MetalBite Review by Adam M on 2/20/2014
This is a platter of old school style death metal riffing and a great deal of energy. The amount of energy the band puts into this effort is the paramount aspect of the disc. The Swedish old-school heritage is present, but a thrash aspect similar to Havok’s recent material is also to be found. This band at least equals Havok easily, however, with a more exciting approach. The comparisons end there, though, because this is by far a more death-metal oriented release. The grimy style similar to Entombed is bolstered by enhanced production over those early offerings. Fear not, however, because this is straight up the same old style that made Left Hand Path such a fun listen. Recent fans of bands like Black Breath should be nicely enraptured by the riffs on this release as well. There is a groove nature that is what this type of death metal is famous for and is performed in fine fashion here. “Raise Your Sword” is an example of a song that is built upon a main riff and feeds from it. There are many songs that stick in your head with a catchiness and this is among them.
The album is the type that will make you want to hit replay, but there isn't anything overly astonishing on display either. The simplicity is what prevents The Witchhunt from being some truly phenomenal, but it is more than punishing and addictive enough to stay on your playlist for a while. Good song-writing and strong replay nature are heavily on display throughout this release.
MetalBite Review by Chris Pratl on 1/6/2018 3:40:53 PM
One thing I always understand when engaging Master is that I will always get the same quality of music. For some folks, this is not always a positive; some say that the last few Master releases sound all too similar without any distinct variation. While this might be true on the whole, what you do come to expect (and always receive) is a well-constructed and integral release with music that really sums up death metal goodness. The Witchhunt is a welcome addition to the long list of musical lessons main man Paul Speckmann has to teach.
After the solid effort in The New Elite, Speckmann still manages to incite and ignite the inner consciousness by delving into the political, social, and mental arenas with all of the subtly of a swarm of Asian hornets just nicking away at your skin and leaving quarter-sized welts. If you know Paul Speckmann at all, you know well his penchant for lyrical content that forces the inevitable catharsis within us that allows us to consider a life past the accepted 'norm'. For this longtime fan, The Witchhunt does nothing to imply that Master is losing a step in a long and storied career.
A fine element attributed to every Master release is the heavy, thick sound that manages to suffocate the willing listener. While the good production throughout adds to the 'death-metal-Sabbath' feel prevalent in every Master album from day one, it also manages to capture the spirit of days past when a too-crisp Dan Swano overcooking wasn't the accepted norm. Basically, what we have always gotten with the last decade or so of Master releases is a familiar friend bellowing and plundering through the ear drums with a rancorous assault worthy of mental absorption on every level. Musically, Master creates some old-school Chicago/Czech Republic style metal music that sort of harkens back to the early 80's traditional brand with a little more kick to the throat. As much as Master deserves the death metal tag, I'm not so sure segregating them to that one sub-genre is possible any longer. With the last few records, Master calls upon the death, speed, traditional and thrash genres with such careful perfection that fans of any of the aforementioned areas would most likely dig them. The groovy bass playing in the mid-section of “Manipulated to Exterminate” reminds me of seeing Master live in Chicago back in March and how the jam they did on stage just seemed to take on a life of its own. This band is far more versatile than some might credit them for, and hopefully that will change soon enough.
I once heard Speckmann's lyrics described as “true sardonic wit in music”, but I wouldn't agree with that simply based on the fact that a sardonic wit implies that there is a humorous overtone masking a bitter underlying message. With Master you get the plain truth in the most basic language possible; there simply is no humorous coating masking the issues beneath the surface. While many bands, metal or otherwise, force political ideals or agendas down the throats of unsuspecting minions, Speckmann takes great care to allow you to take his words to heart or bypass them in favor of the music; every musician wants his or her art to be heard and understood, but one thing I've always respected about Paul is that he pulls no punches and sugarcoats nothing. Master is a driving force within the metal underground (and in Chicago's proud metal pantheon) for many reasons, chief among them is the band's ability to stick to a formula both interesting and informative and make the fan base keep coming back for more.
The Witchhunt, as usual, tackles everything from cretins occupying space in governmental positions of power (“Remove the Clowns”) to the overwhelming, subjugating feelings of suicide (“Another Suicide”). In the sphere of bands that muddy the waters to make them appear deep, Speckmann uses the power of the pen to create distinct, yet simplistic visages of life in its most barren and frightening aspects. He's never shied away from painting such brutal truths on everyday canvases that any awakened mind can employ and ingest. While I'm not sure Paul would liken himself to a social commentator of sorts, he definitely tells it like it is, consequences and rose-colored eye wear be damned. His solid lineup in Alex Nejezchleba and Zdenek Pradlovský round out a trio well worthy of inclusion among the great three-pieces of our time such as Venom or Coroner.
The Witchhunt provides a full-on aggressive look at the workings of the world around us and calls out the imperfections and flat-out wrongs orchestrated on a blinded, oblivious herd. Sure, Master might sound like the same Master from The Spirit of the West or Slaves to Society, but after hearing those records and comparing them to the so-called metal contingent swelling the heads of mall kids everywhere in America, would you want anything less? At least with Master the quality will never dip past an anticipated and accepted level of greatness.