Massive Attack

Massive Attack are an English trip hop group, founded in 1988 by Robert Del Naja, Grantley Marshall, and Andrew Vowles in Bristol, England. The trio were together prior to the formation of this band, known as The Wild Bunch. With the release of their debut album Blue Lines in 1991, Massive Attack were critically acclaimed for their fusion of jazz, hip hop, rock, and soul elements into a new genre, trip hop. With the release of later albums such as Protection in 1994 and Mezzanine in 1998, the band integrated forms of electronic music into their sound. Their music was part of the larger Bristol underground scene. During their tenure, the group has teamed up with the likes of Madonna, Mos Def, Sinéad O'Connor, Horace Andy, among many others.



Massive Attack began as an offshoot of the popular mid-1980s sound system The Wild Bunch. The core group consisted of three members, Robert Del Naja ("3D"), Grant Marshall ("Daddy G") and Andrew Vowles ("Mushroom"), along with occasional Wild Bunch collaborator (and also Del Naja's roommate) Tricky. In 1988 they released their first single "Any Love", followed in 1991 by their first album, Blue Lines, featuring the hit singles "Unfinished Sympathy" (with Shara Nelson) and "Safe From Harm". The album, which was produced by Cameron McVey, was well-received both critically and commercially. Blue Lines subsequently became one of the most influential British records of the 1990s, ushering in a new genre of music sometimes referred to as the 'Bristol sound', but more often labeled trip-hop, a label Massive Attack have said they dislike. Despite the use of breakbeats, samples, and rap courtesy of Tricky, "Blue Lines" is distinct stylistically from American hip-hop. The music is more complex, layered, and atmospheric, earning the designation of trip-hop, with its unique British tone and aesthetic The group were prominent in the 1980s Bristol club scene, and are considered pioneers of trip-hop.


During the first Gulf War the band temporarily changed their name to Massive after pressure from their label, to avoid implying support of the attack on Iraq. In 1994, Massive Attack released their follow-up album, Protection, an album that featured two string instrumentals arranged by Craig Armstrong. The band was also joined by producer Chris Rapps who helped give a deeper, more lush sound than the first album.This marked Tricky's last collaboration with Massive Attack, as he chose to concentrate wholly on his solo career. Tricky used lyrics from other songs (chronologically before and after the album's release) at some points during the recording. Several of the lyrics from "Karmacoma" shared between Tricky and 3D were later sung by Martina Topley-Bird on Tricky's single "Overcome". On "Eurochild", Tricky borrowed lyrics from "Blank Expression" by The Specials. Two songs ("Protection" and "Better Things") feature Everything But The Girl vocalist Tracey Thorn, whom the band collaborated with on a remake of The Marvelettes' hit "The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game" for the Batman Forever soundtrack. In 1996, the band won a BRIT Award for "best dance act". One year later, the group contributed to the movie soundtrack of The Jackal, recording "Superpredators (Metal Postcard)", a number containing a sample of Siouxsie and the Banshees.

Massive Attack's third album, Mezzanine, was released in 1998. With Mezzanine, the band moved to a darker, tense sound filled with distorted guitars and a combination of drum machines and live percussion that lacked the laid-back, jazzy nature they had occasionally shown in previous albums. Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins sang lead vocals on three tracks. Original member Vowles, dissatisfied with this change in sound, left the band shortly after the release of the album. He was replaced by Neil Davidge, who worked with Del Naja for much of his material on Mezzanine. The release of Mezzanine also led to a change in Massive Attack's live show. In addition to their previous simple set up of a few mics and turntables, the group began incorporating more and more live instrumentation into their shows. In addition to their usual numerous guest vocalists, the trio were now being joined on stage by a live guitarist, bassist, drummer, and keyboard player, as well as a video screen and lighting effects from United Visual Artists. Also during this time many members including Richie Partridge left the band due to musical differences but the core members remain. Two tracks from this album appeared in motion pictures. One is the track Angel, which is included in the movies Pi, Snatch, Antitrust and Flight of the Phoenix. In the film Go, Angel is played at high volume by the drug dealer Todd as he searches Ronna for a hidden microphone, but the song is not included in the soundtrack. In the movie The Matrix, the track Dissolved Girl, which was co-written by Sarah Jay (featured vocalist) and Matt Schwartz is playing though Neo's headphones as he sleeps passed out in front of his computer. The song is listed in the movie's credits but does not appear on the soundtrack.


Massive Attack's fourth album, 100th Window, which was recorded without Marshall, was released in early 2003. It entered the Top 10 at Number 1 in the UK. In 2004, the band, now consisting of Del Naja, Rapps, Davidge, and programmer Alex Swift, released an instrumental soundtrack for the feature film Danny the Dog, which was produced by Luc Besson. The film's title was changed to Unleashed prior to the American release, though the album was initially released under the original title as it came out months before the film. 2005 saw the band contribute another soundtrack, this time for the feature film Bullet Boy. Also in 2006, the band released a greatest hits compilation, Collected. The two-disc set includes selected tracks from their studio albums, some rare singles, and two new tracks. The DVD layer of the second disc also contains all the group’s music videos to date. Massive Attack also returned to the studio to record a new album, tentatively titled Weather Underground. Of the three original members, Del Naja and Marshall have returned to record the group’s fifth studio album. However, they will not be collaborating with each other extensively. Del Naja will be in one studio with producers Chris Rapps and Neil Davidge, and Marshall will be working from his own studio on the other side of Bristol. Dot Allison, Horace Andy, Mike Patton, and Mos Def are expected to contribute vocals. Their song "Teardrop" was also used in North America as the theme to the Fox TV series House, MD. "Teardrop" has lyrics, sung by guest vocalist Elizabeth Fraser of Cocteau Twins; however, the version used in the opening credits uses only the beginning and ending sections, which are solely instrumental. "Teardrop" is also used in a season 1 episode of Prison Break titled "Tonight." Again, only the beginning and ending sections are used. In 2008, they composed the track Herculaneum for the end credits of Matteo Garrone's film Gomorra.

In Summer 2008, Massive Attack started touring the songs from the new album. New album is confirmed to be "almost finished", but the release date is not being rushed.

Vocal Duties

Past Albums



External links

Search another word or see aftersunon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature