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Master - Collection of Souls
Review: During the middle period of its history, Master attempted to fuse the elements which influenced it, including the protest rock of the 1970s, the punk of the following decade, and the heavy metal which bridged those eras. The result is a more technically confident, precise album that nonetheless remains in a hybrid state because it cannot fully accept what it was to be death metal without giving up some attributes of those other styles. As alert readers may recall, this delighted its label, who in 1993 was attempting to find bands it could sell to both punk and metal audiences.
Unselfconscious in a temporary freedom from concern about style, the band generate powerful songs that use patterns of combining riffs and rhythms that are quintessentially metal but, from punk hardcore, craft their riffing from a fluid substrate of uniform pace of open strumming and roughly equal emphasis on all parts of the riff except the conclusion; a slower version of this type of riff is found on almost any 1980s hardcore album or Black Sabbath's "Lord of this World." These riffs achieve the vibrant liveliness of punk music without its deconstructive emphasis on the organization of songs, and would be considered powerful on any hardcore album; in fact, "Blinded Faith" shares a riff with the Misfits song "Demonomania." Where the hybrid proves less effective are the demonstrative breaks in which song titles or concepts are carefully enunciated, as in protest rock, and the bluesy wandering solos which kick out for late mid-song jams without much effective except to adulterate the impact of assembled song structure.
During the era in which Master evolved, there was no death metal as a style one could inherit; the dominant bands of the day were hybrids, and Master picked a direction in that category which preserves the resilient internal response of punk music with the basics of metal songwriting and cadence; on this album, they trimmed it back and then let it expand to include as much of their influences as possible. While some of this became excessive, the quality of song concept and execution surpasses most of their work both before and after, and the maturation of expression saves the listener from some of the more abrasive angst. A cover of AC/DC's "Jailbreak" graces the latter half as if to remind us that even in serious music, there should be a sense of fun. Although history pulled death metal into a different direction, for those who enjoy the elements of the genre in a slightly more elemental form this album will remain a pleasure.