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In Control! - 81%

quacktheripper, November 18th, 2007

Master will go down in death metal annals, along with Monstrosity and Deceased as perhaps the band that was most undeservedly under-appreciated by the hordes subscribing to said form of music. Speckmann's influence on the death metal of the late '80s was quite possibly as profound as any allegiance that has been sworn to Possessed, Slayer and early Death. Abomination, Death Strike, Funeral Bitch and consequently, Master have played no small part in forging death metal, then in its tumultuous adolescence, into the malignant force that it became in the early '90s. Grudgingly, I will concede that Speckmann too had his troughs, the mid '90s yielding a couple of nondescript slabs of plastic that bafflingly had the Master logo slapped onto them. However, Speckmann was far from out. A couple of line-up changes were made, the early '80s Discharge discography was pushed back into the tape recorder and a few more feet of beard added. The end result of a revitalized Master was 2005's "almost there" effort Four More Years Of Terror. The past 2 years seem to have been spent by Paul Speckmann (bass/vocals), Alex Nejezchleba (guitars) and Zdenek Pradlovsky in honing the portentous potential of Four More Years of Terror into a brutally precise and effective murder weapon.

Slaves To Society is easily Master's best album since 1991's On the Seventh Day God Created...Master. Everything that constituted classic Master is back on Slaves To Society, from the dizzying velocity of the riffs hewn from the ripest orchards of the hardcore/crossover movement of the '80s (primarily Discharge and the Cro-Mags), to Speckmann's razor edged, bile-spewing vocal delivery and cantankerous, socio-politically charged lyrical work. No time is wasted in iterating the course of action on this album, with The Final Skull's opening riff straightaway summoning the corpses of the '80s crossover giants to do their hyperspeed bidding. It's a declaration, both of intent and of return, by Speckmann and Co. The rest of the album follows through magnificently, pushing already insane levels of adrenaline soaked metal mania into overdrive. The title track (with a slight modern touch ala gratuitous use of the bane of Unique Leader-era death metal, the pinch harmonic, on the main riff), signals the start of the middle of the album and pushes it immediately into mosh territory. The solos are much better thought out and played out than any other Master album I can remember, including the S/T. The production on this album is brilliant, with fat guitar tones, THE best bass sound in any Master album ever (alas, Speckmann has confirmed what we always knew but only spoke of only in hushed tones.And that ofcourse is that, in Speckmann's own words "Burns was a homo when it came to bass") and a delectably organic drum tone. The songs get a bit longer towards the end of the album and exhibit the more distinct death metal face of Master's music, as compared to the snarling hardcore overtones of the preceding material in the album. Remnants of Hate, The Last Chapter and World Police (the last being the longest track on the album at 6:04) all display the kind of misanthropic, blasting, Venom and Slayer born thrash-taken-to-the-next-level riffing that was prevelant on Unreleased 1985 Album era Master, and that made Master the force-du-jour among discerning death metal fans of the late '80s.

In essence, this is a return of unprecedentedly ass owning proportions from Master. And while Speckmann may never attain the stature of a Chuck Schuldiner or the notoriety of a Dave Vincent, he will continue to reign supreme in the memoirs of true death metal connoissuers as one of the most enduring legends of the genre. A must have!!

Originally written for [url][/url]

Master does it again - 70%

MrVJ, September 18th, 2007

"I've been on a large old-school death metal kick lately, and I've always been a fan of the Chicago band called Master, but I was incredibly stoked when their newest album “Slaves To Society” came out. Paul Speckmann (ex-Speckmann, ex-Walpurgisnacht, ex-Death Strike) has said that Master has always been a “life” band, not always motivated by politics and death, and while it may seem that way, Master is indeed a “life” band in its fullest. The listener is constantly challenged to think for themselves, to stand up and fight, and just generally not take any flack. “Slaves To Society” continues to follow that trend and does it swimmingly, making you listen to the bands message while headbanging along the way.

It always appeared to me that Paul also had deep roots in the Czech Republic metal scene, considering that he has been in many bands there and even uses some very talented Czech's, Alex “93” Nejezchleba (Shaark, ex-Mamut) on guitar and Zdenek Pradlovsky (Shaark) on drum duty. What you'd expect from Master is all here. The intense and groovy riffs, the nice polka-death metal drumming, the harsh yet distinguishable vocals and the general atmosphere of hatred and oppression. Paul still loves to rhyme his lyrics as much as a rapper, but dear god does he create some catchy moments with the rest of the music.

The only thing that bothers me about this album is that there isn't really that much to say about it. It's classic Master and that's about it, but it sure does make me think about how the rest of the world just buckles under pressure from their respective societies to conform, and if that was Master's original intent, then they've greatly succeeded at this point. I will say though that the songs “The Final Skull”, “Slaves To Society” and “Anarchy Nearly Lost” are my favorite songs on the album. Each one of those songs are filled with delicious and meaty riffs that only Master is known for and I hope it continues that way.

Bottom line is that this album isn't exceptional nor is it just “okay”, but with it being Master it's definitely worth picking up, even for just those three songs mentioned above. Paul knows exactly what he wants to do with the band, and that's something to admire, but sometimes I just wish that he'd change it up once in a while. Nevertheless, “Slaves To Society” is an entertaining yet predictable listen."

Originally written for Metal

Old School Death Metal at its best!!! - 89%

Deranged, June 28th, 2007

One of the first bands in death metal is back. It’s really a shame how little people know of this band, because they are really a pioneering band of the genre. Every offering of Master is great, but this one really takes me back to the first time I heard On the Seventh Day, God Created….Master.

The extremely heavy riffs are what I noticed right away. This guy may not be as good as Paul Masvidal, but he sure can write same damn heavy riffs. The solo on The Final Skull is just spectacular. I’ll have to see him live to determine how good he really is, but from listening to this, I’d say he’s a really talented guitarist.

Paul Speckmann’s vocals are amazing as usual, however it is sounding like he is starting to lose his voice. The vocals are still pretty deep and guttural, but not as much as on their earlier albums. However they are only slightly different.

The drumming on this album is phenomenal. Some amazing sounding blast beats. The intro to The Darkest Ages, is just drumming, and it is like a drum solo, and a good one at that. But what really turned me on to this album is the atmosphere that it puts off. The production is done so well. It’s like I’m listening to an album that came out in ’89. As I said before, fans of the first couple Master albums should really check this out. I’ve been listening to it for a couple months now and I am still not tiring of it. Any fan of death metal should love this album!!

Stand-out tracks: The Final Skull, The Darkest Age, World Police, and The Last Chapter