June 13, 2022

Master - On The Seventh Day God Created… Master (1991) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Thrash Metal, Death Metal
Label Number: NB 054 CD
☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 1991 Nuclear Blast
At the risk of sounding like the kind of musical neophobe upon which I heap regular scorn, they don’t make death metal like this anymore. The classic Florida bands really sketched out a thematic comfort zone for their art form which most of their followers have huddled safely in ever since- horror, gore, Satan, Lovecraft, and so on (Death themselves excepted, of course, but then this corroborates, rather than refutes, the opening sentence). For all that they might get banned in a dozen countries, there is nothing genuinely threatening about Cannibal Corpse album covers. Cool, yes, but that’s different. Master’s early records, though, have a bitter wrathfulness to them that I don’t think has found much parallel since. They dwell not on the fantastical, but instead focus contemptuously on the real world, and its failings. In this sense, On the Seventh Day God Created… feels more akin to Napalm Death than Deicide or Obituary.
Indeed, this album surfaced in 1991, the year after Harmony Corruption, with which I think there are definite parallels. Both albums were produced by Scott Burns, who imbued each with a similarly inhospitable sound without much depth or richness. Indeed, Speckmann later expressed dissatisfaction at Burns’s work here, but I think it fits perfectly. Because, much like Harmony Corruption, On the Seventh Day… is a stony-faced, austere record. Its furiously up-tempo, thrash-inspired riffs take on a grasping, frantic character because the dense sound leaves so little room for melodic warmth. This suits the tone of the record, because unlike the extravagantly adjectival likes of Morbid Angel, Master’s purpose is a simple and direct one: to spit derisively on the word around them. Again, much of this could also be said for Harmony Corruption.

We shouldn’t get too carried away with the comparison, however, because there is a lot else going on here as well. Specifically, we have the electrifying sound of some of Paul Masvidal’s best lead soloing; this is perhaps the most wonderfully straighforward records to claim his involvement. His garbled leads, constructed from spluttered melodic shapes and disjointed intervals, set him alongside Trey Azagthoth as creator of some of death metal's most distinctive lead vocabularies. His high-point here is Used, the solo from which is perhaps the most energising passage on the entire record. Given what was said about the production in the preceding paragraph, it’s telling that his lines here emerge so deliberately and distinctly from the body of the sound itself- like a match thrown on to dry paper.

The songs themselves are superb as well- for my money superior to those on their famous debut. Talking of contemptuous wrath, opener What Kind of God drips with it; this is classic death metal anti-religion rant framed not as theatrical occult egoizing, but head shaking horror at the folly of faith in the face of the world’s ills. Beginning with an earth-shaking clatter of percussion, it bursts into a blistering death-thrash gallop, Speckmann’s livid grunt, Masvidal's spasming outburst of notes. Demon is perhaps the most impressive feat of death metal riffing here, Aaron Nickeas’s whirring double-kick drumming locking in viciously with the inhumanly fast crunch of the rhythm guitar. And it is, of course, impossible not to mention America the Pitiful, the record’s ultimate expression of sardonic fury, turning a much-loved national melody into a rare moment of light-relief in its sheer mocking sarcasm.

Since this record Master have maintained a relatively low profile, churning out a steady supply of admirable death metal. I am listening to 2010’s The Human Machine as I write; one of my favourite records of the last few years, and one which transplants the same attitude into a a more modern-sounding production featuring a noticeably higher quantity of groove. But while On the Seventh Day God Created… in some ways sounds somewhat dated- particularly in terms of its production- it seethes with a spirit of both anger and invention that is all-too-rare today.

tags: master, on the seventh day god created master, 1991, flac,

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