Master, lead by singer and bassist Paul Speckman, is often considered one of the forerunners of death metal alongside Death and Possessed. Chicago-based Speckman started out in Motörhead-influenced bands like White Cross (where he only sang) and War Cry before moving to even more aggressive sounds. Speckman and War Cry drummer Bill Schmidt formed Master in 1983 and began demoing material. War Cry appeared on Metal Massacre IV. Master was eventually offered a deal with Combat Records (Death), but refused given the weakness of the terms. Master was utilizing the service of manager Kim Fowley (Runaways) at this time and legend has it that Foley had derided the Combat Records offer. Speckman would form Death Strike and would soon regroup with Schmidt. This band would soon be renamed Master in honour of the extreme material. Death Strike also played Master songs. All the aforementioned bands would eventually see music released. Assault was renamed Funeral Bitch.
The band eventually signed with Germany’s Nuclear Blast and issued its debut album. Mitch Harris of Napalm Death recommended the group to the German label. The label also issued an Abomination/Master split around the same time and would eventually pick up Speckman’s Death Strike and solo project. Te label dropped Master after three albums - Speckman contends the label never paid his royalties - and Speckman drifted through a number of fledgling labels before packing up and moving to Czech Republic. The band had, by now, toured with acts like Unleashed, Paradise Lost and Sepultura. Earlier, he had left Chicago for Phoenix in the desert and later to West Hollywood. Speckman and Krabathor leader Krystof would trade bands and positions for a while in the '90s. Krabathor and Master had toured Europe together. 2000’s Live In Mexico City is the audio version of the full-length video with the same name.
Krabathor members and Speckman formed a project in 2000 called Martyr. Master appeared at Fuck The Commerce VII in 2004 with the likes of Obituary and Incantation. Displeased Records began reissuing Master albums in 2007. Master returned to the USA for a series of shows after a ten-year absence. Master signed to Pulverised Records in 2009. Paul Speckmann and co. were set to commence work on new material for a full-length album in August with the new album being completed at the end of 2009. The album was called The Human Machine and was supported by a Latin American tour.
Master has featured an array of different musicians, both in Europe and the USA, over the years. Many were shared with Death Strike (early) and Krabathor (later). Only Paul Speckman has been constant. The band’s name was inspired by Black Sabbath’s 1971 album, Master Of Reality. Master began a five-week South American tour, called Masters Of Hate Tour, on January 14th of 2010. Support came from Brazil’s Predator and Britain’s After Death. In the meantime, Master was recording a new album. Master announced a 2011 U.S. headlining tour. The tour would commence on March 1st in Fredrick, Maryland and run through over a month's worth of dates before coming to a close on April 3rd in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The band was to be joined by Los Angeles’ Lightning Sword Of Death and Ohio thrashers Mobile Death Camp except the tour was cancelled when upon arriving in the United States the non-American members (Alex Nejezchleba - Guitar and Zdenek Pradlovsky - Drums) of the act were denied entry into the United States Of America at the Detroit airport.
In 2012, Paul Speckman’s Master completed work on its eleventh studio offering. Entitled The New Elite, the 11-tracks were recorded at Shaark Studios and features cover art by German graphic designer Mark Bridgeman. Sacrificial Slaughter was confirmed to join Master for the North American Detonation Tour, which was set to take place in March of 2013. Master and Dehuman kicked off the Omens Of Death European tour during which their new split, Decay Into Inferior Conditions, would be available. The band signed a deal with Transcending Obscurity Records in 2018. The band’s next album, Vindictive Miscreant, was to be released later that year.
MASTER - Same - DISPLEASED
Master has existed since 1983 or so and despite an original release date of 1990 for this debut, the songs stem from the band’s formative years. The album is vicious and violent and, in fact, I had forgotten how raucous and noisy it is. Having first picked it up at a Toronto record store called The Record Peddler fifteen or so years ago it must be a testament to Master’s forerunner status that material written in the mid-1980s was released in 1990 and reissued in 2008. Displeased Records is also showing some respect to the band and album (and itself and the metal scene in the process) by furnishing the reissue with new notes and a DVD.
Master is a noisy early proto-death metal record with barking vocals courtesy of Paul 'son of Cronos' Speckmann. The group’s sound brings names like Slaughter, Venom and very early Death to mind. The harsh production is a fit for the pounding music and noise leads emanating from the guitars. Cover versions are a dime a dozen, but Master’s adaptation of Black Sabbath’s Children of The Grave adds a personal touch to the whole trend. The instrumental Terrorizer has a familiar name and one that again speaks of the band’s advanced ideas. The CD also features the song Re-entry And Destruction not on the original 1990 version of Master.
Master never went anywhere. It was partly the group’s average music; partly the so-so quality of the band’s follow-ups and mostly the delay in the release of anything overground by the Chicago act that was at fault. Whatever the case, the mangling of America’s Pledge Of Allegiance and some impressively realistic lyrics speak to the original brave spirit of metal.
The Displeased version features a bonus DVD that contains two very rough looking concerts filmed in 1990 in The Netherlands and Germany. - Ali “The Metallian”
MASTER - ON THE SEVENTH DAY GOD CREATED MASTER - DISPLEASED
Master is the second album of the band lead by Paul Speckmann, having been originally issued by Nuclear Blast Records in 1991, which is now reissued by Displeased Records. The reissue adds notes, a new layout and importantly a DVD making the whole affair much more than the usual 'the album had become hard to find...’ excuse. Fact is, On The Seventh Day... is a staple of bargain and used bins everywhere and would never have credibly withstood the scarcity reasoning. With all due respect to Paul Speckmann and his trailblazer cohorts, this album is run-of-the-mill and pedestrian and shows a lack of good songs or song writing skill. The primal and angry nature of the early deathrash sound is no match for ten songs which basically rehash distorted simplicity to the max and on occasions, like noisy lead guitars or one-dimensional drums, manage to annoy and bore. Otherwise, songs like America The Pitiful are the sole solace in an affair like this.
Master fanatics (masochists?) and diehards will probably find much to love in the bonus DVD (depicting a newly-turned-quartet band at two shows), but the average fan needs to stick with master’s self-titled debut and only that. - Ali “The Metallian”
MASTER - SLAVES TO SOCIETY - IBEX MOON
No less than twenty-three years after first coming unto the scene Paul Speckmann’s Master has unleashed another heavy album that feels like a rejuvenated band with a new lease on life. The band is majority Czech right now. It seems like former Shaark men Alex Nejezchleba and Zdenek Pradlovsky have infused master with more speed and variety and also contributed many good riffs The style is still Master and still quite simplistic, but take in the opening riff of The Final Skull and tell me you don’t hear potent metal. The speed of The Room With Views, the solo on The Last Chapter and its resemblance to early Entombed or Treblinka make this one of the best Master albums ever. The North American version of the disc contains four songs taken from a 2005 demo called Everything Is Rotten and are almost as good as the rest of the material. Lined Up And Punished begins with a rock 'n roll riff, but it is soon back to business as usual. All these years later and the man is still waving with one finger at society. The hippies could learn a lesson here. - Anna Tergel