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We will bury you - 95%

tomcat_ha, September 24th, 2014

I have been a long time fan of this band. Massacra were one of the first extreme metal bands I ever got into and to this very day I consider them one of the very best.. They are kind of obscure sadly these days and I think this is wholly undeserved. In my eyes they released 3 of the very best death/thrash albums of all time. The album im reviewing here for you was the last death/thrash album they made and also my personal favorite Massacra album. The albums after this head into groove metal territory and I have to admit that I never gave those album a proper chance. The albums they made before Signs of the Decline had top notch songwriting and killer riffs but the sound of the album itself was nothing more than decent. Signs of Decline solved that issue and delivered an excellent complete package.

While this album might be the most death metal album Massacra made it is definitely not a major departure from the 2 albums they made before this one.

What we've got here is basically German thrash metal on overdrive mixed with primordial death metal. There are some passages that are similar to the chunky death/thrash grooving Pestilence had done on their first 2 albums. There are blistering thrash parts which can be described as way more dangerous sounding Kreator. This album also is quite similar to the material Merciless produced around the same period, except this album is a step or 2 more unhinged and reckless. Unhinged and reckless is a bad thing right? No, it is in my eyes an absolute positive trait for raging death/thrash like this. This album is a perfect example of how great a riff salad can be.

The riffing is not the only positive aspect. The drums pound and smash. At times it seems like you are listening to a drum kit getting violently demolished. Frederick Duval (RIP) delivers vocals which are quite typical for the initial wave for death metal style wise. However a crucial addendum he was also one of the best vocalists of this era. He is a bit more guttural and more clearly understandable than most of his peers. Partly due to his French accent his vocals are quite recognizable.

The main reason why I think this is the best Massacra album is that this is their best sounding album. The guitars have a superb tone. The drums sound punchy and angry, the vocals are at the right place mix wise. The bass provides the low end and creates very much a full sound.

Signs of the Decline is basically an essential classic. Literally everything on this album is absolutely top notch. Completely Khrushchevian in terms of throwing riffs at you. Get this album in some way if you haven't done so yet and join me in mourning that we will most likely never see this band live...

Kinda poorly constructed - 68%

UltraBoris, June 3rd, 2004

This album is a frustrating listen, because it's really about one small set of edits away from being a brilliant work of death-thrash. Unfortunately, it seems that while they came up with a lot of awesome riffs, they just couldn't put it together competently. If they had, they would have had something similar to Messiah's "Choir of Horrors", but instead the thing comes out somewhat sloppy.

There are fast death-metal sections, and slower thrash sections. The two are kinda thrown together in a mishmash fashion, and unfortunately not in that good Torture Squad "let's vary up where the brutality comes from" style. Just when they're about to go into a nifty thrash groove, they throw in a blasting section that ruins it all... and when they've got some fast stuff going, instead of varying it up, a la Pleasure to Kill, they randomly throw in another thrash riff. Now there's nothing wrong with going for an 80% thrash riff, but it just seems like they alternate between the two far too often. Also, at times the riff transitions are simply fades - very abrupt, and it really reinforces the "jigsaw puzzle" feel of the whole thing.

I mentioned Messiah... the vocalist is a dead ringer, and the guitars aren't that far off either. But the overall composition - it sounds like Messiah in a blender. It just comes off as awkward - I think what it's really missing is a few long Sodom-like thrash passages, or alternately some faster death metal stuff to sound like a less obscenely heavy Suffocation. It's like they can't decide what they're playing. Either would work. Both do not. I would prefer thrash, of course, but if they focused only on the death metal, they'd get something really wicked that way too.

Oh yeah, one more thing. That poem (end of track 3) sucks. That is all.