Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Master: „The Witchhunt“ As An Album Of The Month!

Master is one of those bands that I never really took the time to listen to. Why? Well I don't know to be honest. The are just to many bands out there I guess, you can't keep track of them all.
But as things had it I saw that Master where playing in a town close to where (Malmö to be more precise)  I live so I decided to check out the show. And I'm glad I did, cause DAMN! What a show! I have not been blown away by a concert in years. Paul Speckmann (singer,bass player and band leader) is one hell of a front man, the charisma of this man is unbelievable. The show left me very intrigued and hungry to check out more from this death metal titan that is called Master.
And together with veterans Zdeněk Pradlovský and Ales Nejezchleba you can't really go wrong.  So when I was presented with the opportunity to review Masters new album “The Witchhunt” I was more then happy to do so.

What greets me when I press play is a barrage of old school death metal in it's meanest way. It is primitive dirty and raw. Okey calling it primitive is not entirely true since some of the riffs are probably not that easy to play. But of course we are not talking anything to technical, but as anyone who has picked up an instrument and tried to play death metal knows, it is not the easiest style to play (I was so close to write a little funny thing here that I think you can figure out, but I kept myself in check, a hint it rhymes with Faster). Any way! The music is mainly fast pasted, a lot of thrash/punk beats on the drums, some blast beats here and there and of course some more standard beats aswell. Nothing is to blistering fast, it is old school stuff after all, not a land speed record attempt. Yeah did I mention the thrash beats, I did? Well there is a lot of that commodity.

When we come to the riffing we are treated to the usual suspects. Power chords aplenty and tremolo riffing galore! The riffs are killer by the way, it is really clear that this is an expertly crafted record, done by someone who has been doing this since before it was cool. There are no pretensions here just a love for the art of death metal. Nothing feels done just to check it of a list, every riff feels like it is done with love and that it is there because it should be not because it has to be. Many of the riffs has a very sinister feel to them, this is a pissed of record that has a lot on it's mind. This is not a record for the background, this record wants to be heard it wants you to pay full attention and take in every note.

As I said before this is old school death metal, and as you know that this means that there is a strong thrash vibe aswell. You can hear it in the drumming, the riffing and the soloing, but no where is it as apparent as in the vocals. The vocals are like a mix of the grunts of the more brutal thrash bands, think Sodom or Destruction but taken to the next logical level. But there is something ells lurking in the vocals and it took me a while to realize what it was. And then it hit me, Lemmy(Motörhead)!!! The vocals actually sounds rather similar to Lemmy's vocals. But obviously a lot more aggressive. But I do think that there is a certain Motörhead vibe over the entire record. It has a touch of dirty rock n roll and punk. Maybe it is the pissed of feeling that brings out these ideas in me. But there is another thing on this record that makes me think of this reference. And I'm not gonna tell you just yet!  the vocals are often for the most part double tracked which makes them extra thick  and more aggressive in my opinion. Some times there is only one voice but for the most part there are two. On the track Manipulated to exterminate there is a spoken word part. Really cool and thought provoking stuff actually.

The songs are all very strong, catchy and headbanging friendly. Some has a more of a thrash vibe and some are more straight up old school death metal, what keeps them all together is stellar musicianship and wicked riffs. And of course Paul's wicked voice. I can't find a weak track on the entire album, all of them have a high standard. As you might have guessed by now, this album is nothing groundbreaking or new. But why should it! It is an album by one of the creators of the genera. These guys are following no one, they are just keeping on doing what they have been doing for years. I mean this is their 12th album, just think of that. 12th album by a death metal band, that is pretty damn impressive. And what is more impressive is that they are keeping true to their style. They are doing what they love and getting better at it with every release. This kind of dedication is so remarkable to me, keeping doing their stuff in a time where everyone is mellowing their sound to sell more copies. But not Master they are hammering away and are not showing any signs of slowing down.

All of the players on this albums are really skilled at their instruments and it shows so well that we are dealing with guys that have been doing this for the better part of their lives. What I especially like is that there is an honesty to this album, and what I mean by this is that there is no sense of show off at all. Everything is played with heart and I think that is something that is sometimes getting lost. Instead of concentrating in writing good songs and playing in away that is nice to listen to a lot of bands get lost in the race to be fastest and most technically proficient. But not here, everything is played with a precision of a surgeon but it is still done for the sake of the song, not for the sake of showing off. I think is something that only a really seasoned musician can do, loose all pretension and just write good songs. Of course there is virtuosity on this record, the guitarist is sharp as a scalpel, his solos are fast and really impressive but still tastefully done. They are in the old school way, with wahwah and even some bluesy licks here and there. There are even some really tasteful harmony work in the solos, check out the songs “plans of hate” and “wipe out the aggressor”.

So before I said that there where something ells that reminded me of Motörhead on this album, and besides from some of the solos. I'm talking about the sound and mainly the drum sound. Cause boy we are talking and old school sound here, and I do by no way mean that they sound bad. I think they sound fantastic, but they sound like drums did before tiggering and digital polish. I think the drum sound makes this album sound the more genuine. What I mean is that it really sounds like what drums sound like when they are recorded and not fucked around with, not like a digital sample.
The overall sound is old school but good old school, not recorded in a garage with a boom box old school. Everything sounds heavy and crushing, yet clear and precise. You can hear everything and you can keep track of what is going on. Everything is loud in the mix and nothing feels overpowering. This is truly what a death metal should sound like. Just one more thought about the drums, I can't shake the mental image of seeing the drummer dude from Bill Withers video for “Ain't no sunshine when she is gone” playing drums on this album because of the drum sound.

So do you like Master? Then you have already bought this album and you don't need me to sell it to you. But if you haven't heard Master and like old school death metal or even the more brutal forms of thrash, do yourself a favor and get their new album “The Witchhunt” cause you will love it, over and over again.

01. The Witchhunt
02. Plans of Hate
03. Another Suicide
04. Waiting to Die
05. The Parable
06. God of Thunder
07. Remove the Clowns
08. Raise your Sword
09. Wipe out the Aggressor
10. Manipulated to Exterminate
11. The American Dream

Sweden`s Wilhelm Lindh*, "Portuguese by adoption," guitar player,  composer and owner of the Doom / Death Metal band The Gardnerz, reviews here in Careful and professional analysis to the music and albums with suggestions of what there is to see and hear ... not to be missed. "The wisdom is found in the extremes, all extreme Metal here!".

„The Witchhunt“, is scheduled for September 27th. via FDARekotz on CD and LP. The album comes with fantastic artwork by ArtWars Mediadesign. Besides the regular black vinyl, inlay, 140 gram vinyl, 350gsm sleeve cover there will be 2 different limited colored versions. 100 copies in blue transparent vinyl + A2 poster + embroidered MASTER patch, inlay, 350gsm sleeve cover 200 copies in white vinyl + A2 poster, inlay, 350gsm sleeve cover

Paul Speckmann
Paul Speckmann - Bass and Vocals
Alex Nejezchleba - Lead and Rhythm Guitars
Zdenek Pradlovsky - Drums

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