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Review: Master 'The Witchhunt'

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The revitalized death metal scene has been something to talk about in the last couple of years, considering that many new bands are dropping the math and the glossiness in exchange for a much more direct and deadly approach. Master beat virtually everybody to the punch in anthropological terms; the material that became the first Master album in 1990 was mostly created six years prior, which effectively means that Paul Speckmann's brainchild was the first of its kind.

23 years and thousands of death metal albums later, Master continues stand alone and cut a violent swath through the underground with their latest, titled The Witchhunt. Speckmann remains steadfast in his message an execution, which means lots of tooth social commentary and rapid-fire riffing. As usual, the vocals have a bile-choked quality that created a violent and ravenous air as the frontman demands answers to the increasing difficult questions that plague the Western world - how did this happen? Who's to blame? When will the nightmare end, and will it be worth living through? Such is the nature of Master, a metal band with a punk soul. While social issues may not be the first thing the average fan looks for in a death metal album, but the dire prognostications are just as morbid as any Obituary song, and the chunky riffs carry it the rest of the way.

Bands like Master are often a challenge to review, mainly because they deal in reliable consistency; why reinvent the wheel when the one you already have gets you down the road? The only real difference between The Witchhunt and the band's other recent releases is that there are different songs, and the production has shifted around in favor of an increasingly tightened approach that serves the material just fine.

Just about every track is a high-powered grabber, though the anxious tension of "Another Suicide" and relentless double-bass on "God of Thunder" (not the KISS song) are noteworthy standouts. Each song is designed for efficiency and efficacy, with plenty of punchy hooks and no filler or frills to break the momentum. Speckmann himself has rightfully called his music "caveman metal", though we're talking about the evolved variety that has already mastered fire and become a threat to the rest of the world.

In all, this album is another good effort from one of the most durable, unkillable names in the pages of metal lore. If you like it fast, tough, and angry, then Master has exactly what you need. The witchhunt is on, and you might be next!

For more info: The Witchhunt is out now on FDA Rekotz

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