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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.