The Human Machine
posted on 5/2010 By:
Slaves To Society rekindled my interest in Master, a fandom that had lain dormant for a few years as the band had slipped off my radar. That ripping little record made my Top Ten of 2008 and helped put this Chicago-to-Czech Republic, rabid-and-ragged death metal trio back on my radar, and I'm very thankful for that. While not as immediate or quite as satisfying as Slaves, The Human Machine is by means a slouch. It's a great record in its own right--Master is nothing if not dependable, and they’re still as vicious as they ever were, still as venomous as any of their venerable peers.
Opening with the staccato intro to the title track, The Human Machine wastes no time in establishing its Master-ful take on death metal—a quick riff and then tremolo-picked descending runs mirror the vocal lines, with the same staccato section repeated as a bridge beneath lyrics espousing personal empowerment and removing “the tyrants from their lairs.” Subsequent tracks like “It’s What Your Country Can Do For You” and “Suppress Free Thinking” show that Paul Speckmann is as pissed as usual—forever railing against the system, against governments and society and religion, calling for freedom of thought and being in a world largely devoid of both. While “What Your Country Can Do” is straight-ahead Master in lyrical inspiration, it’s also the album’s weakest track and offers something of a minor hurdle in its placement as track number two. Over repeated listens, I’ve found The Human Machine to be reverse-loaded; its best tracks come in the latter half: the imminently headbangable “Worship The Sun,” the ferocious “Faceless Victims Expelled,” and the closing track, “Impale To Kill,” which has risen to my top spot of all these tunes.
The production is punchier than that of Slaves, just a bit crisper and louder, and still with a gnarly edgy tone to Alex Nejezchleba’s guitars that I particularly love. The performances are nearly perfect in their simplicity—Master isn’t a band that spins circles around you; they’re content to bludgeon in a more direct manner, balancing the tremolo-picking with a few rhythmic, chunky bits. (It’s those broken-down moments in “Country” that also knock my ears slightly off-track and sink that particular song for me.) Generally speaking, these riffs are given breathing room—they’re not suffocating or suffocated; they’re slicing, sharp and simple.
All in, The Human Machine isn’t anything outside the norm for Master, but Paul Speckmann and I wouldn’t have it any other way. They’ve been doing this for twenty-five years, people, and at this point, you either dig it or you don’t. More importantly than any lack of great progression, The Human Machine is another extreme metal success in a career mostly filled with them, another damn fun record from a band that helped to lay the foundation for the whole proverbial shebang and still has enough fire and fury to keep burning, a quarter-century later. All hail Master, for they are truly masters, indeed.
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