Sunday, November 15, 2009

What happened to MASSACRE?


Answer: We did release the follow-up, 1994's album was entitled 'Promise' (see pic). Massacre was indeed one of the top USA death metal bands.When Florida Death metal was at the early demo tape stage, MASSACRE's demo was as popular as DEATH and MORBID ANGEL demo's, but they suffered from line-up problems,and bad luck, as DEATH would later get signed and recruit 3/4 of their members for their second album.

Kam Lee and Rick Rozz were 2/3rds of the original and groundbreaking DEATH, led by Chuck Schuldiner. Kam was on drums and sang, he even drew the famous Death logo- the original with the spiders web etc I mean. Massacre formed after Chuck threw Kam and Rick out of Death, but by an ironic twist Massacre folded a few years later as 3/4 of the band- Rick Rozz, Bill Andrews and Terry Butler- were re-recruited in 1988 by Chuck Schuldiner to play with him on the DEATH album Leprosy.You have to realise that all the local Florida bands had fluid line ups, nothing seemed solid because only DEATH had a record deal at that 87-88 point in time, the eyes of the global death metal hordes were not yet on Florida so musicans would rotate regularly, nothing much was a stake.

Ex- growler Kam Lee spent a few years in the wilderness as the Death Metal scene he helped create blew up almost overnight.It must have bugged him that he was ignored while his ex-band mates and even ex-fans (who had gone on to form bands like Obituary, Deicide) were touring and playing Death metal and getting signed. Kam became the forgotten man of early DM.

Earache is the reason that Massacre even got together to record, it was only through my perseverance and persistance that 'From Beyond' even got recorded and released. When I approached them to sign them up to record the album of the demo tape faves that history compelled them to make -and if there was any justice, really should have been recorded years beforehand -I soon found out the reason why it had never been done up til then.

The ex- members of Massacre were pretty dysfunctional to be honest.They had become estranged from each other, and to make matters worse,mainman and singer Kam had moved far away from Tampa, living a sort of nomadic life in the north of the state.

Even though he was only about 100 miles away from Tampa, still residing in Florida, this was before email or cellphones existed, so he was effectively out of the DM loop.Kam drifted in and out of the scene for many years,I think he had other options in life -jobs, relationships- so he himself chose when and how to resume his DM scene activities.He still does this - every few years Kam will announce he is coming back into the scene with a new band, whenever it suits him, which is his prerogative of course.He is a legend so he can do what he likes. Kam is the one who invented the death-growl, Napalm Death's Barney Greenway simply copied Kam's vocal style.

In 1990 Earache provided the means for Massacre to record their debut- producer Colin Richardson flew to Tampa to record them in Morrisound studios,and after a lot of headaches, the album From Beyond finally saw the light of day in July 1991, about 3 years after it should have been released.It was not an easy recording session as the band was in total disarray, I even resorted to bribery and all sorts of tactics to persuade Rick and Kam to get in and do it.On the flipside Bill and Terry acted like seasoned professionals and were a dream to work with.

On its release it sold OK but nothing like the other DM Florida bands who had stolen Massacre's thunder in the intervening years. To be frank, From Beyond was seen as a historical artefact even on release- zillions of other bands all over the world had already taken the Death metal prototype and many were well on the way to forging lucrative careers by 1991.Massacre folded again soon after a UK/EU tour to promote From Beyond,proving it was a seriously fragile band once again.

After a few more years in the wilderness,in 1994 Massacre recorded the follow up album - entitled Promise. Promise was pretty shocking as the band decided to ditch the DM style and embrace a more Pantera-esque heavy groove metal style but with a horror-ghoul theme as this was the metal style that was getting popular at the time.Its not a bad album,but its not what the Massacre fans were expecting, so they shunned it completely.

Massacre folded once again after that,Kam sang on Promise but soon bolted from the scene again. Rick recuited a replacement singer and tried to carry on but the band was in terminal decline and they soon split up once more- seemingly for the final time.

It just occurred to me that Massacre's story is totally similar to Repulsions history.Repulsion (as Genocide) were playing speedy death metal up in Flint, Michigan making a demo which subsequently became popular with the grindcore freaks, but at the the time garnered little interest outside their local area.Death mainman Chuck Schuldiner saw their potential for his band though, and after kicking out Kam and Rick, promptly invited Genocide's Scott Carlson and Matt Olivo to Florida to join him in DEATH.This line up did not last long,and never recorded, so Scott and Matt returned to Michigan, re-naming their band REPULSION.The similarity is that both bands were pretty much derailed for a year or two, by Chuck recruiting their key members.

The further similarity is that Earache resurrected and finally released (via Bill and Jeff Carcass' short lived NECROSIS imprint) REPULSION's debut album about 3 years after it was recorded and due for release by local label Wyatt Earp records.This was I believe the bands own label, financed by a local friend, but the album had been shelved due to lack of finances.

The resulting album - 1989's Horrified was, much like Massacre, received as an historical artefact by fans, and got a lukewarm reception.Old(er) bands are seen as being different to active, current, gigging bands, shops deemed it to be back catalogue, on its release.

Horrified cemented the bands place in the grindcore/death metal history books which would hit the bookshelves about 2 decades later, and that was pretty much our sole aim in releasing it.Relapse later picked up the re-united band for a 7inch, and redid the Horrified album aswell with demos added.

Looking back through the prism of history, its obvious that both Massacre and Repulsion's widely circulated demo tapes were instrumental in influencing the style of the coming grindcore/death metal wave of bands which flooded the global scene a few years later.Earache as a label owes them a great debt of gratitude-so, cheers to them!

Heres Massacre in 1991 during UK tour playing song: Biohazard

Heres the rather unfortunate look they adopted to promote 1994's Promise- Rick is to the right of pic.It seems even Death Metal legends can have a bad wardrobe day.

Bringing us up to date, heres Rick Rozz's new band M INC with song Bonedust (2009)

BoneDust by digearache


Joaquim said...

Completely agree that PROMISE is not a bad album. I bought it as it came out, I was on vacation in Spain, in some Barcelona shop, and immediately liked it. Maybe fans wanted more straightforward typical death metal filled with clichés etc.

This was the mid 90s and metal was going downhill, it seemed silly and juvenile to like "proper" metal, which nowadays is seen as hipster and ironic, cool, etc (that's why revival bands are so well accepted, they have the whole revival flavor of the 80s added to them, nobody feels ashamed of singing about wizards, dragons etc or wearing a Twisted Sister shirt anymore). In the mid 90s and till the early 2000s bands were actually ashamed of being metal.

I remember Nicke Andersson, at the time of "To Ride", saying "I don't think Entombed is a metal band, it's a punk band, or a rock band" trying to hide forever his metal past and obviously setting himself behind this kind of "I am AC DC" phrase, which is terribly insecure, but I suppose that since at the time he was finding success and a new circle of fans and musicians with another - well, 70s metal/punk revival band, the Hellacopters - he also felt the prejudice from the outside sources even more strongly.

It could be really embarassing to like extreme metal, or any straighforward metal, in 1997, when Korn, with lyrics about child abuse and a very modern look and approach (sports clothes, dreadlocks), were all the rage.

No books about the "influence of extreme music" in John Zorn had been published and basically death metal was seen as the music of mindless maladjusted, aggresive freaks and idiots (which, I suppose, it is to a degree...), overall the impact of the "classic" albuns and the whole musical output this scene had created was not duly appreciated by ANY kind of "serious" criticism or established press, there simply had not been enough time for cultural history do absorb this music and understand it socially, culturally, MUSICALLY, etc, despite the surprisingly strong start in the UK, with John Peel, NME etc embracing the whole thing for a couple of years.

Joaquim said...

The UK media, by the way, seems particularly open to new and challenging art. Having Napalm Death playing on the BBC for millions of viewers is just mind blowing and open minded. That would probably never happen in the United States with something that new, aggressive, confronting and challenging.

When that very localized media attention vanished all that was left were bands called "Anal Blast" and "Cadaver" which inspired laughs and contempt from "serious" music types. Rob Halford went to TV and said "Heavy Metal is dead" and that was it. For a good few years there, mainly after grunge, it was hard being into "metal" without sounding like you were a total idiot into music that spoke of dragons or you just were trying to shock people in the most infantile ways.

Justin Broadrick said in interviews "We are not heavy metal, we ABUSED heavy metal" to try and distance himself from his brutal roots (even though he came from a much more punk background, thrash metal is definitely one of his influences) and to make it sound as he was "perverting" this genre which had very little to do with his music. Nowadays he describes his band Jesu, possibly much less metal than Godflesh (while still yes, heavy) as "Metal/Shoegaze" with no problems.

Carcass became "Rot and roll", Entombed did the same, even before, Napalm Death added industrial patterns and groove to their sound (Diatribes), Fear Factory abandoned it's death metal roots, Sepultura added nu-metal influences to its sound and Massacre released "Promise". These bands were reacting to the strong backlash heavy music was getting and were trying to experiment and fit in, with various degrees of success.

It's impressive on how a few years later all that which was embarrassing became sort of classic "camp" and was accepted, finally coagulating in the thrash metal revival movement spearheaded by Earache. I do think the movement will last for a long time, reproducing the same thrash that was done 25 years ago with no major creative change or input, with bands trying to re-enact the 80s and reaching out for the nostalgia of that period, much like rockabilly exists to this day also in revivals scenes and labels.

Also, it's interesting to note that historically Earache will perhaps go down for it's most risky and least commercially viable stuff (early Napalm Death, early death metal, Godlfesh, Naked City, OLD) which are now seen as influential and creators of the new "serious" metal genres (post-rock, the whole Isis/Hydrahead scene)

At the time of their release the label was much smaller, the recording industry was much different and releasing such music was much more doable. Nowadays, as Dig has pointed in a recent post, a big label like Earache has got to think ten times before investing in a band.

Going back to Massacre, I wonder where Rick Rozz is. Anyone knows anything?

Poney said...

really great text, friends.
I had never really understand all these changes between Massacre and Death. Now it seems much more clear.

cheers from Brazil.

Joaquim said...

Poney from VIOLATOR! Good to see you here man! Wish we could meet offline more frequently!

Poney said...

Tamo aí, juntos de um jeito ou outro JJ. =)

Darkness Descends said...

It should be noted that Kam didn't like any of the shit that was going on during the Promise era. He hates "groove metal" and bands like Pantera. He left the band because he hated the direction they were going into and the "corperate" aspect that he felt corrupted the underground death metal scene. As well as the backstabbing, shit talking, and ego's of fellow musicans. So he moved to Arizona and came back to Florida in 1998 and re-entered the metal scene. This doesn't mean he ever turned his back on Metal though. However around that time, all of the bands he had started never really recorded anything and ended disbanding, due to problems with other band members. He was out of a band for awhile but still kept up with Metal, as he always has, and came back around 2005/2006 with Shadows With Knives which set the stage for Denial Fiend. Massacre was even ressurcted as a touring band in 2007. The final show was at Wacken 2008. There were eventually plans to do a new Massacre album and EP with a new line up (but with Kam still on vocals) but former members fucked it all up. Which is sad because it seemed promising.

He became involed with many other projects but due to some falling out with certain people, it didn't last. He also officially left Denial Fiend in early 2009.

He has found a band that he's happy with now, they are called Bone Gnawer and they play Swedish styled death metal. Meaning bands like Dismember, Grave, Entombed, etc. NOT Gothenburg sounding shit.
He's also in another band called The Grotesquery which will release a debut album next year.

On a personal note, BG's "Feast of Flesh" album is my pick for album of the year. and The Grotesquery are fucking awesome!

People tend to get the wrong idea about Kam. Some say he's hard to work with but this just isn't so. He is the most down to earth veteran musican I ever met. He just hates people with big ego's and that's the kind of people he ran into throughout most of his career. but now he's finally found the right musicans to work with so true death metal fans can expect to see more great music coming from him for many years to come.