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Schizophrenic second league worship - 69%

kluseba, July 26th, 2011

The self titled debut album of "Master" is another overlooked and essential piece of traditional Russian heavy metal, this time with a focus on thrash metal. Two past members of Aria founded this group and wanted to play music in the key of the first Aria records with a slightly heavier approach. In a strange way, the musicians weren't quite able to entirely disconnect from Aria and their smoother metal sound. The band plays two cover versions of the second album of Aria for this record and even if they sound slightly heavier, more riff orientated and a little bit faster, the difference isn't enough to give a different atmosphere or own character to those great tracks. I also think that it isn't a good and courageous sign to include two cover versions from past bands on the first record of a new band. They should rather focus on forging their own identity and that's where this album ultimately fails.

Let me explain why. The album starts truly promising with the two best tracks. "Master" as well as "Watch out" are two fast paced and vivid speed metal anthems with clear thrash metal influences that remind a lot of the Russian band "Kruiz" as well as of the American legends of "Metallica". "Hands off!" combines both thrash and heavy metal roots in fast paced verses and a more melodic and classic chorus. They create a very vivid banger that works well and the bands seems to have found its own and unique approach right here.

But suddenly, the band plays softer and rather traditional heavy metal tracks that could also be written by Aria. I must admit that tracks like "Shield and sword" are still great metal tracks that remind me of the energy of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal but the band almost completely abandons its thrash metal approach and plays quite the same music that many other bands offer already in a similar or better quality. They lose too much their original approach, goal and energy that just comes back with the short and sweet speed metal killer "Who will win" at the well done end of the album and that mixes heavy and thrash metal in a great manner. But when the band plugs an atmospheric dark ride interlude with choirs and keyboards called "It's night once again" that turns out to be the second longest track on here, they just lose me here and turn me off. Normally, I'm very positive and open minded towards this kind of experiments, but it's too abrupt in here and completely breaks with the strong two or three first songs of the album. Let's say that this experiment is way too long and repeated in the overlong introduction of "Keep me" that has almost a doom or gothic feeling that is than mixed with classic hard rock and heavy metal riffs. This may sound innovating and promising but is completely incoherent to the album's thrash metal beginning as well as the heavy metal tracks in the middle of the record. The band completely mixes me up and sounds pointless.

In the end, the whole thing sounds as if someone had mixed three different albums by three different bands into a strange potpourri. This effect gives a really weird and schizophrenic impression to the record and rates this album down. Musically, it's interesting and there are only two weaker tracks with "It's night once again" and "Keep me" but if we add the two cover songs two this, there are only five more or less unique but at least good average to great songs that worship the mentioned bands. The talent can be heard on the whole record but the band lacks of focus, uniqueness and creativity. That's why this somewhat slightly overrated album gets a rather low rating and plays only in the second league of Russian metal music according to me.

Master - Their finest effort - 89%

Savage300, June 20th, 2003

Probably, this is the best album Master managed to put out (still having troubles to decide). While a few later outputs are insanely thrashy, this is mostly a speed metal issue.
A speed metal issue, except the first track "Master", not only the best song on here, but it has definitely a very thrashy intro riff. Not only the intro riff is really thrashy, but it's also one of the most twisted bone-crushing riffs ever. Damn good stuff. Most opinions on this track are not as high, as they should be, because of the "annoying vocalist". Here and now I declare those opinions to be complete blasphemy. The voice works very well with the whole song definitely. Another cool thing about this song is the ending, which features the same intro riff and verse, but a lot faster.
The next song "Beware", being a solid piece of music, manges to sound quite bad, exactly because of the "annoying vocalist". But in general it's good overall, just one needs to get a bit used to it.
The third track "Hands Off" is another nice speedy song, notable for some cute verse riffs and catchy chorus.
"Shield And Sword", after a small intro, sarts the main riff, another damn memorable, but as far, as the next riff starts, a lot more memorable. Then, the chorus riff, even more memorable. This is definitely the special Master thing, putting out not very technically difficult, but quite memorable riffs. In general this song has a few slow moments, but by the riffs it is a total winner (except the first track, naturally).
The next track is the one that usually is skipped. Starts out with a long intro (hm, is that an intro?) and flows into a sad ballad-like song. Quite annoying, but listenable.
"Will And Mind" was previously featured on Aria's "Whom Are You With?". No, it's not entirely a cover. It was co-written by Bolshakov (who moved to Master) and Yelin (who stayed in Aria). The always-repeating chorus riff might get stuck in one's head for a long time.
Same goes with "Stand Up, Vanquish Fear", it was featured on that same Aria album and co-written by Bolshakov. This song takes the cake for the catchiest song on here (except the first one, again). Nice lyrics too.
"Save Me" is a great track. Not too much music-wise, but really catchy and epic. Always makes me feel better, because of its "positiviness" (but one should understand those russian lyrics to catch with it). Among the very best of this album.
"Who Beats Whom?" - the last actual track on here. Quite good, not as special or memorable as the others, also a lot shorter.
And in the end, depending on the album release, one can find a bonus live track "Here Metal Is Forged". This is like "Will And Mind" from that same Aria album. Quite a fun live track.

In general, this is a great cd. Definitely worth getting, for the genre maniacs especially.

Another highly overlooked speed metal classic - 82%

UltraBoris, August 8th, 2002

This is Master's debut album - it's not as thrashy as some of their subsequent releases, but is quite a memorable speed metal album. Master was formed by a few members of Aria (Alex Granovskiy and others that I forget right now) who wanted to play heavier and faster. It's quite apparent that they listened to Defenders of the Faith, Walls of Jericho, and Kruiz I - those 3 are highly apparent influences here.

There are a few songs here that are kinda throwaways, that prevent this album from being a total masterpiece. "Night Again" is 5 minutes of spooky horror music, that kinda gets old after 2 minutes. "Save Me" is pretty repetitive. Yep, the two slowest songs. Speed metal bands should stick to playing speed metal, because the remaining 7 songs are very cool.

There are two Aria covers here: Will and Mind, and Shield and Sword. Both are done heavier and faster. Stand Up Vanquish Fear is close enough to Jawbreaker in the verses that one can sing along with the lyrics half the time, but is nonetheless very nice. The highlight o the album is probably the title track "Master", with a nice thrash break in the middle.

Overall, a pretty strong album - a bit of filler but generally quite enjoyable.