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Desultor > Masters of Hate > Reviews > Demon Fang
Desultor - Masters of Hate

even the album art looks like it's about to explode - 84%

Demon Fang, November 20th, 2023

In 2011, Satan’s Host would unleash the monolithic By the Hands of the Devil, which combined the black/death metal that they were playing at that point with power metal – mainly through virtue of having Harry motherfucking Conklin on vocals! This was definitely a refreshing piece of metal, making a seemingly simple change that resulted in a large shift composition-wise. It looked like something that would get power metal out of the slump that it had been in since 2005… and yet, hardly anybody else really took after it. Really, the only other time I only heard this sound would be Desultor’s Masters of Hate – coming out only a year after By the Hands of the Devil – and even then, they did it in quite a different way from how Satan’s Host did it. Satan’s Host are big, imposing, ceremonious and subtly complex; Desultor, on the other hand, are more cerebral and in-your-face with their rapid-fire riffs and hyperblast percussion. Subtlety? Fuck that – give me 31 flavors of warp-speed, vaguely technical riffs and drumming that’s like Flo Mounier’s back on the first two Cryptopsy albums!

Which is funny when you consider the kind of vocals they got for this album. Rather than Harry Conklin’s testosterone-laden tones, Markus Joha prefers a more nasally approach. It definitely seems unfitting for what is basically tech death with heavy smatterings of thrash. Even if they add a layer of melodicism on top of the relatively more amelodic music, it’s like this big contrast of proggy thrash vocals (albeit not nearly as over the top in terms of having an overbearing presence… mostly) on top of thrashy death metal. But it works in this weirdly dystopic way, like the wailing of a desperate soul combating the overwhelming force of tremolos and Nevermore-on-meth death/thrash riffs. As a result, you end up with two simultaneous rhythms – the laser-precision riffing and blasting in one ear, and the desperately wailing vocals in the other. Whether it’s “Black Monday” which truly opens the album up with utter insanity or “Another World” having it sound like he’s drifting away amidst the chaos, Markus’ vocal inflections both contrast the music and accentuate the overall mood splendidly.

Taking out the ambient intro, outro and interlude – the latter certainly feeling like a break from it all – it’s barely under a half-hour of all guns blazing, balls out fuckin’ mayhem! It does make the album a rather entertaining listen, as its overall intensity is maintained throughout the album. Markus’ machine gun riffing hardly lets up, only playing a mid-paced riff here and there to build up to a more explosive one. Same sort of thing for the percussion – Michael’s not letting you off too easily with only moderately invigorating drumming because you know there’s another set of blast beats on the way. Songs like “Denied” and “The Luxury of Pain” especially like to push and pull between these two sets of rhythms, and it helps to keep things fresh throughout. But let’s be real, “Division Insane” is the highlight of the album precisely because it showcases all these elements with such aplomb. The main riff is like the Shredder on bathsalts, the opening blasts wouldn’t be that far out of place on a grind album, and the vocals vacillate between frustrated shouts and anguished wailing – I guess you could say it is the division insane telling us we’ll never be desultors.

Considering how much they put into developing the sound even here, Desultor were not here to mess around. Like, it wouldn’t be enough to just have death metal instrumentals underneath somewhat nasally vocals; this duo certainly knew how to make this really make an impression. There’s dynamic songwriting throughout that takes what would be some rather simple compositions and make them fucking explode, and that’s basically Masters of Hate in summary – an explosive bit of tech power/thrash/death metal that’s arguably more unique in 2023 than it was in 2012. Quite the hidden gem we got here, ladies and gentlemen!