The affectionately remembered, if not universally revered, Massacre returns in 2014 with a comeback album almost twenty years in the making. I admit I never listened to these guys back in the '90's, but I've been giving them a lot of attention leading up to this new release. Their debut, “From Beyond,” is a bit of a historic stand-alone, the one death metal album that the band formerly known as 4/5 of Death put out after Chuck shuffled his line-up following“Leprosy,” and again after “Spiritual Healing.” Rick Rozz, Terry Butler, Kam Lee, and Bill Andrews did this album, then a pretty good EP a year later called “Inhuman Condition,” then (as I've recently learned) recorded one of the most hated metal albums ever, 1996's “Promise.” It seems that people absolutely despise that album, which really isn't very good.
Finally, Rick Rozz and Terry Butler have decided to, at the very least, replace “Promise” as the lasting legacy of Massacre. “Back From Beyond” finds them thrashing it out like it was 1991 all over again, playing a powerful blend of old-school Florida death metal and thrash. Fans of “From Beyond” will be disappointed not to hear Kam Lee's vocals, but his replacement, Ed Webb, is an acceptable death metal vocalist, with a mixture of highs, lows, screeches, and growls. The drums and bass are meaty, the guitar tone is thick, and it's basically an average to above-average standard death metal album. It doesn't quite reach the level of today's best in the genre like Cannibal Corpse, Hail of Bullets, or Deicide, but it's on par with Malevolent Creation, and surely better than Morbid Angel's recent techno-death outing. Even if not a masterpiece, it will leave Massacre fans with a much better taste in their mouths than “Promise.”