worst metal albums I've ever heard), so we can all rest a little easier.
The sound here is pretty much a straight continuity with the From Beyond album which dropped over two decades past, and the Inhuman Condition EP which followed it. I was never a huge proponent for the band, greatly favoring their contemporaries Death and Obituary, whose albums Scream Bloody Gore, Leprosy and Slowly We Rot best defined that old Florida sound alongside Morbid Angel in the late 80s. Though were active pretty early on, Massacre still felt to me like something of an also-ran, and the riffs and song structures were never quite so creepy or memorable. Truth be told, I had a similar reaction to the tracks presented here. While the execution is competent, and they fully embrace the atmosphere of the 80s decade recordings, eschewing polish, progression and technicality, the writing doesn't seem to accomplish much more than that.
Let's give this quartet some credit, though, because for what it's worth, they flex all the chops one would expect of a Florida band during the dawn of death. Rozz's riffing is muscular, between sepulchral chugged patterns and an occasional lurch into morbid death/doom, and he glazes the gloom with a number of screaming miniature leads and effects that truly contribute to its atmosphere. The rhythm section is 'beyond' fantastic, in fact I'm not sure the drums and bass in this band ever sounded so good: Butler keeps his lines dextrous and interesting beneath the rhythm guitar, and Mazzonetto is quite the find with a lot of solid fills and a very live aesthetic to the production of his kit that feels genuine and energetic. As for Webb, he doesn't attempt to rock the boat too much here, there's a fair share of Schuldiner and Lee in his inflection and he can efficiently alternate between yawning chasm growls and a few salacious rasps.
If I were to judge this music on its production alone, I'd have to say I was fairly impressed, because they sound as rejuvenated as a freshly risen corpses out to do their zombie master's bidding. The music is dark and crushing, the intent is pure. As far as career necromancy, this is a feat on par with the newer Autopsy releases, and I probably enjoyed this just as much if not more than anything the band has previously manifest. It's a complete 180 from the bullshit in the mid 90s, and fans who really love their old records should find it much to their inclination. That said, the songs here didn't push all the right buttons in terms of their actual note progressions, the riffs seemed like mere retreads and not so interesting. Assuming the band's recording a new full-length in the near future, they'll have more breadth and variation to work with, but these 8 minutes were not wholly satisfactory. Not bad, though, not at all. They've got the acting down, they simply need a better script.