Master: The Witchhunt

Veteran death metal deviants make a swift but solid return

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It’s just over a year since Master’s last album was unleashed, which would suggest a pretty healthy work ethic within the Master camp. Predictably, not much has changed in that short time – indeed, it’s probably unnecessary to go into too much detail listing the exact musical characteristics of the record since Master long ago formulated their musical template and have rarely deviated from it.

Suffice to say the songs are still built upon a punky/crusty take on death metal, a nicely dynamic mix of tempos, some furious guitar work and Paul Speckmann’s distinctively vomitous vocals. What sets this apart from so much of the US death metal scene is quite simply its organic feeling and depraved, aggressive spirit. Everything here feels emotionally charged rather than by-the-numbers, and above all the performance itself always feels real.

That’s not to say that this is a masterpiece: The Witchhunt is not without its filler moments and comparisons to last year’s The New Elite are likely to treat it unfavourably. Nonetheless, it’s a ferocious enough effort and certainly offers another hit of no-frills, above average extreme metal.