Review: Massacre – Resurgence

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Halloween is upon us, and death metal co-originators, Massacre, have arrived just in time with their new album, Resurgence. While I’m generally much more a fan of black metal than death metal, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to review the new work from such a legendary band. So do these old bastards show the younguns how it’s done, or is this the death metal version of a former high school quarterback reliving his glory days? Let’s get to it.

I don’t know what’s been going on with Massacre over the last few years, but Resurgence is an entirely different beast than Back from Beyond. Given that the lineup is completely different, this isn’t surprising. As for the old guard members, we’ve traded out Rick Rozz and Terry Butler for Kam Lee and Mike Borders. In any event, Resurgence has much more of that classic Florida sound.

After a suitably spooky instrumental passage, the album kicks into full swing with “Eldritch Prophecy”. It’s a thrashy and weirdly addictive affair with moments of absolutely killer groove interspersed throughout. Think Death‘s first two albums. Now carry this on for ten songs. That isn’t to say that the songs aren’t distinct. They absolutely are, just don’t expect to be surprised. Resurgence is fairly conventional in its intent and execution, but how are you gonna get mad at someone for not re-inventing the wheel when they invented the wheel in the first place? After hearing so many OSDM worship bands emulate the style to diminishing returns, it’s frankly awesome to hear one of the actual old school groups come back and nail the sound so perfectly.

There’s a captivating blend of proficiency, authenticity, and dare I say, perverse joy at play on Resurgence. One of the strongest points of Massacre’s newest baby is that it remembers how fun death metal can be. There’s a very strong emphasis here on straightforward brutality and horror atmosphere. Despite the directness of the songs, they’re remarkably resilient to getting stale. Lee and friends seem to be terrified of boring the listener. This really is a brilliant piece of Old School Florida death metal whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts, if I may be cliched.

It’s a good thing that the songwriting is so damn nice because tech death this ain’t. If anything, Resurgence really highlights where Death and and Massacre diverged on the evolutionary line. Schuldiner restlessly pushed the boundaries of what death metal could be, while Lee seems to have chosen to perfect the relatively simple attributes of the original sound. There’s nothing particularly flashy here. No individual performance stands out as notably innovative or technical. I’m by no means saying that there’s nothing cool going on. There are several guitar harmonies that fucking slay. I’m also in no way implying that the instruments are played sloppily. It’s just that everything is geared toward making overall enjoyable songs rather than impressing technique snobs. In the hands of less capable musicians, this would be a disaster. Here it works. (Quick side note: Kam Lee’s vocal performance here is stupidly good.)

Unfortunately, Resurgence‘s strengths are also often its weaknesses. Whether or not you enjoy this album is entirely dependent on how much you value novelty and technicality in your death metal. While I never got bored with the album, I can definitely see how is one dimensional nature could grate on many folks nerves. Additionally, while the songs are all new, anyone with even a passing familiarity with the first explosion of Florida death metal has heard everything that Resurgence has to offer here, Massacre is echoing the sounds of the past with a precision not seen since Leprosy and From Beyond.

Finally, no review would be complete without talking production. Well, what do want me to say? It’s very professional and crisp without sounding plastic. It matches the music in a way. Its no frills, no weaknesses approach means that it does its job and makes everything sound right without drawing too much attention to itself. It’s kinda like an updated Scott Burns job.

Meat and Potatoes: This is a very hard album for me to put a score to. If you’re a diehard fan of the first Massacre, Death, and Obituary albums, like I am, you’re probably gonna love this. If you’re more of a fan of more progressive and technical affair like Slugdge and A Novelist (Which I also am, but not exclusively), Resurgence is probably not gonna do it for you. Overall, I’m gonna split the difference and give Resurgence 3.5 Lovecraftian toilets out of 5.

Resurgence comes out 10/22/21 via Nuclear Blast.  Pick it up here.

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