The following "Metal Massacre" compilations played a large part in the early history of heavy metal. Back in 1981 Brian Slagel decided to put together a compilation of various unsigned, underground metal bands. The resulting Metal Massacre series became the cornerstone of Metal Blade Records, one of the few American metal indie labels that still exists today. This is where Slayer, Overkill, Sacred Reich, Armored Saint, Lizzy Borden, Fates Warning, Metal Church and even Metallica among many others got their start. Since there are so many of these I decided they needed to be on their own page apart from the rest of my compilations collection.
1. "Chains Around
Heaven" -Black 'N' Blue (3:45)
Metal Massacre was the debut for Metal Blade Records, as well as for quite a few bands who went on to record albums for Metal Blade. Pandemonium, Malice, Bitch, and Cirith Ungol all released several albums after this compilation. Black 'n' Blue became a pet project for Kiss' Gene Simmons.and signed a major label deal. Black 'n' Blue guitarist Tommy Thayer eventually went on to join Kiss.
Metallica went on to superstardom becoming one of the biggest selling heavy metal bands ever. "Metal Massacre" was their humble beginnings, and what humble beginnings it was. The sound quality of this track is simply awful. Contrary to popular opinion, Dave Mustaine did not play on this track, at least not on the version on the original pressing.
Metal Massacre 2 (Metal Blade) 1982
1. "Lesson Well Learned"
-Armored Saint (2:51)
Well, it's got Armored Saint's first recording and only Trauma song that Burton recorded before getting picked up by Metallica. "Massacre 2" also has a alternate version of Warlord's "Lucifer's Hammer," a band many consider to be a classic. They definitely have a unique, doomy sound with pouding drums. Of course Warlord features drummer Mark Zonder, who went on to fame with Fates Warning. Obsession and Savage Grace are two other bands that I am familiar with. (I saw Savage Grace at the Penny Archade in Rochester, NY in the 80's.) The rest of the bands are pretty much unknown to me but overall this is a good listen all the way through. The Overkill on this compilation is NOT the same Overkill that we all know and love today, although they too will show up on Metal Massacre V.
Metal Massacre III (Metal Blade) 1983
1. "Aggressive Perfector"
This has got to be one of the worst "Metal Massacre" discs. About half of this CD sounds like garage band fodder. The best song is probably the Slayer song, which is youthful speed metal energy. The Bitch, Warlord, Virgin Steele and Tyrant songs are quite good as well, all of the traditional metal variety. All these bands went on to record full length albums. This has got to be the most generic cover of all the Metal Massacre discs as well. Well, I guess for $2.99 (new and still sealed) I can't complain to much.
Metal Massacre IV (Metal Blade) 1983
1. "The Alien"
-Sacred Blade (3:39)
One of the more consistent Metal Massacre discs, although with the exception of Trouble, none of these bands went on to any great success. Trouble's "The Last Judgement" is a slow doom-metal number that was never re-recorded for any official Trouble album. This, of course, makes the Trouble song alone reason enough for me to own this disc. However, there are several other decent tracks as well. You can really see the beginnings of speed metal and thrash on this disc with bands like Zoetrope, War Cry and especially Abattoir. Abattoir, as featured on this CD, featured the vocals of John Cyriis and guitarist Juan Garcia who went on to form Agent Steel. Lizzy Borden, of course, became the Metal Blade house band and is still with Metal Blade two decades later. Oh, and you have to love the special thanks, "Extra special spiked leather thanks to all you over the top hardcore headbangers and terminal metalheads!"
Metal Massacre V (Metal Blade) 1984
1. "Torture Me"
Now this was humble beginnings for some of the more popular metal bands of the 80's. A couple of these bands, including Overkill and especially Metal Church, signed major label deals and went on to become quite popular. Both songs by these bands have not seen re-release on any of their full lenght albums, as far as I know. The Metal Church track was also released on at least two other albums, 'The Best of Metal Blade, Volume 1' and more importantly the soundtrack to 'The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years'. Another artist that gained quite a bit of popularity but remains signed to Metal Blade to this day is Fates Warning. Few bands have had an effect on the modern progressive metal movement like Fates Warning. Their contribution to this album was re-recorded for their first album "Night on Brocken." It is actually the best song on that disc (see my Fates Warning page for a full review of that disc.) Another highly influencial band has it's humble beginnings on this disc; Hellhammer. (Who later became Celtic Frost, of course.) Voivod's thrashy, gutteral contribution to this cd is interesting. One band who I am not familiar with other than this compilaiton is Jesters of Destiny who turn in a song that compares with all the other bands on this disc. Overall, probably the most solid of all the Metal Massacre discs from beginning to end.
Metal Massacre VI (Metal Blade) 1985
1. "Swing of the Axe"
Thrash was the king of the day at this point in time in metal's history, as can be cleary seen by the amount of thrash bands on "Metal Massacre 6". Possessed, while having awful lyrics, were one of the better bands musically. Many credit them with being the first death metal band. Nasty Savage, of course, tear it loose with "XXX", a song that also appears on their album "Indulgence," although this version is different than the album version. Hades are one of the few that aren't of the thrash variety, but in my opinion, give us one of the best songs on this disc. Hallows Eve, Hirax, and Dark Angel also turn in some speed laden, metal mayhem. Hirax have a very unique sound, thanks mostly to vocalist Katon DePena. "Welcome to the Slaughterhouse" is the most Slayer-like of all the bands here. If I am not mistaken, this is the same verions of "Welcome to the Slaughterhouse" that appeared on "We Have Arrived." The Obssessed also stear clear of the thrash genre, offering up some melodic, heavy doooooom! Excellent, haunting vocals from Scott "Wino" Weinrich. Overall, this is one of the better Metal Massacre releases and probably the one I revisit the most over the years.
Metal Massacre VII (Metal Blade) 1986
Of all the Metal Massacre CDs this is probably the most solid from beginning to end. Metal Massacre 7 starts with a smokin' track from pre-Mike Howe Heretic. This song shows a whole lot of promise. To bad that Metal Blade hasn't seen it fit yet to re-release Heretic's catalog. Their one full length album and EP are both considered classics and both are out-or-print and in high demand on auction sites. Next up is the equally impressive Sentinel Beast with a self-titled speed metal track. Flotsam & Jetsam offer up an early demo version of "I Live, You Die" featuring Jason Newsted on bass. This track was later re-recorded for their "No Place for Disgrace" CD. Krank is a band I have always liked. Saw this band at some dive in Rochester, NY in the late 80's while I was in college."Rented Heat" will stick to your brain for hours after hearing it. Cryptic Slaughter have become underground cult favorite. "Reich of Torture" is a hardcore injected thrash number. Have Mercy's "The Omen" is yet another speed metal number. Not sure if this song was recorded for this compilation or if it was off a demo. It does not appear on the Combat Boot compilation that Have Mercy also appear on. There are a few slightly weaker spots on this CD, but overall, a solid disc. Glad to finally have it in my collection. (thanks Trogdawn.)
Metal Masacre 8 & 9 (Metal Blade) 1987/1988
-Sacred Reich (3:50)
Not a bad compilation, but not my favorite either. Sacred Reich, Toxik and Faith or Fear are the best bands on here. Only Sacred Reich did anything noteworthy outside of this compilation, although Faith or Fear, and Toxik all released albums that were good, although didn't make a big splash commercially. (As if that matters!). There are a few other above average songs, like thrasher"Hellbound" from Viking, but overall this is only an average Metal Massacre compilation. I think I will stick with Metal Massacre 5, as it is the best of the bunch.
Metal Massacre Vol. XII (Metal Blade) 1995
1. Paingod -Paingod (4:02)
I bought this CD for $1.99 on-line, by mistake. I would have swore it was VII, not XII. However, when this disc arrived in the mail, I was a bit disappointed and realized I had made the mistake. Stupid roman numerals! So, what of the music? This CD is 100% pure crap! I use to enjoy the Metal Massacre CDs as they were a good way to discover new metal bands, usually of pretty diverse styles, but this disc just shows how far metal has gone down the toilet. Almost all of these bands, save for Divine Regale, need to invest some time in searching for a decent vocalist. Several of these bands sound like Pantera wannabes and several others aren't even metal. With the exception of the black metal of Ancient, and the prog sounds ofDivine Regale, I found nothing redeeming about this disc. Unfortunately the Divine Regale song has a terrible mix with a poppy, loud snare drum. Otherwise, this was the best song on the CD. Vol. XII is absolutely the worst Metal Massacre CD thus far.
in Barbed Wire" -Cannibal Corpse (3:09)
I know that this isn't a Metal Massacre release, but it is a compilation of metal bands put together by Metal Blade Records, so I think it fits on this page quite well. Rather than being a compilation to introduce new, unheard of bands like the Metal Massacre CDs, "Metalmeister" is a compilation of mostly established Metal Blade artists. The first six tracks on this disc are all quite good and I enjoyed the variety of styles between the bands. Cannibal Corspe are an outstanding death metal band. Galactic Cowboys are one of my all time favorite bands and "Psychotic Companion" is just a super progressive rocker. Sacred Reich and Mercyful Fate are both classic bands, and while the albums these songs are from are not rated amongst their best, these songs are still quite good. GWAR are just funny. I am not a big fan, but I liked "Meat Sandwich." Six Feet Under are one of the most hated of death metal bands in the underground, as far as I can see. However, I like them and I like this song! Simplistic, bang yer head metal riffs with a death metal vocalist. It's almost like AC/DC gone death metal. After this song, however, the disc goes downhill quickly. Skrew, Wardog, Crisis are all LAME! Immolation are a joke. I know they are a highly touted death metal band but I think they suck! Boring riffs, crappy guitar tones that come from tuning down far to low and terrible lyrics to boot. United and Armored Saint help to finish the disc off on a strong note, but there is just to much crap in the middle. Not a bad compilation as long as you have the old remote handy to hit skip on a few songs. Eventually I will need to make a CDR compilation of the best tracks from these Metal Blade compilations.