Eleven albums in with the twelfth upon us, US death metal pioneers Master shows no signs of letting up or taking their creative feet off of the pedal from continuing to make one of the most inspiring potent impacts on the genre. The Witchhunt is their latest phenomenal scourge of the freshest contagious grooves and sonic temptation crafted within an insidious web of bone shuddering rhythms and predatory corrosive riffing.
Since being formed thirty years or so ago by vocalist/bassist Paul Speckmann and drummer Bill Schmidt, the pair meeting when the latter was brought into the former’s band at the time War Cry, the Chicago hailing band has helped sculpt and drive US death metal whilst influencing the genre across its extensive field. The band’s start was not quite a fluid event with the pair struggling to find a suitable guitarist. This led to Schmidt joining Mayhem Inc. and Speckmann starting up Death Strike which used some of the songs intended for Master. Eventually Speckmann reunited with Schmidt in Death Strike which was subsequently renamed Master and its history truly began. Across their previous swarm of albums the band has continued to enthral and impress, let along incite and inspire many others, their releases never less than gripping and often acclaimed pinnacles of death metal. The trio of Speckmann, guitarist Alex Nejezchleba, and drummer Zdenek Pradlovsky now unleash another undoubted peak with The Witchhunt. Released via FDA-Rekotz, the release comes with a raw and coarse texture which you can imagine will not be for all but certainly brings an intensity and caustic breath which only accentuates the potency and venom coursing through the album’s veins.
The title track starts of the irrepressible temptation, riffs rhythms seizing the ear as a toxic groove permeates the synapses with ridiculously addictive bait. Barely a minute into the track with the vocals of Speckmann squalling nastily over the lure, song and album has hunger alight. Settled into its torrential assault the track does lose some of its surprise impact but offers an intensive unrelenting suasion of heavy shadowed urgency and sonic flames instead. It only accentuates the strength and call of the song, the band still yet refreshingly creating their trademark fusion of old school Motorhead, Venom, and early Slayer corruptive death metal enterprise.
The following Plans Of Hate continues the ridiculously addictive climate of sound and aggression if without matching the immense impact of the first. Grooves and imaginative guitar fire spirals across the plain of intensive provocation, whilst the gait of the track is juggernaut like and fuelled with high grade rapaciousness right through to its final swipe before Another Suicide parades its lumbering intensive pads of sound split with wonderfully niggling sonic rabidity and that vocal maliciousness and scurrilous delivery distinct to Speckmann.
The album continues to increase its grip on the senses and passions, getting better with each subsequent track with Waiting to Die next devouring ears and thoughts with its chugging thrash bred resourcefulness and contagious swagger. It alone confirms that the band still has the instinctive ability to create songs which ravage and annihilate whilst taking the listener on an impossible to resist ride of pure infectiousness and impossibly addictive sonic temptation. The guitar imagination which flails the song later on is equally as delicious and bewitching, ensuring every wants and needs of the appetite are catered for. The likes of The Parable with its swarming predation and the smothering, almost suffocating rampage of God of Thunder twist the passions taunt around their sinews and breath-stealing toxic crusades; the constant waspish grooves and sonic stings stalking the senses through the embroiling rhythmic barrage of invention and violence. Equally tracks such as the exceptional and transfixing Remove the Clowns, a song which shows more compelling twists and sonic curves than a pole dancer, and the Motorhead similar Wipe out the Aggressor, well until it unchains grooves and enticements which should be illegal such their addiction, leave the deepest greed for the album’s presence and corruption.
Manipulated to Exterminate sees Speckmann offering a spoken narrative alongside his usual excellent pestilence of a delivery which brings the lyrical side of the song more to the fore. It has to be said that lyrically the album is a bit of the blur but that is more to do with the epidemically narcotic pull of the distracting sounds; with close attention the word side of things is generally as firm as the maelstroms raging around them. The outstanding track is another major highlight in nothing but peaks with the closing furnace of The American Dream a matching destructive conclusion to one beast of a thrilling release.
The band continues to set benchmarks and certainly The Witchhunt will be another marker for fans and bands alike. The album is easily one of the most impressive and enjoyable extreme metal releases of the year, though do we really expect anything else from Master?
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