Slaves To Society (Reissue)
posted on 9/2008 By:
Listening to Slaves To Society makes me wonder why I don’t listen to Master more often than I do. I like them—I’ve liked them for years—and they’re the type of band that I would quickly and heartily recommend. "Oh, you like early Death and Slayer? You should totally check out Master." But yet, when it comes down to it, as great as I know this band is, I don’t practice what I preach as often as I should—when I get home at night, when it’s my time to spin what I want to, I only rarely listen to Master. Instead, more often than not, I crank up one of the legions of bands directly and unabashedly inspired by Master. I don’t know why. I don’t have an excuse. That’s just how it goes.
I will say this, though: in a perfect world, the record-consuming public would be as excited about a new Master record as they are about Death Magnetic or Warbringer or whatever banality Trivium will unleash upon us soon. For twenty-five years, Master-mind Paul Speckmann and his rotating cast of cohorts have brought us some absolutely vicious death/thrash (although Faith Is In Season was admittedly crap). Having relocated from Chicago to the Czech Republic some years back, Speckmann has partnered up with a new guitarist and drummer (Alex Nejezchleba and Zdenek Pradlovsky, respectively) and released this record in its earliest form on Twilight Records in 2007. A year later, for those of you who can’t or won’t subtract, the kind folks at Ibex Moon are now bringing Slaves To Society back around, and doing so with four bonus tracks to boot. (Ibex Moon founder and Incantation mainstay John McEntee is a Master fan.) Considering that many of you likely missed this one the first time around (as I did), I say bless 'em for putting it back out there.
Slaves continues Master's track record of quality proto-death, with Speckmann's righteous indignation at a variety of socio-political ills fueling the lyrical fires and his arsenal of Slayer-isms driving the riff train. (Stick around, kids--I'll use some more ridiculous expressions in a second...) His gruff Discharge-infused bellow is intact. When he spits, "I hate everyone and I hate everything" on "The Room With Views," I totally believe him because if there's one word that comes to mind when I think of Paul Speckmann it's "pissed-off."
Opening with the killer twisting riff of "The Final Skull," Slaves To Society rips through eleven tracks in fifty-five minutes, occasionally slowing down but never letting up. Mid-tempo moments like those in the chugging "The Darkest Age" and the swaggering "The Last Chapter" deviate from the d-beat-heavy thrash of the remainder of the record, but nothing in either song is any less ferocious than what lies within their compatriots. The production of Slaves is raw enough and yet still clear—dirty enough to make you feel good ‘n’ grimy but possessing enough sonic clarity to hear the guitar riffs as they whip past. And speaking of riffs, these are killer—not tech-ish wankfests, just simple fast-paced tremolo-picked thrash riffs, with the occasional foray into a more punkish territory. (Think Sodom and early, non-progressive Schuldiner.) No surprises, no punches pulled, no showboating—just awesomeness. The bonus tracks are demos from the previous record, Four More Years Of Terror—raw productions of an already raw sound, but blistering and venomous even in embryonic form.
Slaves To Society is a solid entry into a catalog filled with good metal. Paul Speckmann knows what he’s doing. He helped build extreme metal, and he deserves more attention from both you and me. Fans of quality thrashing death metal, particularly the old-school stuff, should waste no time in tracking this one down.
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