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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!!

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