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Oh hey, this band is still alive! - 60%

Gas_Snake, July 6th, 2020

This, to be honest, came out of nowhere. This band has had no noteworthy releases since 1994, no releases at all in the last ten years, and then suddenly this album dropped - five years in the making. Anyway...

Master were one of the first thrash metal bands to come out of the Soviet Union. While they did play a big role in the Soviet metal scene, their catalogue didn't amount to anything truly great. At their best, they simply played decent thrash similar to the likes of Metallica and Sepultura, and at worst (on everything past "Maniac Party") they succumbed fully to the boring monotony of groove metal, though on their last two albums they did attempt to combine it with the pomp and atmospheric devices of power metal. This album is a combination of those two sounds, executed well enough to place it into the better half of their discography.

Here, Master finally returned to the sound of thrash metal, but it is joined by a significant trad/power metal influence. There are plenty of pompous choruses and melodic leads to be found here, bringing modern Kreator or Artillery to mind. Unfortunately, the vocals do not fit the music very well. Vocalist Alexander "Lexx" Kravchenko has a very gritty voice, like a higher-pitched Chuck Billy. He does not contribute many soaring vocal melodies, nor does he attempt to stretch his range.

The instrumental work is better, but not by much. Most of the guitar work is comprised of stock thrash riffs that are mere derivatives of what was written decades ago, such as in "Peacemaker" and "Rat Paradise". The latter track in particular has an unbelievably generic gallop in the verse. Others, like "Magic" and "Demon Of Time" are driven by boring grooves and cheesy choruses that fail to elicit any emotions other than boredom and disappointment.

There are a few winners here, though. The opener "Old Man" has a maddening, dynamic rhythm in between its verses, joined by manic lead work and references to past lyrics of the band to create a rousing throwback to past glory. "Evil Age" is my favorite track here, introduced by an epic melodic escalation and galloping bass line that soon explodes into the most energetic riffing on the album. "Edge" is the obligatory bass solo; it's been a tradition for Master to have a dedicated bass-driven instrumental track on each album, and this one delivers with desperate rhythms and constantly shifting guitar work. The stoner rock riffing in "Catwoman" also caught me completely off-guard, and while it doesn't indicate any higher quality, it does make it one of the more memorable tracks on the album. I could do without the retarded Korn groove towards the end, though.

To sum up my feelings about this album, it's a decent one when looked at in a vacuum, and a pretty good one for its place in Master's catalogue. It can be viewed as a return to form for the band, but on its own merits it still isn't that great. If you happen to be a diehard fan of this band, you should probably acquire this, as it is overall one of their better albums. However, these guys just don't have the memorability of the artists that influenced them. If you want quality thrash metal and care not for nostalgia, stick to better bands, such as the aforementioned Kreator or Artillery.