Master – The Witchhunt

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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 MASTER_The_Witchhunt_cover_300dpiridiculously 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?

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Master/18521536017

9.5/10

RingMaster 27/09/2013

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Massive Assault – Death Strike

Death Strike the new album from Dutch death metal band Massive Assault is a bulging belligerent brute which does what it says on the tin, well as the band name suggests for sure. Through ten cantankerous bruisings called tracks the release thunders and bludgeons to great and eager effect. The admittedly album does not explore brand new avenues but instead draws a deep  energy and colossal sized sounds from the well of old school Swedish death metal linking it to veins of thrash, hardcore and seeping drops of punk. As a result Death Strike is a tanker of formidable fully charged metal that gets the job done to a fruitful and pleasing satisfaction.

Since their formation in the early part of the last decade Massive Assault has left lingering marks through early demos, their debut EP Conflict , their first album Dystopian Prophecies, and the Slayer EP of last year. They are a band that leaves one breathless even if unsurprised with each release, their sounds driven by a familiar flavour and direction but with a feel and energy that leaves many other similar spiced bands choking in their dust. Their second album released through FDA Rekotz, a label that impresses with each release they share to the world, sees the quartet again assault the senses with their expected and thrilling sound though with a possibly leaner and tighter craft to their compulsive creations. If the likes of Dismember and Entombed rile up your juices than Death Strike is an album for you, a release deeply footed in the pits of Swedish death metal but with more than enough freshly cultivated additives to offer not necessarily something markedly new but music that churns up your senses and hikes up the pleasure.

Opening track Drive towards Death sets out the intent of the album from the first note. Destructive riffs flying from every angle whilst a teasing groove from guitarist Fredde Kaddeth spears through the ear with mesmeric appeal so that within moments the song an essential treat. Alongside these delicious infectious manipulations the bass of Jozze lays darkened ominous muscular tones whilst the rhythms and beats of drummer Gideon strike with the precision of the keenest artillery.  It brings nothing remarkably original forward but the track is a wonderful irresistible partner in crime, a metal song that hits all the right spots.

The consistency across the album is high though some of that is down to the songwriting not worrying too much about being openly varied from song to song. That is not a big issue as the core sound and creativity is distinctly and strongly enjoyable and Massive Assault do add noticeable flavours to songs to stop them being simply reorganised clones, the likes of Plead Not Guilty full of punk infused energy and the excellent Pride adding a heavy metallic coating to its intensity.

Throughout vocalist Carl Christ spews out the lyrics with a delivery as caustic and venomous as the war born themes of the song, his unvaried delivery a vibrant stinging compliment to the combative sounds around him. Often lack of variety in vocals across a release is a negative but here it works perfectly, his inflections and the pacing of his grizzled assault controlled and intelligent.

As Death Strike sends its tracks relentlessly onward some songs leave a deeper enjoyable scar. Finished Sympathy tramples through the ear with a steady and even pace, its heavy weight consumption impressive as it crushes bone and sinew under foot. With rhythms using the senses like a punch ball the track leaves a gasping husk in its wake, an open victim for the following chug fest of Turning Tides. The slow stalk opening of the song prowls and glares, the muscles of the song flexing through swarming oppressive riffs and drums sure of their dominance. Eventually erupting into a gallop of thumping solid guitars and rhythms the track stomps all in sight whilst a brief but enlightened solo alleviates the pressure for a brief yet inspired moment.

Death Strike has no pretensions to be what it is not, the release simply a powerful and completely enjoyable unrestrained companion to share mayhem with. Massive Assault does not open new doors but they certainly make the room they command a very thrilling place to be in.

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RingMaster 30/03/2012

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