I could hardly believe it.
Master – a band name that seemed like a by-word for all that’s old, tired and grey about Death Metal. And that’s just the state of main man Paul Speckman.
He’s the old hand who’s kept it lit for longer than most people reading this have been alive.
Who knows what he’s still got to be angry about after all that time. There must be something though – perhaps the state of young bucks with fringes and Ed Hardy shirts playing deathcore? – making him cross, because this new album is absolutely bursting with fire and riffstone.
I mean, even the title – ‘The New Elite’ – just seems so out of context for a band like Master. But let’s not dwell on all the incongruities. This is an album to be straight out enjoyed, nay relished.
The opener, also the title track, cracks the can and lets out a jolly burst of double kick and punishing riffwork that just immediately harks to the greats: oldest Sinister, Vomitory, Dismember, and even further back toward Autopsy, ‘Scream Bloody Gore’ and ‘Leprosy’ era Death, Massacre and so many more.
It’s got the same kind of energy and lust for life that the rekindled Deicide had on ‘The Stench of Redemption’, though obviously not quite the same blast laden intesity. No, this is the kind of proper death metal for real men: blasts when they’re necessary, and a good jaunty pace for the rest of the time.
Speckman is on real form. Let’s face it, railing against conspiracy and government is usually the preserve of the lyrical infant. Yet Speckman’s got it down, particularly in the groovy ‘Rise Up And Fight’ where he snarls ‘Get a grip on reality – you must rise up and fight the machine’. It’s total, old school class.
Then there’s the Cannibal Corpse-esque
‘Redirect The Evil’, which is full of those ‘Hammer Smash Face’ trills and hammer-ons.
Another mosher, it’s a class track that shows a different side to the riff work.
There will, by this point, be many a hardened death metal head needing to crank up the heavies just a bit more. Fear not! Paul and the boys hear your call. And remarkably, this late in the album, the blastbeats start raining down. Just hear
the savage ‘New Reforms’ for a blast that will absolutely gun you down.
Alright, so it’s a bit heavy on the pinch harmonics. It flags here and there, naturally.
But on balance this is an absolutely relentless album
in the classic death metal mould – the mould that Paul Speckman himself helped shape. It utterly shits on what Morbid Angel and the Hoffmans are doing these days for a start, as well as tucking kids with luminous trainers firmly back into bed.
It’s just got everything. From the Angelcorpse attitude and guitar tone to the God Dethroned crispness of attack and songwriting, it’s a wealth of death metal delight. And best of all, it’s so simple, so straightforward, in a way that underground metal used to be.
4.1 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 28/06/12