Thursday, February 16, 2012

Master's Hammer - Vracejte Konce Na Místo : Album Review

The Czech experimental Black Metal legends, Master's Hammer made a comeback in 2009 with their album Mantras. After building up lot of anticipation, all their fans were let down by a sub-par release. Fast-forward 3 years to February 2012, and we're presented with Vracejte Konce Na Místo. The album, from the first minute shows the band's determination to restore their legacy as one of the most innovative Black Metal bands.

The best way to describe the album would be "a mix of band's past works". Hints of orchestral elements from The Jillemince Occultist can be heard, with the straight-forwardness of Ritual in some places. Slagry and Mantras were failed experiments, but everything they do on this album manages to blend flawlessly, and is executed well. The riffing, although not something that will get stuck in your head on the first listen, is immediately enjoyable. Heavy, thrashy rhythm guitars that play out with melodic lead guitars hint towards a Death/Thrash sound, rather than Black Metal, so complaints from clueless people about it not being "Black Metal enough" are expected. Guitar solos are added occasionally for good measure, avoiding a rhythm-dominated nature of the songs. Just like The Jillemince Occultist, the orchestral elements are played in an majestic way without being cheesy and add to the intricacy and complexity of the composition rather than creating an atmosphere, similar to what's heard in classical music. The folk elements are well-executed and arranged, to go in sync with the rest of the music, so it all fits well. The drums can tend to sound a little mechanical at times, but besides that annoyance, the drum patterns are laid out well and add a consistent beat throughout the songs. The vocals are similar to Master's Hammer's first 2 albums, and a fortunate change from the unbearable vocals heard in Mantras. In each song, the band shows it's compositional prowess, keeping the listener interested, and mixing elements from different forms of music seamlessly.

The overall sound of the album is similar to their older works, but heavier and cleaner, yet not too polished. The production job is befitting a Master's Hammer release since it emphasizes all the aspects which make the band stand out. The emphasis is not on a dark or grim atmosphere, but a heavy, majestic, yet aggressive Thrash-derived sound, which is so unique that it can no longer be placed under Black Metal, though it takes cues from their early Old School Black Metal sound.

I wouldn't recommend this to a person looking for typical Black Metal of any kind since it sways too much into an experimental direction, but I will certainly recommend it to anyone looking for something new.

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