Massacre – Resurgence Review

Massacre is a death metal band I’ve always rooted for and got very little in return for my efforts. Though one of the creators of the entire genre,1 they were unable to get their long-delayed From Beyond debut out until 1991. By then they’d been scooped by a ton of acts and demoted from innovators to also-rans. Though their tardy debut was awesome, the band utterly failed to follow up on its potential. 1996s Promise2 was hot, steaming garbage and killed their career deader than disco. Fast forward 18 years and Massacre launched a comeback with Back from Beyond. Though much better than Promise,3 it wasn’t all that interesting or notable. Once again they fell silent and after 7 years they resurface with Resurgence. This release sees original vocalist Kam Lee back in the mix, teamed with none other than Rogga Johansson (every death metal band ever), Jonny Pettersson (Wombbath, Gods Forsaken, Heads for the Dead, ex-Just Before Dawn) and Brynjar Helgetun (Gods Forsaken, Johansson & Speckmann, ex-Just Before Dawn, ex-The Grotesquery). That’s a lot of imported European death muscle to support this rancid Floridian abomination. But is it enough to allow Massacre to finally give From Beyond a proper followup? One can only hope after 30 fookin’ years!

I’m stunned to report that Resurgence is indeed the long-awaited spiritual successor to From Beyond and one helluva fun death metal platter o’ splatter. Packing more Lovecraftian tentacle slappery than a weekend stay with Shuma-Gorath, this is an ugly, crude, and rude trip down death metal’s memory lane, with Kam Lee as your belching, farting tour guide. Powered by the guitar wizardry of Rogga and Jonny P., Kam has the proper foundation upon which to vomit forth a wondrous collection of roars, grunts, YAARS, and monster moans. The slimy coils begin to constrict mere moments into opener “Eldritch Prophecy” and if you’ve had an abusive love affair with From Beyond over these many years, you’ll feel right at home and hungry for an Elder God squeeze. Ugly caveman chugs and thick, battering grooves plow the field and mildly decorative guitar flourishes are thrown over the rotten crops to keep things interesting. This is 100% direct, no BS, old school death and it’s glorious in its infantile idiocy and primacy. “Songs like “Ruins of R’lyeh” and “The Innsmouth Strain” are from the ancient past (think Death‘s Leprosy) but the sheer exuberance of the delivery makes them feel fresh and vital. The discerning listener will hear bloody bits of Cannibal Corpse, Obituary and Asphyx dotting the soundscape, but this is pure Massacre to the last fang and probing tendril.

What makes Resurgence such a happy surprise is how consistently lively and immediate the writing is. Track after track clubs you with nasty riffs, horrid vocals and memorable little moments, and then the album ends unexpectedly, leaving you disoriented but eager for more. Later album cuts like “Fate of the Elder Gods” and “Spawn of the Succubus” pack just as might power and dynamism as the early ones, and things conclude with a sequel to From Beyond‘s timeless classic, “Corpsegrinder” in the form of “Return of the Corpse Grinder.” It holds its own against one of the silliness but coolest death cuts of all time, so hats off to them for that. No song is a wipeout or filler grade, and at 40 minutes with most tracks in that 3-5 minute sweet spot, Resurgence is a lean, mean pit beast ready for pit battle in the pit. No fat, but plenty of primordial ooze and ectoplasmic emissions.

Kam Lee sounds as savage and silly as ever, taking his Tom G. Warrior on bathtub meth style to the next level of extremity. Yes, he veers into cartoony Chris Barnes territories at times, but this is death metal, not fine art, and even on his worst day Kam is a vastly superior vocalist to the Barnster. He’s always had a MOAR is MOOOAAR approach, so Resurgence is weighed down with weird groans, moans, gurgles and roars. The infusion of fresh blood via Rogga, Jonny and Brynjar does wonders for the Massacre ecosystem. The riffs are crushing when needed but do a lot of interesting things in the spaces between Neanderthal grooves. Doomy and creepy environs are explored and Swedeath influences creep in, keeping the songs from bleeding together into a gory paste. Brynjar ties all the insanity together with a thunderous and powerful performance behind the kit, rabid and urgent enough to damage the brain stem.

Following in the wake of the Massacre ex-pat driven Inhuman Condition platter, Resurgence is another big ball of old timey death done by grizzled veterans. It’s the better, more polished product of the two, and the fact Massacre managed such a big return to form is a miracle of modern science fiction. I had no faith this day would ever come, but Massacre is back in the mix and ready to kill. Is this real life? No! It’s real death.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 14 | Format Reviewed: 266 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear Blast
Releases Worldwide: October 22, 2021

Show 3 footnotes

  1. They can be credited with beating Death to the punch for the use of death metal vocals.
  2. Ironic title is ironic.
  3. It kinda had to be as the bar was so very low.
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