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Black metal and thrash metal. Probably the historical link between these two genres is one of the most successful combinations in the metal scene worldwide. Hellhammer, Venom or Celtic Frost were undisputed influences in the rise of black metal; during the eighties and the early nineties the foundations of this genre were firmly attached to the ground, and today we have many bands that inherited the original sound, the prime evil, and keep it alive. One Master is one of those bands. Forsaking a Dead World is their creation.
Many adjectives are used to describe the black sound: raw, cold, minimalist, but such labels end up turning into cliches. It's simple: you either like it or not, period. This band captures the listener because what they do, they do well. This is a harsh album, like Dante's travel through hell while guided by poet Virgil.
In my opinion the production is a highlight, because it blackens the sound of every instrument to the core –it's true that the bass is well buried in the mix though–, and this gives great stability to the whole thing even in the slowest moments like on Chill of the Grave, a dark hymn with powerful riffs that show with great heaviness due to the mid-tempo drumming.
The inclusion in their sound of some thrash elements gives enough variety to the rhythm guitar arrangements, and on certain passages we can even hear how a thrash-driven riff becomes the main element. However, the melodic guitars are the ones that claim lordship over this opus, well fed with tremolo riffs that sound pretty good in general.
The Test is another high point on this recording, built with the aggressiveness of Stabwound's blast beats from the beginning and offering the best tremolo of the album towards the end, beautiful and fast.
Forsaking a Dead World is a black metal album made with a spirit and sound we already know, and in this sense is not an offering of something unexplored or groundbreaking, in many aspects is even traditional, but its value resides in the fact that it rescues key elements of the purest black metal and the genre followers know how to appreciate that, and even though it displays a known sound, the quality is undoubtedly there.
Not a couple months ago, One Master was still at the studio recording what will be their next album, whose title is The Quiet Eye of Eternity, and if we base our opinion on the quality of the material reviewed here, the expectations for the next album are good. We'll keep an eye on the work of this band.
Originally submitted to (http://www.metalicos.com) on April 14, 2008.
Perhaps some of the best albums are those you can recognize are great but have trouble articulating particularly why. I think that this is akin to how, when using a piece of computer software, the best interface is one you barely think about when using. The best interface is one that is close to completely transparent, helping bring the user closer to dealing with the program in a totally natural fashion. So music is similar: the best music is simply great with no reasoning of WHY it's great getting in the way of enjoying and experiencing it.
It took me a few listens, but I can safely say that One Master's debut album, 'Forsaking A Dead World', is one of those releases which very nearly achieves total transparency with the audience. It's so good it's almost unnoticably good; listening to it is a purely enjoyable experience that seems to refuse extensive evaluation on the part of the listener, so pure are its musical values. It took me a while to warm up to, actually; a couple absent minded listens made me file it into the 'good but unremarkable' category, but after listening to it in its entirety during a nighttime highway drive, I can safely say that it's one of the best USBM albums to come out in several years, and it's all the more amazing because it doesn't need to do anything unusual to achieve that distinction. The members of the band are simply very accomplished, natural songwriters, and it's shown in music where a misstep is not only never heard, but the idea of one never even enters the mind of the listener. It's just fantastic and while listening you can only detect the utter clarity of vision it takes to release something of such simple, undeniable quality.
One Master takes all the conventions of traditional, raw Norwegian-style black metal and makes a fantastic album out of them. The voices are simple: distorted guitar, somewhat audible bass, snarling, declarative vocals, and simple, driving drums, but out of this simplicity arises enormously nuanced music. In this way, it reminds me of Gorgoroth's 'Pentagram' very strongly, in that the music speaks for itself and feels no need to adhere to anyone's rules. Like early Gorgoroth, the riffing style is not immediately comparable to any other band simply because the band, very logically, had no other artist in mind when deciding to compose this music. It is the sort of album that could have arisen on its own without the genre of 'black metal' as we know it, simply because this is not music made to adhere to the standards of black metal, but music created which simply happens to fit the black metal form.
This is a riff-dominated album, with a dark, gothic, medieval sense of melody about it which is very refreshing when compared to the overly sleek, ultra-modern tremolo patterns found in so many black metal bands these days. It seems the band is very definitely going for a middle ages feel with this music; the melodic sense and lyrics are simply too evocative to be anything else. The riffs are incredibly developed, remarkably so, passing through numerous moods not only throughout songs, but mid-riff, showing a GENUINE complexity in writing, not the mere illusion of such crafted by using lots of notes in one place. The music is at times daringly minimal but no less lush and rich in aesthetic detail than it is at even the most complex moments. One Master uses the basic lexicon of black metal- blast beats, tremolo riffs, power chords, thrash beats, harsh vocals- and crafts something new and exciting with them in a time when being genuinely excited by a black metal release is exceedingly rare.
'Forsaking A Dead World' is a phenomenal debut album from a band that does not simply 'have potential', but has reached it long ago. I cannot recommend this release enough to any and all black metal fans out there: if you give this release a chance, you will come away with something of definite greatness which reveals something new on every listen.