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2000 Apprentices to Get the Manic Mosh Started - 90%

bayern, November 4th, 2017

This act appeared when three Aria members departed from the “operatic” camp in order to pursue more aggressive, thrashier ways of expression as thrash was gaining popularity worldwide. The debut was a really cool speed metal affair with timid attempts at actual thrash, those more brutal aspirations hindered by the presence of a couple of Aria tracks. Whatever nostalgic nods to the father band there still were, were irrevocably gone for the sophomore, an all-out classic thrash affair, the guys finding their place among the early thrash metal practitioners in their homeland like Korrozia Metala, Shah, D.I.V., and Klinika.

The 90’s entered with more technical/progressive demands, and the thrash metal brotherhood rushed to adapt to those new, more proficient sounds as a last resort to oppose to the oncoming groovy/aggro/post-thrashy currents. The Russian scene didn’t remain indifferent to them although in Master’s case they were reflected in a few adjustments here and there on the third showing “Talk of the Devil”, a really stylish affair which didn’t betray the old school canons, not even with a single note.

Deeper into the decade the numetal vogues had comfortably settled onto the metal field, bit for our Russian maniacs… sorry… masters the situation hasn’t changed much, and here they are striking with the album reviewed here, their contribution to the already extinct technical/progressive thrash wave. The overlong ambient/noise intro, quite reminiscent of the one from Onslaught’s “In Search of Sanity”, may stretch the nerves to the max, but “Beastie Generation” will surely make up for those wasted 2-min with some excellent intricate thrashing, the classic spirit propagated far’n wide with relentless fast-paced, blitzkrieg riffage. The title-track brings the winds of change, but in a very sophisticated, bizarrely technical manner, with absolutely ravishing bass performance akin to Cliff Burton (R.I.P.), the man dexterously assisting the shifting, overlapping hectic rhythms which dizzying alternation is close to the manic grandeur of the Mekong Delta surgical “cuttings” even, not to mention the frenetic declamatory chorus pulled handsomely by the mean-ish semi-clean vocalist.

From this moment onward it becomes ultimately hard for the listener to predict the next step, and “Lock Them in the Graves” again chooses the less orthodox ways of execution which initially are of the creepy mid-tempo variety before impetuous thrashing rises out of “the grave” all of a sudden, with more unnerving eclecticism springing up for a bit, this passage recalling their compatriots Legion’s meisterwerk “Knights of Cross” released the same year. “Burning in Hell” is an angry shredder with quirky escapades breaking the solid headbanging stride which also gets support from the cool screamy lead sections. More “screams” with “Screams of Pain” which introduces more melodic undercurrents, but there’s no moshing lost later as the band take care of business with a myriad of cleverly-constructed riff-formulas, with another nice catchy chorus added to the fore, the authoritative bass burps always reliant in the background. The latter take a life of their own on “They Are Just Like Us…”, but there are beautiful melodies, both from the riff and the lead department, to be savoured as well as really intriguing groovy developments the guys adroitly beating Coroner even in their own “grinning” game with these superb web-like pirouettes, the pressure building up to an engaging progressive piece of the dramatic semi-balladic type, its effect heightened by a great sprawling chorus. There can be no better continuation to this serious piece of music than “Punk Guys”, a frolic happy-go-lucky speedster which still contains a few more jarring riffs to ensure the less ordinary nature of this excellent recording which is finished with the cool short lead-driven instrumental “Go!”.

Fair play to Master for not missing out on any trends on the scene (better late than never), and for resisting to the groovy/post-thrashy urges. It’s not only about missing out, actually, as the band by all means possessed the requisite skills to pull it off, with some style at that, and place their name beside the ones from the visionary branch of their native scene like Valkyria, Koma, Aspid, Zhelezny Potok, Trizna, etc. Almost every single representative of this branch, however, had either split or had switched to other less attention-grabbing styles by the time the veterans released their next instalment, “Songs of the Dead”, a brooding introspective affair based on balladic/semi-balladic soundscapes with sudden corrosive thrashy carvings breaking the “idyll”; a cool dark opus with more prominent groovy showings...

And their last truly worthy effort, truth be told, as on subsequent releases the band dropped the musical proficiency, settling for a not very imaginative power/post-thrash mixture that they have been exercising, more or less faithfully, up to the present day. No raving maniacs, no wild parties, no untamed orgies anymore… the way of the masters has changed, and it may take quite a bit of time before they see the next batch of 2000 apprentices waiting at their door, gleaming with manic devotion.

Thrashin’ like they’ve thrashed before - 75%

naverhtrad, February 20th, 2012

What happened, Мастер? Too many days in Belgium, inhaling the heady atmosphere? Or too many nights in the nearby Netherlands, inhaling the heady… well, atmosphere? Or were you affected by the rudderless and floundering thrash movement in Europe and America as they moved in directions which all too many of us thrashers didn’t like, as all too many great bands were in the 1990’s? At any rate, it can’t truly be said that you lost your big Russian souls on this album (yet), in spite of the evolution of your sound and in spite of Maniac Party here not really topping the output on С Петлёй на Шее. That can’t really be said of the album art, though (which truly is, um… colourful). My sincere commendations to your artist.

That said, let’s talk about the music. One particularly troubling feature of the album is that the instrumental / sound-effects intros to each track have progressed from being interesting interludes and acceptable deviations on С Петлёй на Шее, into being an outright annoyance. The weird, soft ambient thirty-second prelude to ‘Beastie Generation’, the children playing and singing on the title track, the church bells on ‘Lock Them in Graves’, the motorcycle revving on ‘Punk Guys’… none of them really serves any useful purpose, none of them really enhances or has any discernible connexion with the sound or the lyrical matter of the tracks they are attached to. It’s a gimmick, and not an amusing one. That said, once you get around to the actual songs, you get a few hints at the same kind of quality to be heard on С Петлёй на Шее. Maniac Party carries forward more than its fair share of the aggression and anger that made С Петлёй на Шее so great, but the speed and the precision cleanliness have both been gimped a bit. One could justly say that this is less of a sniper shot of an album and more of a shotgun blast – still effective, but far less focussed, more dependent on the brute concussive force than on the exacting nature of the riffing and drumwork. Mikhail Seryshev is also going here more for mid-tenor, barking anger than for his higher-pitched screaming on the previous album (though we still get one good ‘beastie!’ at the end of ‘Beastie Generation’).

Don’t get me wrong, though, there’s still plenty to love about this album. The pounding momentum of ‘Beastie Generation’ has a tendency to stick in your head, even though the changing time signatures and all-over-the-place, chaotic structure of the song will leave the listener with a bizarre aftertaste. ‘Lock Them in Graves’ has one of the wickedest, grooviest riffs I’ve heard Мастер put out, though, so it’s obvious Мастер still has ample talent up their sleeves. The gang shouts are also pretty effective on said song, as well. ‘Burning in Hell (Civil War Disaster)’ and ‘Screams of Pain’ are almost – almost! – throwbacks in terms of sound (and that’s a very good thing!), in addition to being completely bereft of annoying intros. Blazing riffs and greater virtuosity on the drumming, as well as a very thrash-‘n’-roll vibe, add to the overall effect, and a glimpse at what perhaps might have been had not Мастер jumped on the groove-metal bandwagon with Песни Мёртвых and Лабиринт. ‘They Are Just Like Us’ and ‘Go’, sadly, are more of a glimpse of what is to come. Believe it or not, Alik Granovsky’s solos are actually somewhat starting to grow on me; ‘Time X’ is low-key, brooding, dark and minimalistic, much like ‘Амстердам’ on their prior album (and much more tolerable than the other interludes on this album by a long shot!).

One very interesting aspect of the album is that the lyrics have switched over entirely from criticism of the Soviet regime to sarcastic and often blistering criticism of its immediate successor. Pessimism and rage about the state of society underwrites practically every line of the English-language lyrics: horror at the rising wave of violent crime, political instability, oligarchy, gangster capitalism, rampant hedonism, ‘reforms’ at the barrels of guns and tanks, wars, unrest, the continued need for a dedicated resistance by the rebels of society. ‘They Are Just Like Us’ seems to be almost an admission of defeat: the ‘fallen democrats’ of the Yeltsin era are really just more of the ‘same old shit’, no better than the ideological Soviets they replaced, making all the same shady decisions, ignoring the people of Russia and keeping them outside in the cold – basically a big bucket of cold water over the shit-eating grins of Jeffrey Sachs and all of his Russian accomplices.

The greatest tracks on this album are without a doubt ‘Lock Them in Graves’ (minus the intro) and ‘Burning in Hell (Civil War Disaster)’, being as much as anything in good form on an album which is otherwise a bit schizophrenic. This is certainly worth a listen-through all the same; even if it isn’t anywhere near being a classic, it’s still very identifiably Мастер, damn it. Shouldn’t hate on it too much.

15 / 20

Welcome to the party! - 73%

SideShowDisaSter, September 15th, 2005

Master is probably one of the only thrash bands from Russia that ever drew any attention from the rest of the world, other than Shah. That’s probably due to the fact that you can’t find the damn albums anywhere BUT Russia! I’ll never understand why a European or American label never distributed these albums. This is very solid thrash injected with a bit of groove. Think Cowboys-era Pantera, but a little more angry and aggressive. Heavy chainsaw riffs proliferate this album with some nice shredding. The bass is present and pounding, capable of splitting your head open. I like the singers voice as he lends a nice bit of aggression to the music and a great deal of character to the band. His accent is distinct and really catches your ear. The highlight here, though, is the drums. Excellent fills, plenty of double bass kick, loads of crashes and tons of moshing! The guy is as precise as a machine!

It takes a bit for the album to get started as there is some kind of “horror” sounds thing that lasts 2 minutes before Beastie Generation comes roaring in. Crushing riffs and drumming go for a bit before BOOM! All out speed! The song itself is about 5 minutes long but intro takes it over the 7 minute mark. Unfortunately the trend is continued on Maniac Party as there is a 30 second intro of what sounds like a kindergarten classroom. The song itself is brutal, with a vicious thrash break through the chorus. I just wish they would kick right instead of these goofy intros.

Lock Them In The Graves starts off with church bells that carry on before sounding midnight. After a bit the guitars slowly start to build in a haunting fashion before unleashing a MEAN riff. Absolutely crushing riffs through the vocal lines and chorus. This is one case of the intro actually working! At around 2:45, prepare to be soundly beaten! The band put their foot down and begin pulverizing! After that, it’s back to that crushing riff.

Burning In Hell comes right in for a change. It’s a mostly mid-paced track with some thrash breaks thrown in, mainly at the chorus. Pretty solid track. After it comes one of my favorites, Screams Of Pain. This one is a blazing thrasher! I love that double bass kicking right smack in the middle of the chorus. A heavy as hell mid-paced bit builds up to the solo, then it’s back to the ass kicking. This one is followed by Time X. It happens to be a minute and a half bass solo. Kind of a throw away track really. Doesn’t hurt the album, but it doesn’t add much either.

They Are Just Like Us follows the bass solo. It’s a mid-paced track with some nice vocal lines in the chorus. The riffage leading up to the chorus is heavy as all get out! Very catchy track that can get stuck in your head!

Punk Guys starts off with another annoying intro, this time of someone riding up on a motorcycle. At least it’s followed by a scorching bit of thrash. Don’t know why they called it Punk Guys as there is no punk to be found here! Ah well, they can call it whatever they want when it sounds this good! At the end you get the sound of the motorcycle riding away.

All this leads up to Go! which is pretty short and sweet. Just a bit over a minute and half, this one has a bit of melody tossed in. Nice display of versatility from the band. This one is an instrumental like Time X. All in all a solid album with only one track that you could up and throw away.