The Human Machine

rating icon 8.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. The Human Machine
02. It's What Your Country Can Do For You
03. Twisted Truth
04. True Color
05. Suppress Free Thinking
06. A Replica Of Invention
07. Faceless Victims Expelled
08. Worship The Sun
09. The Lack Of Space
10. Impale To Kill

Though not matching the same level of output and revered status, in more than a few ways MASTER could be considered the MOTÖRHEAD of death metal. The (now-)Czech Republic-based band led by sole original member, founder, and journeyman Paul Speckmann (vocals/bass) keeps cranking out often underappreciated (that's changing though) straight ahead, thrash-rooted death metal albums and keeps getting better, as evidenced by the outstanding "Slaves to Society", which kicked up a minor ruckus amongst the death metal diehards and received wider acclaim after the Ibex Moon Records reissue in North America. Speckmann has not only developed a Lemmy-esque growl over the years, but there are base elements in the music of inspired by the Bronze era of the trio, a point unlikely to be disputed by the vocalist, an admitted MOTÖRHEAD fan. Furthermore, with a somewhat higher profile, owing at least in part to recent U.S. tours, a slew of reissues, and the recognition afforded "Slaves to Society", musicians claiming MASTER as an influence and a band crucial to death metal's formative period have been coming out of the woodwork. Speckmann, guitarist Alex Nejezchleba, and drummer Zdenek Pradlovsky may finally be releasing an album that falls within the parameters of "right place, right time."

That album is "The Human Machine", the group's 10th and one that is an angrier, grimier, and more bludgeoning affair than "Slaves to Society". Just like its predecessor it gets better and better with every spin. Though the styles of both albums are similar in a general (read: it's MASTER) sense, "The Human Machine" possesses an identity all its own. It is a beastlier take on a patented style that is based on a skull-cracking riff, a motorized bass line, and the notably percussive drumming of Pradlovsky. "The Human Machine" is a quintessential example of getting maximum output out of a three-piece format through a focus on the fundamentals and an attentiveness to detail that becomes more apparent with repeat plays.

It could be as simple as a peculiar slant to an otherwise familiarly-shaped riff and often, particularly on a song like "Impale to Kill", a style of riffing known as "fucking mean" drives the point home. In fact, MASTER albums have always boasted riffing defined by density, nastiness, and slight contortions that make them memorable. Put simply, as soon as the riff on the opening title track kicks in, the style is unmistakably MASTER and Nejezchleba has made things even better. The guy has a unique, value-additive style of soloing as well.

Add to all of that the periodic use of noxious growl layering that really ups the brutality level and a handful of extra pummeling arrangement shifts. The mid-tempo sections of "A Replica of Invention" (also showcasing those thick, biting bass lines) and "It's What Your Country Can do for you" (on which Speckmann lets the venomous contempt fly) will leave a permanent dent in the forehead. What all of that means is that "The Human Machine" is a terrific follow-up to "Slaves to Society" and a prime example of "walking the walk." MASTER always cuts through the bullshit.

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