Master's Hammer

Picture of Master's Hammer

Ritual

Master's Hammer - Ritual ©1991 Osmose
1. Intro
2. Pád modly
3. Každý z nás...!
4. Ritual
5. Geniové
6. Cerná svatozár
7. Vecný návrat
8. Jáma pekel
9. Zapálili jsme onen svet
10. Vykoupení
11. Útok

When taken in the context of 1991 releases, Master's Hammer's Ritual is an entirely bizarre entry into the field of extreme metal. At the time most metal bands were plying their death metal wares, with a tendency towards technical ability. Thrash metal was winding down and black metal hadn't quite formulated into a cohesive subgenre yet. Ritual doesn't quite fit into any neat genre categories and even now, after metal has spent nearly two decades evolving and fusing a myriad of styles into the core form, this debut still defies logical classification.

Master's Hammer formed in the Czech Republic (although that country was known as Czechoslovakia until 1993) and released a few demos before putting out Ritual. The album was originally released on Monitor Records before Osmose ultimately picked up distribution (not that Osmose was a particularly prominent label back then). The album featured quite a few unorthodox sounds. For instance, very few metal bands actually utilized keyboards, but Master's Hammer included a reasonable amount of synthesized sounds on Ritual. Perhaps the closest relative to their music could be found on Celtic Frost's To Mega Therion, although there is little in common besides a tendency towards peculiar music. The vocals are quite unusual, a throaty sort of ghostly wailing. This might be the toughest aspect to assimilate on the album. However, for metal purists, the album features quite a bit of smart lead guitar playing with harmonic sections.

Ritual is one of the more unusual albums of its time. It's somewhat hard to discern exactly what inspired this band to create this style. The album isn't quite so freakishly strange that it defies all comprehension, but in the relatively conservative field of metal, it does come across as a rather unexpected debut.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/2009


Back to top 

Slagry

Master's Hammer - Slagry ©1995 Osmose
1. Savlovy Tanec
2. Ach, Synku, Synku
3. Liydem Spolu Do Betlema
4. Indianska Pisen Hruzy
5. Carl Czerny Op. 849
6. Rock'n'roll Music
7. Vzpominam Na Zlate Cazy
8. Nabucco
9. Mava Modernistova

When Master's Hammer, having gone through some lineup changes, released Slagry, many a head surely was scratched in dismay and wonderment at exactly what this band had released. Foregoing their previous black metal style entirely, this strange release is one of the most comical and nonsensical releases I can recall. And sadly, it is comical in the negative connotation of that word. Aside from the stirring rendition of "Savlovy Tanec" to open the album and the closing track "Mava Modernistova" (which revisits the band's old days as a metal outfit), much of this album is a collage of hilariously bad takes on minimalistic and avant garde music, mixed with circus tunes and goofball left field music. Or a college marching band on a bad brand of acid. Ridiculous doesn't even begin to describe how utterly misplaced their intentions are. At times their music gets so absurd that disbelief is the only reaction possible. I almost wonder if the remaining members of the band had a vendetta against Osmose Records and their revenge was the master tapes of Slagry. I guarantee you can convince guests who have overstayed their welcome to leave posthaste to Master's Hammer's version of Chuck Berry's "Rock'n'Roll Music". I guess the only way to think of Slagry is the Residents on a sadistic binge or the worst tendencies of a pretensious college Humanities course. I'm convinced someone somewhere is having a laugh at all our expense and chances are he's a member of Master's Hammer.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/200

Back to top 

Mantras

Master's Hammer - Mantras ©2009 Self Released
1. Typograf
2. Domanín
3. Až Já Budu...
4. Certi
5. Bodhi
6. Cervené Blato
7. Tympan
8. Vrana
9. Propesko
10. Fantasie
11. Ganesha Mantra
12. Jáma Pekel
13. Epitaf

The last I heard from Master's Hammer was their baffling 1995 release Šlágry. To say that release was atypical of the extreme metal scene is like saying the planet Jupiter is atypical of the produce selection at the local Safeway. In fact, it's so bizarre that I'd describe is as the musical equivalent of a bunny with a pancake on its head. In the subsequent years, it's hard to say exactly what the members of Master's Hammer kept themselves busy doing, but in 2009 they reemerged with Mantas, a self released effort that should reestablish their presence in the avantgarde metal world.

Without a doubt, Mantras puts Master's Hammer back in the realm of extreme metal rather than the wilderness were only people with sequencers and hallucinogens dare to wander. And in fact, at times it seems as though Master's Hammer is playing things far more safely than one might expect. In the time between 1995 and 2009, metal has seen considerable influences seep in to create all sorts of hybrids. To some degree, Mantras has a bit of the band's earlier days intact, with relatively straight forward black metal aspects, although somewhat infused with general weirdness. This is probably one group of musicians who couldn't cover AC/DC without making it a bit odd. But although there's no mistaking this band as "weird", I kept getting the feeling they held back a little bit with their avantgarde tendencies. There's hints of electronic music, but outside of "Ganesha Mantra" they don't follow through a whole lot. But on the flipside, the following track, "Jáma Pekel", is both easily digestible on the surface, memorable and buzzing with slightly strange sounds on the peripheral.

Mantras isn't quite as significant of a revival or profound musical statement built on a long absence. It's something that will undoubtedly appeal to those who crave weird, avantgarde metal, but I can't shake the feeling that Master's Hammer pulled up just a bit short on being weird in the context of extreme metal without going the route of Šlágry. It's an interesting release but lacking enough brillance to warrant dozens upon dozens of listens.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2012

Back to top