As any death metal diehard will tell you, Massacre were one of the most important bands to emerge from the genre’s late 80s heyday, and their 1991 debut From Beyond remains a seldom disputed classic. As a result, Back From Beyond – the true follow-up to its titular predecessor, 1996’s cack-handed Promise being best forgotten – arrives burdened by immense expectation.
Thankfully, despite the absence of original vocalist Kam Lee, this is both a triumphant reaffirmation of the band’s old-school values and a smart reminder that death metal’s formula requires no tinkering when handled by experts. Devastatingly heavy and sonically pristine, pulverising anti-hymns like Ascension Of The Deceased and Remnants Of Hatred have infectious, carnivorous riffs bursting from every scabbed pore, while singer Ed Webb steps ably into Kam’s shoes, delivering a powerhouse vocal performance that puts most of the modern scene’s unintelligible garglers to shame.
Neither stuck in the past nor needlessly enamoured of high-tech sterility, this is the sound of a great band tapping back into their own potent, untamed essence and skillfully extending a hallowed legacy.