Label: Hammerheart Records
Date: January 19th, 2024
On the seventh day God created Master and forty years on, Master created “Saints Dispelled”. And they heard that it was good!
I’m proud to say Mr. Speckmann himself announced that the new record is in the preparation stages, in the interview we’ve done about a year ago. In keeping with the long running “tradition” of Master and its Mastermind, since then, both kept their heads down, worked hard instead of speaking loudly, which, in turn, resulted in a record that keeps smashing my speakers for days on end.
Of course, with Master there’s hardly a need to write many wise words. The mere mention of their new album being released should make the loyal followers start warming up the neck muscles. This is a band that delivers. Though stubbornly keeping to the sound they helped invent, Master stays fresh. Even if fanatically dedicated to simple creative solutions, Master remains effective and hellishly catchy. Put together, the fandom waited six long years and now that the wait is over, it was well-worth it.
Starting with the “death metal 101” in the opener “Destruction in June”, the album quickly shows its thrashing and punk sides, mid-track. Its follower, the pick for the first single, “Walk in the Footsteps of Doom” might in its title promise a heavier, slower, doomy death metal approach, but does anyone really expect something like that from Master? As it turns out, the song punches its way from crust punk lockdown to hit you with a death metal revenge. The just-over-three-minutes-long knockout blow, then delivered by the title track, with its Bay Area background, leaves no room for misunderstanding. This is Master and the name is justly deserved!
Among the highlights off the remainder of “Saints Dispelled”, there comes “Minds Under Pressure”, which holds the title for the catchiest chorus on the record. Not to mention the somewhat oriental guitar lead that guides us into it. I can see the crowd headbanging in perfect unison to it. Again, the lead guitar in “Find Your Life”, groovy punk death metal in “Marred and Diseased”, etc.
However, there are surprises coming to wrap up the album. Is it weird that the oriental six-string comes back to haunt us in the opening of “The Wiseman”? I don’t have the lyrics yet, but there might be an Arabic inspiration to the tale of this wiseman in particular. Given the omnipresent sense of religious, social and political awareness in Master’s lyrics and the constant turmoil (did I say oil?) in the middle east, there might be something there. On the other hand, the main riff and its rhythmic positioning remind me of Running Wild, but its all neatly wrapped in Master coating. There’s also a subtly drawn-through bass solo (lead?) at the finish line. Just a detail perhaps, but a damn fine one.
The last off “Saints Dispelled” is a classic Master death metal tune, topped by a line as strong as that legendary “Do you want to die?” in Slayer’s “Postmortem”. When Mr. Speckmann exclaims the question “Are you free?”, accompanied by the extreme metal maelstrom, it has to ring out in everybody’s head.
Onward to the bad news. But only for vinyl lovers out there. In a bizarre twist on popular physical musical carriers and their ranking, Master pushes two bonus songs for those who opt for a more compact of the two plastic discs. Simply put, the CD version of “Saints Dispelled” will contain a straight-forward, old school metal of death track “Nomads” and its heavier, more intense, “Obituary-ish”, eight-minute-long, brother-in-arms titled “Alienation of Insanity”.
On a plus side for LP afficionados, they will get a massive image of a saint dispelled by the very hand of Mr. Richard Schouten, who has exceptionally portrayed what Master laid to rest on the black circle itself.
So, are we in the presence of another death metal classic? Who knows!? Who cares, anyway!? From the mentioned conversation I had with Mr. Speckmann, I got an impression he doesn’t really give a crap. Master is about delivering straight-up, honest music from the creator’s heart. If the band members are happy with the result, who am I to judge. I just heard that it was good!