by Brian Krasman
Death metal elder statesmen Master haven’t exactly pulled punches during their nearly three decades together. Like, did you see the cover of 2007’s “Slaves to Society”? Yeah.
But in an era where so much “death metal” is overproduced, sanitized or mixed with something that ends in “core,” it’s nice to have something as ugly and nasty as Master. It’ll put hair on your chest. It’ll scare all the kiddies in the Suicide Silence shirts. Hell, it’ll damn near leave them kicking and screaming their way back to Hot Topic for some dolled-up, faux-frightening comfort. Master’s latest effort “The Human Machine” (out on Pulverised) is more of the veiny, bruising bloodbaths we’ve come to expect from these fellows, but with a little extra crust to boot!
The mix of classic death metal with good, honest thrashing immediately greets listeners on Master’s 10th studio offering and sets it apart from most in its genre. There’s not an effort to be pristine or polished, as teeth are ground and skin is pierced right from the get go as the title track sets the crushing tone. “It’s What Your Country Can Do for You” lets frontman/bassist Paul Speckmann release his cynicism and frustration, as he insists, “You are a machine working for the government,” which is just one accusation in a furious tirade that makes your average street corner picketer sound like a Kindergartener.
“Suppress Free Thinking” isn’t terribly hard to decipher from its title, and its fiery drum attack courtesy of Zdenek Pradlovsky leaves welts; “Worship the Sun” sounds like a companion piece of sorts, at least musically, to Slayer’s classic track “Raining Blood”; and “The Lack of Space” even hints at a High on Fire/Motorheads stoner groove.
No angular haircuts, no clean vocals, no tight ladies jeans. Master is death metal’s seamy underbelly, a blast of wickedness from the genre’s past that isn’t terribly pleasing to look at, but whose idea was it to smooth out the appearance anyway? “The Human Machine” is a monster here to restore the idea that the world’s most grotesque and horrifying subject matter has a place to unfurl itself and those of us who indulge can do so without worrying if a hair’s out of place.