Here we have another release from the expanding French label XenoKorp who have unleashed some good albums of late. To coincide with a European tour involving underground titans Master and Belgian stalwarts Dehuman, XenoKorp have released a split EP of both bands. This is a unique way to release material but also will give fans of both bands an idea of what to expect on this tour.
First off, we have Master who I was introduced to on the Death Is Just The Beginning compilation through Nuclear Blast way back in the early 90s. I had heard of Paul Speckmann and company through the legendary Deathstrike, so I was aware of Paul’s previous work. I then went back to On the Seventh Day God Created Master. This was when Master were on top of their game. Master have had a steady lineup since 2003 and with the four tracks on this split, Master play through the old and new of their extensive back catalogue.
Firstly, we have their rather aptly title “Master” which is just built on rage and has a Slayer-esque vibe to it but with Paul’s undeniable vocal style that tips over to the death metal territory. Production is clear and presents Master in a positive light, showing off the thrash elements in their music. This song was written over thirty years ago, coming from their self titled debut album, and it still sounds so fresh listening to it today. This from an album that has been mentioned as being at the forefront of the death metal scene at the time of its release, and it still bodes well today.
Next we move onto a song that was released last year, “Subdue the Politician”, which carries on with the death thrash groove the Master way. I always worry when bands are a three piece, particularly in the live environment and especially when there are long guitar solos as there are in this song. I think it makes things sound weaker but Master are, well, masters at their trade and judging by the crowd reaction, they lapped up every second of the song.
“All We’ve Become” pays homage to the hardcore scene with hardcore/punk style riffs at the beginning before resorting to that Master formula once again. Master are like the Motorhead of death metal, meaning you know what you are going to get. They play consistently strong songs and this is no different. I will never understand why this band have not had more recognition as they are true purveyors of the scene that I love.
The last song from Master is “Slave to Society” which is more death metal than the others and apart from the opening tracks, the riffs on this song are at their best. Czech musicians Alex on guitars and Zdenek on drums have been in the band for a number of years and have built Master into a machine that will never stop. This track is a fitting way to end their split as it sums up everything that is good about Master who should be regarded as one of the pioneers of the death metal scene. However, I have a feeling that Paul and co would rather be the kings of the underground that they are.
Next we have Belgian band Dehuman who give us three songs recorded live in the studio. They are much more of the new school of death metal with a few blast beats and swirling riffs thrown in there, though they do pay homage to the forefathers of the death metal scene. Having released two full length albums since their inception in 2006 they are currently signed to XenoKorp in France.
Firstly we have “Morbid Sun” which sounds very much like early Pestilence meaning that it gets a huge thumbs up in my book. Singer Andrea sounds like Martin Van Drunen and I had a double take when I first heard the vocals. The songs are much longer than Master’s and are a lot more technical. I like this, especially the riffs that are really fast paced and which twist and turn throughout the duration of the song. Blast beats can sometimes be boring if they are constant, but drummer Laye knows when to play them appropriately maximising the effect. This is a very strong opener from Dehuman.
The next song is “Sepulchre of Malevolence” which is a more traditional slab of death metal, not too technical but not simplistic either, just a well structured and crafted song. Unfortunately I had not heard of Dehuman before this but they are certainly catching my eye and ears here. There is absolutely nothing out of place and everything is connected so well that Dehuman should turn a few heads when playing live.
The last song of the split is “Apocalypse and Perdition”. It is over six minutes long and starts off with a melody and is slower than their previous tracks. Don’t worry, they soon resort to the tried and tested formula of mixing up the pace throughout the whole of this song. Opening riffs are killer, followed by blast beats that will surely get the pits started. There are no connections with countrymen Aborted here, more like the Floridian death metal scene, maybe with Malevolent Creation and elements of Obituary and of course that Pestilence worship. This is probably their strongest track on this EP and with their last album being released in 2015, they will hopefully be due to release another soon. I for one will be sure to check it out.
There we have it. Another stellar release from Nicolas Williart and his XenoKorp label. I have reviewed three of his releases in the last couple of months and each and every one of them should grab your attention. Live recordings can sometimes be a hit and miss business, but on this occasion Master and Dehuman have embraced the live sound and used it to their advantage to make this a very pleasurable release.