It's a good time to be a death/thrash fan, and what better way is there to start the new year off right with the return of Master. This band needs no introduction, but let's usher in some quick facts for those who are unfamiliar. Master took shape in the early 80's under the band name of War Cry, when bassist Paul Speckmann and drummer Bill Schmidt got together to play aggressive metal in the vein of Venom, Motorhead and Slayer. Eventually, the name of the band was changed to Death Strike and then finally the duo settled on Master after some drama between the two musicians was put to rest. Joining them to complete the line-up was guitarist Chris Mittleburn and the rest was history.
Master has been very prolific over the years; releasing twelve studio albums and laying a sonic beat down wherever they played live. Speckmann is the one true constant player in the band despite a plethora of line-up changes over time. Joining him is newcomer Peter Bajci on drums and longtime guitarist Alex Nejezchleba (who had a previous stint in Deathstrike) and has been playing in the band since 2005.
Their last release Vindictive Miscreant (2018) was nothing but dirty-fuelled carnage and stood pat on delivering the brutality. So after 5 long years, Speckmann and company are back with album unlucky number thirteen – Saints Dispelled.
The first track starts out with a meaty riff, along with a guttural scream courtesy of Speckmann. "Destruction in June" is the name of the song and it hits hard and fast and chugs at a bestial pace. It's clear from the start Master means business and I don't think this album is going to disappoint. They really know how to blend the heaviness of death metal and spice it up with the relentless pacing of thrash metal to give you a unique take on both genres. I do like the mosh worthy stomping pace of "Walk in the Footsteps of Doom" and find Speckmann's vocal delivery barfed out and timed in a way to accentuate certain words. The music blisters along into a groovy heaviness that makes this another fine little ditty.
The title track "Saints Dispelled" is short, but packs a punch on intensity and riffing quality. It's not bad, but not as memorable as the first two tracks. You get drums aplenty and ear shattering fills starting out "Minds Under Pressure" that set the monstrous tone for a track that doesn't drag. Instead you get a chorus that is memorable and perfectly timed with the relentless drumming of Peter Bajci. His energy attacking the kit is off the chart and he brings a sped-up punky thrash-gallop style to the proceedings. But on the following track, "Find your Life" sees the lead work standing out and offering up a riff that is music to my ears. I detect a vintage Slayer vibe here, and it helps to drive the song.
"Married and Diseased" is a rousing number with a quirky pace and blistering solo to boot. The song picks up the intensity close to the end and could easily be another mosh-pit favourite. "The Wiseman" starts out acoustically and is joined by a guitar drone before erupting into a kick-ass tune, again with a satisfying solo and a steady-as-fuck approach overall. The final number "Wizard of Evil" stomps out of the gate and hammers home one heck of a song. The riffs bristle at a torrid pace and the lyrics are a fun stab at chronicling the predatory nature of an evil wizard. What's not to like in this song?
I can't think of any reason to not like this record overall. Master as a band are quite unique in vocals and sound. There's some terrific solos here; hell Speckmann alone contributes two bass solos on Minds Under Pressure so you know his bass playing is always front and centre. I read somewhere that the previous record was a return to form album, but I'm going to one up that by saying this is a better Master record. If we did a ranking of the Master discography I feel this record would rank very high in my list.
This is a svelte release; clocking in about thirty-seven minutes and some loose change. Incidentally though, there are two bonus tracks just on the CD release bringing this to about fifty minutes worth of music. Apparently the vinyl and cassette will not include the bonus tracks. Not sure what is up with that, but I wanted to let you all know regardless.
Again, this band is legendary on the death/thrash scene, so don't hesitate on picking this up. Master do what Master do best, so kneel before them and feel their wrath.
Top songs: Destruction in June, Walk in the Footsteps of Doom, Minds Under Pressure, Wizard of Evil
I'm giving this a solid 9 skulls.
Kenneth Gallant, HMS