Review by Michael on December 19, 2023.
Master has always been a musical definition of anachronism for me. No matter which trend was hip, Paul Speckman stretched off his middle-finger to that and did his usual mixture between death and thrash. Sometimes it was more successful and sounded a little bit better and sometimes it was just okay but he didn't care about other people opinions and stayed focused on what he could do best. And now, in 2024, he is going to release his 15th (!) full-length album Saints Dispelled out via the Dutch Hammerheart Records which contains eight regular songs and two bonus tracks.
So what's new on Saints Dispelled? Nothing! But that is good and the musical quality of the music fell nicely on my half-deaf ears. What the listener can expect is a mixture of old-fashioned death-thrash with a lot of punk vibes which got stirred up together and out came a very tasty mixture of old-school metal. A song like 'Walk In The Footsteps Of Doom' makes so much fun listening to (and don't let yourself get led astray, the track has nothing to do with doom) because the breaks and the musical arrangements are pretty crazy and so much back to the 80s when punk and metal still were closer to each other. Fuck, I wanna go do some pogo right now! With 'The Wiseman' they even bring some oriental flair to the album. Introducing some slight Arabic motifs (and something that sounds like an old Nintendo game in the background) the song becomes a cool punkish-laden Autopsy-like track with a lot of doomy parts between speeding from bridge to bridge. The boundary between death and thrash is often very blurred so that the songs don't sound that one-dimensional. In 'Find Your Life' there is this low-tuned basic riff that clearly has its roots in death metal but the guitar solo is very much Slayer-inspired and the drums especially are galloping and pacing and quite different from death metal. What you can clearly state is that in each of the songs there is this very special rock n'roll attitude that sounds very entertaining. Check 'Marred And Diseased' – this is the Motörhead meets UFO song Master wrote. The song lives up from some really goddamn casual solo and a fantastic fuck off attitude. Damn, this solo – Doctor, Doctor!!!!
In my introduction I said that Master means anachronism form me – this doesn't only concern the music but also the production. You don't find any modern sounds here and it also feels like a throwback into the 80s / early 90s. The sound is a little bit muffled but it all feels pretty natural like nothing got readjusted during the recording process. This is a pretty good 15th album and shouldn't disappoint any Master fans. Maybe some more Speckman disciples can be caught with that.
Rating: 9 out of 101.04k