SummaryBehold Paul Speckmann’s rage
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While plenty of early death metal bands are often lumped together in the old school death metal category, it’s pretty obvious that sub-variants quickly started to emerge over time. Take Nocturnus and Atheist for instance, who in 1990 already showed how improved musicianship would lead to different results. All great and whatnot, but some bands such as Master had no interest in sophistication and technicality and they finally managed to release a debut in the same year (even though a debut album was already planned for 1985, but wouldn’t see the light of day until 2003).
Given Master‘s year of formation it would be tempting to lump the band in the same category as Possessed and Death, but don’t be fooled. Early death metal albums often sounded distinctive and Master is yet another example of such. Whereas comparable figures such as Chuck Schuldiner and Jeff Becerra were inspired by horror movies and the occult, Paul Speckmann was just a regular guy angry at society and it shows. The guitars conjure neither spectral nor disgusting melodies and while they might lack the ripping guitar tone of Scream Bloody Gore, guitars simply pummel forward with malice. Vocally Paul Speckmann also stood out when compared to the aforementioned figures, as his vocals resemble the angry shouts of a mortal being more so than the bellow of a demonic creature, the shrieks of an undead creature or whatnot. But back to Master: the production is a plus point – whereas one could find some of the same material on the band’s Unreleased 1985 album (or partially on Deathstrike’s debut for that matter), that album captured the essence of a band getting loudly as possible in Paul Speckmann’s garage and you’ll have to admit, that one sounds a bit rough. Master sounds a tad more balanced; as if I’m listening to the band jamming outside of Paul Speckmann’s house. Sonically speaking this does the guitars most justice; here it’s much easier to point out what they’re actually doing.
Despite the slightly cleaned up production job, Master is still a pretty damn heavy record and I couldn’t imagine people thinking otherwise. If explosive introduction of “Pledge of Alliance” doesn’t convince you then “Unknown Soldier” should… with a punishing of a main riff that gets close to the early (meaning: 80’s) Bolt Thrower territory, how could it not? Certainly, there’s nothing complicated about Master but that’s what makes this album so much fun; it’s just so authentic and doesn’t pretend to be something it shouldn’t be. Compositions progress onward with no warning signs, interludes or whatnot and while there’s definitely a lack of obvious variation to the record, you should be able to notice subtle differences (and I’m not just talking about that destructive “Children of the Grave” cover either). “Funeral Bitch” represents this hardcore punk-attitude Paul Speckmann was all about, the title track features Paul Speckmann at his most venomous and by spitting out those uplifting lyrics, the result is as much of an aggressive as an actual triumphant number. “The Truth” should be a reminder of how much you can achieve with a few power chords and makes an excellent banger of an album closer; it’s vile simplicity at its best.
Master might be on the short side, but it’s a lot of fun and succeeds at what it tries to achieve. As far as songwriting is concerned I like it better than its successor and as I already mentioned, the production works better than that of the Unreleased 1985 album (even if both of those records have their moments as well). Basically there’s no way you can go wrong with this album… now strike your idols down and wear the master’s crown!
Release date: 1990
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