MASACRE has been around terrorizing Colombian airwaves since the late 80’s, sticking to their solid Death Metal formula for well over a decade. “Total Death” is this project’s latest outing, featuring grinding rhythm’s, blasting drums and down-tuned thick riffs. When this outfit completely gels and everyone is spot on this album shreds. That, however, is an uncommon occurrence as the majority of the album sits idly by in the realm of generic and mediocre Death Metal. Releases like this are the hardest to grasp as they manage not to completely disappoint, but offer virtually little to nothing new.
The album does start off rather strong with an interesting intro featuring the whinny of a horse and the flashing of swords. “Slaves Of Death” features some monotonous drumming (which happens to plague the entire release) and uninteresting vocals but the guitars manage to pull this one to the fore and split some skulls. The riffs are here and they are goddamn bloodthirsty. The leads are fierce throughout the entire recording as well; give “Kill Or Get Killed” a listen to see first-hand. The guitar-work does tire during several lulls in which they are content to intermingle with the constant double bass and not grab you by your scalp. A Metal album which does not grab you by your scalp is simply holding your hand…what the hell is that?
This album rubs me the wrong way constantly. It seems to revel in the fact that nearly every track starts with some over-the-top and unrelenting riff or interesting drum pattern only to dive head first into a blasting section. I do not like to be teased in this way and this makes for build-up without any identifiable conclusion and is ripping off the formula OPETH have mastered. “Wrath Intense Pain” is perhaps the best example as that stop-start riff is pretty damn wicked in the beginning. This one slowly fades out over the first minute before diving into a bloodthirsty drummer attacking his snare at .
The vocals found on the release do gel with the music but I cannot help but be left wanting more. They immediately remind me of Glen Benton and I am not so convinced this is a good thing. That spark of identity and uniqueness is essential to crafting a perfect album and anything less merely detracts from the whole (or at least certainly does not add to it). There are a couple of interesting Black Metal styled shrieks but they are very few and far between.
I was not immediately surprised to discover that Erik Rutan did the mastering job on “Total Death”. Rutan’s project, HATE ETERNAL, boasts a similar sound which borders on Grindcore at times and possesses a similar sense of trading solid riffs and interesting compositions for brutality. If you enjoy this style good for you, but I find the buried guitar-work to be rather annoying as riffs do not belong in the background. Crank those goddamn guitars to 11 and lay the blast-beats and constant double-bass underneath if you have to, but do not bury the guitars like they are a bassist.
If you are a fan of that unrelenting brutal and driven Death Metal in the vein of HATE ETERNAL then “Total Death” is your cup of tea. Constant double-bass and a wall of sound are the entrée and it does prove interesting…for at least a while. I found this release to be somewhat average, although possessing a handful of interesting solos and enough unique riffs to push it up a notch and make it worthwhile. (Online October 7, 2005)