Hailing originally from Chicago but now based in the Czech Republic, MASTER may just be one of those great, long recording Metal bands you’ve barely heard of, and judging by their output that’s a shame. Their biography is long and there’s no need to flesh it out here, suffice to say Paul Speckmann (bass, vocals) is and always has been the backbone of MASTER, and what he and fellow bandmates exude on “The Human Machine” is some disgustingly filthy Death Metal in the vein of MALEVOLENT CREATION and DECEASED, and it is a thing of horrible beauty. Putting their own speedy and ugly spin on such a formula, MASTER have produced a real gem of an album here. Chunky riffs dispatched with precision and just enough crunch is expertly buttressed with a punchy, organic rhythm section which culminates in a well written, played and thoroughly enjoyable sortie into Deathland.
The opening title track has what is sorely missing from many of today’s ‘Death-Metal-xyz-‘core: a terse opening followed with a sumptuous blazing DM riff that puts to shame every break-down ever recorded. Following this is the powerhouse song “It's What Your Country Can Do For You”, which seamlessly blends these components again; cracking mountainous riffs which slide from the hasty to almost sludge like intensity, fusing power and flair all in one. Speckmann also has one grimy, throaty vocal attack that leaves you feeling covered in viciously spewed spittle, all the while preaching his version of disillusionment through venomous barbs. What works so well on “The Human Machine” is the raw sound of the production, casting aside what we have become used to from almost every well and semi well-known Metal label these days. All the way through the album the band are given room to breathe and expand in what is an obviously organically brutal way, which again hails back to older and terribly missed days of Metal yore. Like the aforementioned DECEASED, “The Human Machine” while fierce also has its own internal feeling sway and groove. Nothing feels pushed on you here by any technical necessity or contemporary musical leanings; MASTER just splay you with their natural ability and desire to hammer out plain, and because of its older feel, stunningly refreshing Death Metal. Not every newer band of this genre grates (see THE RED CHORD) but as oxymoronic as it seems, “The Human Machine” feels almost new in its older affectations.
You can wax lyrical about your love of progressive Metal, the non-stop wankery of instrumental virtuosos and the seemingly endless barrage of technically proficient bands clamouring the metal scene right now, and at times I have been in that fold. But equally important is to have a band come along and kick the ever-living-shit out of you and remind you of why you love extreme Metal in the first place. MASTER, with this newest release does just that and it’s hard not to bathe in all its bleak splendour.
(Online October 7, 2010)