Massacra

Final Holocaust

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The birth of death metal towards the close of the 1980s hit the extreme metal scene (heretofore essentially defined by thrash) like an atom bomb, and the release of Sepultura's transitional thrash/death masterpiece, Schizophrenia, and its increasingly 'deathly' 1989 follow-up, Beneath the Remains, in particular, effectively codified the new genre's ultimate template for hundreds of bands across the globe to pursue over the next few years. Among them stood France's Massacra, who themselves had evolved from traditional thrash beginnings circa 1986 until finding their true calling in death metal four years later via the release of their first LP, Final Holocaust. Ironically, consumers who purchased said album were subjected to a brief and needless to say surprising classical music snippet before first cut, "Apocalyptic Warriors," introduced the group's outlandishly fast and violent brand of sonic Armageddon; a veritable onslaught reprised by most of the subsequent songs, even though many of these also basked in a variety of tempos driven by a seemingly never ending barrage of riffs. But then, this was precisely what delineated death metal's magical musical contradiction: its astonishing high level of musicianship and technique that was then pitilessly roughed up by the sheer savagery of the musicians' attack, and corrosive nature of those groundbreaking Cookie Monster growls -- a key element in the movement's quick global expansion because they were so forgiving of foreign accents intoning English lyrics. But we digress…in Massacra's case, lack of experience was arguably the only thing separating the group from established major leaguers like Sepultura or Death (both of which only hit their stride after several albums, mind you), because top-line ditties like "Nearer to Death," "Eternal Hate" and "Trained to Kill" were, at once, monuments of complexity and blueprints of immediacy; invariably brimming with memorable riff-sequences and manic but hooky melodies. And although it also failed to deliver any truly immortal entries into the death metal canon, Final Holocaust arguably falls just short of its immediate successor, Enjoy the Violence, as Massacra's finest hour.