Laughing in the face of existential horror and spitting in the face of red-blooded American hypocrisy; Total Massacre plays every song with a sense of urgency and dread as if at any second some lunatic in the White House might unleash nuclear annihilation upon us all. Breakneck pace buzzsaw guitars, mixed with lyrics drenched in the disaffected rage of life.
Vocalist Cap'n No Fun says, “True story: one of many weird jobs I’ve had in my life was working the night-shift at a vitamin factory. So the pills arrive in these massive burlap sacks, get hoisted up by a little crane, and then a worker splits the bag open over a big conveyor belt. That conveyor belt then sends half the pills down one line to be packaged into the name brand bottles, and the other half into the store brand bottles that cost about half as much. Now I know it’s only an anecdote, but that always stuck with me, and I’m pretty sure that’s how like 90% of our economy works. If the choices we made meant anything, they wouldn’t give them to us.”
Right on schedule, outspoken Los Angeles hardcore thrashers Total Massacre are back this month with their third single of 2021: a dissection of a core pillar of capitalist propaganda titled "Pick Yer Poison." At their usual breakneck pace, the band details the myriad false choices provided to us by the cruel system we inhabit, culminating in the grim realization that many of us have likely had this past year that “they don’t care if you die.” The song dispenses with any bit of fluff, and instead throws razor-sharp guitars, thunderous drums, and a primal wail of anti-capitalist rage at the listener over the course of 70 incredibly urgent seconds.
In 2018, Total Massacre self-released their self-titled debut and immediately caught attention for both their directness and foresight in addressing the state of the US and where it was headed.
From the opening track, “Thoughts and Prayers,” to “Preexisting Shitheads” and “GOPiece of Shit,” the band made sure there was no question as to which direction they were pointing their ire. The
album’s closing track, the eponymous “Total Massacre,” hints not only at the ways their sound would evolve with crossover thrash riffs on later albums, but also grimly portends the world we would
all soon inhabit. “I don’t know how we’re getting out of this one without a Total Massacre,” frontman Cap’n No Fun bellows over the end of the song’s breakdown, as if fully aware of the horrors
to come but helpless to do anything but spectate.
Perhaps this is why the band wasn’t content to rest as the world crumbled around them, and almost immediately returned to their home base, Beer City Studios in Van Nuys, CA to record three songs for a self-released split with The Lungs, and a full-length follow up to their debut that would be released in 2019, titled 'The System Works.'
“The System Works really was a huge step for us as far as songwriting goes,” Cap’n No Fun explained. “I’m not entirely sure how, but we managed to keep the songs straightforward since that’s kind of our thing, but still build up a sort of over-arching thesis about how all the awful shit we see around us, all the things that make our lives hell, are by design, and not accidental or natural as we are so often led to believe.”
The pandemic of 2020 temporarily ground things to a halt for the usually prolific band but didn’t stop them entirely. Following up the release of the single “Infrastructure Week” in April, Total Massacre had to learn how to write songs without getting into a room together like they were used to.
“We have always leaned on each other heavily for concepts and suggestions for our songs, not just musically but lyrically,” explained guitarist Mike Massacre. “I cannot tell you how many times we have had one idea for a song and the final track turns out completely different from that initial idea. But miraculously, we have still been able to write new songs since COVID started all via Zoom, Slack, email, etc. Once we felt ready, we rehearsed live a couple times (safely) and recorded at our studio as quickly and as socially distanced as we could. Modern technology!”
The result of those recordings is six songs that sound possibly even more urgent than anything they’ve released before. While they had always positioned themselves as a foil to Trump and all the other evil republicans in power (to the point that a long-running joke of their live shows was Cap’n No Fun announcing that the title of every song was “Fuck Trump”) the band makes it clearer than ever before on these songs that our problems run much deeper than a reality show president and his enablers. Because the prospect of returning to “business as usual” as musicians seems so far away, Total Massacre decided to try something unique with this release, dropping one song a month for the first half of 2021.
In January, the first of these tracks, “Get Rich or Try Dying,” was released. This gave listeners one minute and twenty seconds of raging thrash and the important reminder that we are consumers first and citizens second in the eyes of those in power. February saw the release of the timely “Pro-Life Death Cult” that catalogs the litany of disgusting lies and absurd conspiracy theories that led to 500,000 needless deaths in the richest country in the world.