Review: Massacre “From Beyond” [Earache Records]

Review: Massacre “From Beyond” [Earache Records]

- in Reviews
Rating 69%
Seminal brutal death forerunners
69 %
User Rating : 4.4 (2 votes)

Massacre prove brutal death metal was an achievable sound way back in 1991, albeit brutal death in its archaic form with no blast beats and drums still very much in the thrash tradition. Not that they were the only band that heralded the advent of brutal death, but the style here is particularly cynical, carnivorous death metal for such an early year at the very start of the decade.

Those grin-provoking riffs constantly dish out a distinct viciousness, like thrash taken to the extreme. The production is thick and feels narrow, almost like the music stifles the listener. The guitars are chubby and brutish, packing mean intensity, the palm muted chugs loaded with hi-gain energy which it feels like there’s an abundance of. The monstrous vocals are abrupt bursts of rapid rhythmic vitriol, exclamatory gurgles, with intermittent high-pitched screams of a rare vehemence for the time. Interesting variations with stereo vocals panned hard left and right make an appearance.

Where many fellow Floridian Tampa Bay bands of that period focused on technicality, the music here is deliberately simple as to emphasize the archaic butchery that the album fosters. The songs consist mainly of frantic power chord outbursts, ferocious tremolo picking or doomier more ambient dirges of the darker sort. The middle part on the title-track ‘From Beyond’ straight up brings to mind Candlemass with the octave chords backed by the synth choirs, blending in that distinct-sounding obscure reverence. Feral solos seize the tracks instilling a sense of panic and an untamed rampant energy in typical death metal tradition, with a particular emphasis on squealing vibrato whammy action.

As is customary for bands in the genre during those early years, the album contains an orchestral section (‘Chamber Of Ages’) made up of the usual instrumentation of choirs, cinematic strings and heavy percussion. Its subtly dark and epic atmosphere adds a bit of luster to an album that is for the most part quite straightforward with what it’s about.

Whether or not this album is as influential as its fans claim is probably irrelevant. The Floridian scene as a whole forged, nearly single-handedly, what is currently taken for death metal canon today as the hard foundations for the genre. What’s certain here is this style wasn’t common currency at the time and the band had a clear vision of what death metal would be as this ticks most boxes of what constitutes outright, full-on death metal by contemporary established standards. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and it certainly restricts itself to one definite sound, but one just can’t overlook how ahead of its time it is and the sort of quaint charm it possesses. Extreme metal albums would never again have this raw, rudimentary personality to them and such records should be cherished for that. This is one of the albums death-metallers will fondly recall as having played a role in the genre breaking away from thrash and claiming its own identity.

Release date: July 1st, 1991

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