Master - The Witchhunt
FDA Rekotz
Death Metal
11 songs (51' 47")
Release year: 2013
Reviewed by Andy

Master's career has spanned thirty years now, but they don't seem to be running out of song ideas despite the fact that they were there right at the start; they are one of the oldest death metal bands still in existence, an existence that has been inexplicably (and unfairly) ignored a lot of the time. Only last year they released The New Elite, and it's not even the end of 2013 and they've already released a new one, The Witchhunt. There's a somewhat different feel on this one though; while it's doubtful that anyone's ever been able to accuse Master of softening their old-school sound, it does feel like this one's actually somewhat more aggressive than the last album.

The album starts off with a thunderously brutal aural attack at the beginning of the title track that I immediately enjoyed, and the following (Plans of Hate and Another Suicide) follow a similar pattern. Even when they lay off some of the all-out blasting in favor of a clearer sound to give the verse a chance, it's still fierce. Towards the end of The Witchhunt, the hammering blastbeats get even meaner and faster, giving no chance for the listener to recover. Paul Speckmann's vocals continue to be deep and gurgly, a little like the sneering roar of Obituary's John Tardy but with a more rotten and subterranean sound, while his bass work combines very well with Alex Nejezchleba's tight but ferocious riffing. As a whole, the band never lets up on the assault, so the songs I consider the best are not necessarily the most brutal (they all are quite harsh), but rather the ones with the strongest riffs, like God of Thunder, which has a powerful verse riff, or Raise Your Sword, which starts out slightly slower, but speeds back up to the band's usual breakneck speed in no time at all, and boasts a staccato, tremolo-picked riff in the middle that is perfectly synchronized with the drumming.

Listeners who enjoyed the anarchistic lyrics of past albums will also like those on this one, which hold to the anti-establishment themes previously used, including a bit of grimly despairing narration on Speckmann's part, as well as shouted punk/thrash choruses enjoining the listener to fight the system. Though this is not music designed to be beautiful, with some extra listens one starts discovering how much melody Master stores away in some of the final tracks, something that I credit a bit to their 80s roots; Raise Your Sword has some of this, but so does Wipe Out the Aggressor, in which Speckmann's shouts get even more submerged in the sea of muck and filth that they sound like they emerged from. In fact, I'd say some of the best songs get saved for last: Manipulated to Exterminate and the preceding two have more melody and (I consider) better solos than anything else on the album, as well as a slightly calmer instrumental passage at the end of Manipulated to Exterminate.

The Witchhunt doesn't break new ground, really, nor do its makers seem to wish for such an outcome. In some bands, this might start sounding uninteresting, but Master does death metal so well, has such a distinctive sound, and produces such an aggressive but melodic album in The Witchhunt, that their latest offering remains quite a treat.

Killing Songs :
The Witchhunt, God of Thunder, Raise Your Sword, Manipulated to Exterminate
Andy quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Master that we have reviewed:
Master - An Epiphany of Hate reviewed by Andy and quoted 86 / 100
Master - On the Seventh Day God Created... Master reviewed by Charles and quoted CLASSIC
Master - The Human Machine reviewed by Goat and quoted 84 / 100
Master - Slaves to Society reviewed by Alex and quoted 80 / 100
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