It's May Day in England and there is no better way to celebrate than to watch reactivated Floridian death metal titans Massacre storm the capital. Currently enjoying their fifth shot at reuniting, these old school death metallers have accumulated quite a few years since their last London appearance, creating strong demand from the classic death metal faithful to ram into the small Barfly in Camden Town.
Birmingham-based Cerebral Fix have the pleasure of supporting, serving up a typically English crossover concoction. Originally formed in 1986, these Brummies threw in the towel four albums later by 1993 only to reanimate in 2006. This four-piece produce a musical stew of '80s thrash metal equipped with death metal, hardcore, punk and grind tendencies that evidently references the works of Bolt Thrower, Napalm Death and Obituary. The audience appears somewhat intrigued by the band but shamefully not entirely engaged as frontman Simon Forrest's pleas for the spectators to move closer to the stage fall on death ears. Nonetheless, a formidable stage presence and a pummelling setlist confirm that Cerebral Fix still retain an indomitable sound that is absent in modern extreme music bands.
All the way from Canada, Untimely Demise have the privilege of advertising their music to an audience entirely unfamiliar with them. These youngsters formed in 2007 and have already secured respect by getting thrash metal artist Ed Repka to design the album art for last year's 'Systematic Eradication' album while ex-Megadeth guitarist Glen Drover produced it. However, although it is undeniable that Megadeth are a key influence for these Canadians, this band is far from a clone; their thrash metal is modernised with melodic death metal. Guitar solos and creative guitar riffs pepper the songs while vocals alternate between archetypal thrash metal shouts and thin death metal rasps. Headbanging is the order of the day in regard to stage presence, which encourages similar activity in the crowd. In addition to these headbangers, a reasonably sized mosh pit even erupts during the set, demonstrating that Untimely Demise's set is applauded given their relative obscurity on these shores.
Instrumental opener 'The Ancient Ones' riles the audiences' blood before Massacre burst into the frenzied 'As We Wait to Die' from new album 'Far From Beyond'. Movement in the audience reaches levels far beyond those that were reached at any other point tonight. Their churning old school death metal works sublimely in such an intimate venue. Vocalist Edwin Webb has been involved with Massacre since this reunion in 2011 and does a solid job replicating original vocalist Kam Lee's growls.
The setlist is largely halved between the classic 'From Beyond' debut and this year's reunion album 'Far From Beyond'. As the new album title suggests, their latest full-length platter is not a significant departure from their first album and songs such as 'False Revelation' do not harbour the sincerity of the old material such as 'Defeat Remains', 'Succubus' and 'Biohazard'. Needless to report, mosh pits are at their most vicious during these songs. An austere stage presence suits the environment impeccably.
The set sprints past incredibly rapidly and before long, the Americans leave the stage. However, it does not take them long to return for an encore, namely the gnashing 'Corpsegrinder' and a cover of Death's 'Mutilation', seeing as guitarist Rock Rozz was an original member in the Death line up and co-wrote the classic with the legendary Chuck Schuldiner. The fans violently croon along to the chorus with shoving, headbanging and fists pounding the air all in heavy employment. This particularly rabid way to conclude Massacre's performance underscores the bank holiday with a bang.
Massacre's return to London is nothing short of a success as the battered metalheads return to their homes with grins plastered thickly on their faces. The packed venue is testament to Massacre's contribution to death metal and how it has never been forgotten even though they only dedicated one beloved album to the genre in its heyday in the early nineties. Here's hoping these Floridians will return to a roomier venue in London sometime in the not-too-distant future.