With about a decade of metal consumption under my belt, I don’t think I’ve ever come across an album that sounds exactly the way the cover looks more than this one. National Suicide are a group of thrashers from Italy, formed back in 2005, and Massacre Elite is their third and most recent effort. If it isn’t obvious, they’re obsessed with being as old school looking and sounding as possible, and it’s pretty fair to say that they’ve achieved that. Often times when bands try very hard to be something specific, especially when adding a retro tint to the view, it can be somewhat corny. Thankfully, National Suicide know how to attain the sound that they want while not taking themselves too seriously. The end result? A throwback ridden thrash metal album with a lot of fun hooks, humorous lyrics, and a great combination of face melting energy and silliness.
Regarding the more fun side of this, it’s quite easy to tell where these tactics lie. Tracks like “I’m Not A Zombie (Anymore)” and “Old, White, And Italian” are clearly meant to be fun, mosh-friendly cuts that give the album an aura of humor. They tend to reside more on the simpler side regarding song construction, as the focus is speed; but there are still strong solos present. The latter of the two actually focuses heavily on bass, and spits out one of the strongest rhythms on the whole release. On the flip side, tracks like “Unit For The Army” and the title track reel in some more melody and focus a bit more in delivering solid hooks and elaborate songs. Sound effects are dropped in here and there, and longer solos tie them all together perfectly. The greatest track on here is “Take Me To The Dive Bar,” as it combines all aspects that make Massacre Elite such a thrilling ride. It’s got the intense speed and the lyrics that don’t take themselves seriously, as well as one of the most memorable riffs, and advanced guitar work in general. The way that it weaves licks perfectly into the chorus is absolutely stellar, and I can see why this one got its own lyric video. If this all doesn’t scream ’80s thrash, I don’t know what does.
Something that does make it seem a little more obvious that this isn’t an old record is the fact that the production is super clean and anything but raw. I’m actually glad that it’s spotless in that sense, because that allows the vocals to break through in the sharp manner that they do. They’re pretty damn close to those of Overkill’s very own Bobby Blitz, but a little bit less intimidating, and the range doesn’t seem to be as drastic. Rest assured, they’re still very good, and I wouldn’t expect anyone to be able to perfectly match such a legendary vocalist. Musically, it probably throws a little more ode to the likes of Nuclear Assault in the realm of playing style, especially when taking into consideration the ferocious drum kicks. There’re almost hints of crossover present, but to label this album that way would be misleading.
In a short time of about thirty five minutes, National Suicide deliver exactly what it is that they were going for, with the old school style combining fun construction as well as a legit pummeling thrash beast. Neater production puts the icing on the cake, all packaged with an album cover that couldn’t be more fitting. This is strongly recommended to fans of Overkill, Nuclear Assault, Anthrax, or really any pioneering thrash band and anything that followed in its footsteps.
Massacre Elite was released on September 22, 2017 on Scarlet Records, and can be purchased on their Bandcamp page.