Posted by: Necci – Jul 18, 2012
With the renewed interest in the more stripped-down, primitive strains of metal that has come about in the past few years, it's hard to conceive of a better time for a band like Master to release a new album. Since 1983, the band has been plugging away without ever really altering much in their approach, offering album after album of the sort of death metal that was done best in the mid-80s, the sort of thing that took the streamlined aggression of thrash metal's heaviest strains – Possessed and Kreator come to mind – with the gnarled quasi-catchiness of Venom and an anti-authoritarian lyrical stance that was closer to early hardcore than most death metal's gore obsessions. They rarely reached the speed and never the technicality that the genre would later embrace, and thankfully shied away from a lot of the style's tired slasher lyrics, but they have consistently added to a body of work that's distinctly theirs.
The New Elite is no exception. It starts at a brisk clip and largely stays with it for the album's entirety, only occasionally dipping into a more mid-paced gallop. The lyrics additionally offer few variations, tending to fit with the caustic, socially critical style they've developed over the decades. Given the polarized political climate, sentiments like “you must fight the fucking machine” seem a little broad. But anybody approaching a band like Master with any expectation of subtlety or nuance couldn't have found a less appropriate band on which to project their desires. Not that their bluntness is a bad thing – any more intricacy could easily undermine their music's power and, when it comes down to it, it's good to hear bands like this engaging the world's iniquities rather than harping on the same slasher shit that most death metal can't seem to move past (or worse yet, all the self-pitying bullshit a lot of younger bands tend to shovel on their music).
But with their newest album, Master give Bolt Thrower and Obituary a run for their money in terms of coming off as the death metal version of AC/DC – unsurprising and monolithic in their aesthetic, but solid and continually enjoyable regardless. There's not really much noticeable evolution in The New Elite, but anybody who's followed Master at all won't be disappointed, just as anybody who's into unadulterated, real-deal metal by serious lifers won't find a single thing about which to complain. Very few bands can rip this hard after thirty years in the game, but Master seem like they can't help but deliver, that solid, thrashy death metal is the only thing they are capable of, and as a result they will do it (pardon) masterfully.
By Graham Scala