Declaring bias from the start, I regard these guys’ 1991 album “From Beyond” as THE definitive death metal album. With that ingrained in me in my formative youth, even over all the glut of other genre gems we were blessed with at the time, it would be easy to say this new release doesn’t (and probably couldn’t) compete or compare.
Some fellow old schoolers were of the opinion “No Kam Lee – No Massacre” as the original and legendary vocalist has been replaced, but having seen lots of recent satisfying reunions of versions of classic extreme bands I was not so pre-judgemental. My initial listenings to promo tracks seemed to confirm that it was not going to knock the debut off its pedestal but then, in seeing them live at Kin Hell Fest in Leeds, where the new and old seamlessly blended it didn’t matter at all.
I’d already purchased the neon-orange vinyl from the fair (-ly massive) hand of Mr Terry Butler himself and there is no denying they have captured some of the dark magic that made their previous stuff so great. Hitting the spot is the core ingredient of the relentless galloping double-picked riffs and double-bass drums, either with a bit of robust bounce to them or foot to the floor death-thrashing.
Interspersed with huge doomy breakdowns, with drawn out chords and shrill lead atmospherics over the top, the vocals have a clarity even if they are monstrously heavy and succeed in creating some memorable hooks to choruses like the classics. Respect to them for having a song “Honour The Fallen” obviously dedicated to the recently departed Jeff Hanneman from Slayer that acknowledges their own influences drawn into this too.
There’s no technical excess here, it is straight up solid death metal playing to their strengths that doesn’t need to evolve massively when it was so good the first time around. Formulaic only if you regard Obituary or Bolt Thrower the same, personally I love it and always will: Welcome back!