Master – Alive In Athens

Master is no stranger to live albums, unleashing a rather consistent set list of tracks ever since 2000. They’ve been around since the late 80s and all over the place, from the U.S. to Czech Republic. Their sound has stayed true to its core for over 30 years despite recent lineup changes, with Paul Speckmann still showing he’s a beast on bass and vocals since the group’s inception. Their latest live effort “Alive In Athens” still features a lot of tracks that have been on previous efforts, so those who have collected their works over the years may not find much in the way of new features here, but those who have been yearning for a live sounding album of death thrash that is raw, grim and definitely in the spirit of the older sound will certainly enjoy it.

The comparison between their studio albums and live albums is pretty clear. On the studio albums like “Slaves To Society” the vocals sound more thrashier with a faster pace to the guitar versus on the live album they feel more death metal oriented and the tone is much fuzzier, sounding a lot more like a mix between older Deicide or Dismember. The group is very bass heavy as well, which helps enhance the sludgy tones to make the music as gritty as possible while still sounding organic and not over produced. The setlist is basically the same though, but it is impressive when one can compare how they performed ‘Unknown Soldier’ back in 2000 and almost 20 years later it still sounds ferocious as hell. Usually one can tell over time as a band gets ‘tired with age’ in live releases, but Master sound as good, if not better, than they did back in the late 90s.

The live presence is certainly there with the audience engagement with the band such as on tracks like ‘Judgement Of Will’ and ‘Cut Through The Filth.’ The pace varies between near doom tones such as ‘Remorseless Poison’ or the furious assault of ‘Re-entry And Destruction.’ ‘Submerged In Sin’ does a good job of mixing the two together, but the presence of ‘thrash’ is somewhat buried in the buzz saw tone save for during the guitar solos. The presence certainly sounds more death metal like which might throw fans off a bit who are more used to the thrashy bits on albums such as ‘Master,’ their debut. Still, for those who know of groups like Vader who also tend to go the death thrash route, tracks like ‘Betrayal’ have a more rock oriented vibe and probably is the fastest track. The riffs come fast and heavy- certainly a pit driven song- and the vocals do a good job at keeping up.

The drum solo track is of course the highlight of the album as Master showcases all their beating talent in varied paces. Usually the drums are a bit buried in the guitar tones, but not here. It may not be as fast or grandiose as Pete Sandoval from Morbid Angel does, but it still rocks. Overall, the album closes with the staple Black Sabbath cover of ‘Children Of The Grave’ which Master always seem to perform. Thicker than the original, the death metal elements added in give the track its own flair while still remaining raw and plodding. The rest of the tracks pretty much have been performed on all the other live albums done, but there are at least a few new ones that old fans can enjoy without feeling like they are hearing the Mexico City set or Portugal all over again. For new fans, this is a great place to start for Master as it showcases a grimier, more death metal touched approach compared to earlier studio albums, and shows a band of 20 plus years refusing to give up on their core sound or die out.

Side note: Twan of BRUTALISM.com was awesome enough to do the layout for Master, so no wonder they have such a brutal tone!

3 / 5 STARS 

Reviewer: Colin McNamara

Oct 21, 2020

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Master – Alive In Athens

review Master - Alive In Athens

1. Master
2. Subdue The Politician
3. Slaves To Society
4. Shoot To Kill
5. Judgement Of Will
6. Submerged In Sin
7. Collection Of Souls
8. Unknown Soldier
9. Re-Entry And Destruction
10. Betrayal
11. Cut Through The Filth
12. Drum Solo
13. Remorseless Poison
14. Pay To Die
15. Children Of The Grave (cover Black Sabbath)

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