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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.