When approaching Resurgence, the new album from death metal vets Massacre, there’s many different ways to take it in: forget history and receive it as part of today’s old school death metal resurgence. Or, you can take it as an extension of the band’s legacy: does it live up or exceed expectations? The former is easier, but not as dramatic. The latter is a challenge. How do you compare it to From Beyond, as an absolute masterpiece that helped shape the genre into what it is today. It forces comparisons to an album that has no comparison.
Either way you slice the skull, Resurgence is a beast from a band that knows all too well how to make great death metal albums.
If you weren’t paying attention for the past 37 years, Massacre has had more stops and starts and member changes than many bands see in their entire careers. That doesn’t even take into account the very early shift to death metal from something else entirely. In the midst of all this, everything clicked in 1991 on From Beyond and solidified their spot in death metal forever, even if they had no idea at the time. Then came Promise in 1996 and Back From Beyond in 2014 that did nothing to further their career nor get fans excited enough to put down From Beyond for a minute and take notice. Fast forward to 2021 and things are looking up: a couple of really good singles and some heartening words from Kam Lee, one of two remaining original members, who emphasized the importance of keeping new material old school and old school only.
Resurgence is exactly that kind of old school death metal: inhuman growls, hulkish riffs, dark and dank, melodic grooves (“The Whisperer In Darkness”), thrashy stomps (“Return of the Corpse Grinder”), a few well placed oughs for good measure (“Into the Far-Off Void”), and they’re still peddling Lovecraft from the lyrics to the visceral imagery that impacts the album as a whole. And why not? It makes for some excellent source material to build a nasty death metal album around. The album feels like a swampy boat excursion through a horrific Lovecraft landscape, slimy twists and turns around every corner. This shouldn’t come as a surprise though; not counting the two original members, Massacre have enlisted some of the genre’s best and brightest talents including Rogga Johansson who has a “see also” membership list longer than most album reviews. Despite the fact the current lineup comes from all corners of death metal, Resurgence is rooted deep in the Floridian sound of yesteryear.
Straight from the band’s mouth, Resurgence is a direct sequel to From Beyond that ignores everything else. The Halloween universe anyone? All kidding aside, the only thing missing is the Morrisound Recording magic touch that made theirs and countless other albums of that time such classics. Not a knock but more of an observation as this was a small stumbling block on initial spins. The title speaks to another concern: Lee has stated in interviews that when Massacre started there were only a handful of bands breaking the mold. Now there are thousands of bands driving the ‘old school’ resurgence, which begs the question of whether this album stands out enough for a newcomer to latch onto and look back on ten, twenty, thirty years from now as a stone cold classic. While it’s too early to tell, there’s many avenues right now someone could travel to get that same old school experience, sound, and energy with a similar spirit. Massacre aren’t interested in breaking any molds; they’re here to remind you what it was like to be a death metal giant back in the day, so take that with a grain of salt.
Resurgence is a great death metal album from a legendary band that honestly ticks all the boxes my ears crave when I need a death metal fix. And I need that a lot, if we’re being honest. It’s damn good to have Massacre back and I hope this won’t be the last time we hear from them. Do they honor their legacy? Yes, and while there are tons of similar sounding bands and the metal waters are infested with like minded artists gunning for that old school sound, Massacre offer a true version with grit and elder experience that’s tough to find and tougher to replicate.