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Meaty muppet moshing massacre - 63%

autothrall, June 16th, 2011

Though its demo status and sound quality might serve as a barrier to those seeking studio level output, The Second Coming is nonetheless the best of Massacre's body of work. Until Hell's Headbangers re-issued it in 2008, though, there was very little means by which to get your hands on it (the material was avoided for the Tyrants of Death compilation a few years prior). Originally offered to their then label Earache in 1990 for appraisal, this is a Massacre that might have been. A beefier, death/thrashing hybrid entity which delivered far more on the riffing skills than the incarnation most would come to know with the lacking From Beyond album or Inhuman Condition EP. Sadly, it earned a red light from the label, and Kam Lee and crew were sent back to the drawing board.

Now, just because I said this is the 'best' of Massacre, doesn't mean it's the bees knees, or worth going out of one's way to acquire. What you've got is a pretty standard thrash affair with more similarities to S.O.D. and early Sacred Reich than the Florida death metal of the members' peers. Lot of meaty mosh rhythms that permeate "The Second Coming" or "Mangled", pretty much built for tough guys. The riffs are bouncy and fun, and the bass is dialed up thick, perhaps too thick when Butch Gonzales starts slapping and popping like an asshole during "Devouring Hour". You do get the occasional death metal breaks in the rhythms, mostly in "Bleed to Death" or "Psychopain Trip", but without Lee's association with bands like Death in the scene, I doubt anyone would categorize this as death metal. As for Lee himself, he uses this angry tone redolent of Rowlf from the Muppets, if he were pissed off and packing projectiles and sharp objects, but he does have a unique character about him, and also lets out a few noteworthy screams (as in "Mangled") that kick ass.

In summation, The Second Coming is not really the Massacre that would go on to its (undeserved) cult status, and it's got a handful of issues. The bass too dorky in spots, the actual riffs not that standout, but the overall atmosphere is furious and sure to have old school 80s thrashers into Nuclear Assault and S.O.D. breaking out their hi tops for some shit kicking. I can sort of see where Earache were coming from in rejecting this: thrash was phasing out of style by this point, and they wanted more extremity (i.e. death metal). That said, I enjoy this a little more than From Beyond because at least its not just a third rate (if not terrible) bite off Death, Obituary and other death metal bands that had grown popular at the time. I was able to connect with this material a sliver more, and I wonder if they would have ultimately gotten a more favorable reaction in the thrash genre.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

The Second Coming - 90%

dyingseraph84, May 24th, 2010

I agree totally with both reviewers when they say that this is the best thing Massacre has released. It has no ties with From Beyond or Promise (which is a failure of Cold Lake like proportions). It’s a strange listen at first because other than Kam Lee’s distinctive voice, you wouldn’t think this was Massacre. This has much more in line with bands like Pestilence, Atheist, and Insanity.

Rick Rozz pulls out all the stops on this demo. His guitar playing is fierce and grinding, and the absence of solos is a great! Let’s face it Rick Rozz is not a great lead player. Riffs careen back and forth from tremolo picked sections to mid tempo Celtic Frost styled riffs. The drum work is very tight and that’s not Bill Andrews behind the kit either, that’s probably a good thing because Joe Cangelosi is light years better than Mr. Andrews.

The bass is very pronounced and played with great technical skill, check out that little lead section in Devouring Hour for a good representation of Butch Gonzalas’s playing abilities. Kam Lee’s vocals are not the same monotone guttural growls found on From Beyond. Here, they are much more thrash sounding and much more unique.

There are some weak points here though. Some of these transitions don’t work very well and to be honest, hurt the flow of some of the songs with Devouring Hour being the main culprit. I know that this is just a demo but I feel the guitar tone sounds too warm and doesn’t have enough bite to it. For standout tracks though, I would have to go with The Second Coming, and Mangled as the best of this bunch.

It is amazing to me that earache records rejected this material. From Beyond had its moments, but this was a fresh bunch of ideas injected into the Massacre sound. When you really look at it From Beyond was just a collection of songs from their first demos mixed in with some filler. The Second Coming on the other hand, had a lot to impress with. It truly is a shame that not a lot of people know about this, so if you see it and you’re a massacre fan get it!, this truly is their best stuff.

PoBDZ3: Agreed with prev. reviewer - their best - 80%

vrag_moj, July 4th, 2009

This recording has approximately 20 years of vintage on it. One might remember the band's one contribution to late 80's Ameriacan Death Metal - the album "From Beyond" well this is a demo for their second, unreleased album that was apparently rejected by their label Earache. This disk was re-released by Hell's Headbangers and I can see why - with no hope in hell in hearing this again by newer guys unless they get into hardcore tape-trading or P2P action seeing this album's awesomeness relegated to oblivion. OK this 6-song demo, it is too short to be an album but there is a bonus track, in fact "From Beyond" live in 92 revving the playtime up to 38 minutes of unholy spin.

Whilst the band has been commented on as being a paler version of Morbid Angel, this I feel is completely unfair. Massacre hail from the same genre and time-period so there are some points of comparison, but there is so much more to their sound and musicianship, that Morbid Angel never venture into, that allow Massacre attain an atmosphere and sound of their own. On this release, they have a darker sound owing to the slightly muffled subterranean production and the use varying vocal styles - from hardcore grunts to horrifying shrieks. The sort of dynamics the band employs hail from punk and early thrash also, with the closing song "Psychopain Ttrip" being a solid thrust in the direction of Slayer. Moreover there are technical bass lines that sometimes take the lead with quick finger-picked and slap bass that serve up a few surprises to the mind so far bludgeoned by numbing death metal. In places this reminds me of Primus.

This is a really enjoyable release that still sounds dark and extreme all these years past. They may be a footnote now, but I think Massacre more than stood up to their peers, so check this disk out.

Originally published in Procession of Black Doom zine #3

Possibly Their Best Material - 86%

BassLord, June 3rd, 2009

I never really bothered to get into Massacre. I had always been aware of them, especially when I was first getting into old school death metal, but something about them always turned me off, be it the goofy album covers, the fact that most members of this band were rejects of Death or members of Six Feet Under, or just the overall consensus that even though they were somewhat influential, that they're music is pretty mediocre. Well when I finally did decide to give this band a shot, I skipped over their not too impressive full lengths and picked up this re-release of Massacre's final demo.

It is a shame that more people don't know about this release because it is probably their strongest collection of songs. The music on hand is very strong, riffy old school death metal, with just enough technical finesse and unique rhythmic structures to elevate it above many other of the bands peers. To me, it seems the great increase in musical quality came from the hiring of a new rhythm section for this recording, as the bands overall chops and tightness have never been more apparent.

Rick Rozz certainly wasn't the best guitarist around, but on this recording he really stepped up his song writing. Almost all of the riffs at hand are indeed catchy, or at least interesting, especially when compared to many of this band's other songs. Check out "By Reason of Insanity", which is definetly one of the bands sickest and most melodic songs. The style of Death at the time does come to mind more than a few times though, but I guess that is to be expected. Even though this is an old recording, it really does have a good level of brutality, with some riffs even bordering on chuggy near-slams, like the end of the title track.

Another surprising thing unlike other Massacre recordings is the complete asbsence of guitar solos, which to seems most likely due to the recording situation. The sound on this demo certainly is that of an old school death metal demo, and sounds to me like a live rehearsal with overdubbed vocals. There is only one guitar track present, so they probably just weren't able to overdub any additional guitars. Honestly though, this ends up being one of the demo's biggest strengths, because the lack of Rick Rozz's constant Kerry King styled dive bomb and whammy bar abuse leaves nothing to distract from the excellent riffage.

The bass on the other hand serves up plenty of leads, and is probably the best played instrument on here. Seriously though, this guy is good, and the bass is almost always clearly audible, which is great because the basslines really are outstanding. The same can be said about the drumming, which compliments the music very well, while still being pretty interesting and impressive, but with an excellent sense of flow. The vocals are pretty good, but I still don't think Kam should be as cocky as he is. A lot of his vocals are more shouty, thrash style yelling, but his growls are pretty good when he does use them, and his shrieks are sick even though they are used very sparingly.

Unfortunatley, Massacre abandoned all of these new songs after Earache rejected this demo. This was probably Massacre's overall downfall, for after this they re-hired Terry Butler and Bill Andrews, who to me are simply inferior compaed to the guys on this demo, and probably couldn't play anything off of this anyways. Im really surprised though that Earache rejected this, but decided that "From Beyond" was worth releasing, an album half made up of songs the band wrote in 1986! It's not that I don't like some of those songs, but I do prefer the earlier demo versions. However, it seems a true shame that Massacre abandoned thier progeression to play their older tunes, as this recording to me stands as a testament to the greatness Massacre could have achieved had they continued in this style. The disc closes with a live version of "From Beyond" from a couple years later, which to me displays a perfect juxtaposition of the two lineups, and demonstrates the band's descent back into thier primitive ways.