Friday, 18 December 2009

Master's Hammer - Mantras

Master's Hammer have always been like a totem to me. They could do whatever the fuck they pleased and it would have an unbelievable high level of artistic integrity that would leave me speechless. I first found out about the band in 1988 when I heard their second demo, 'Finished'. This was like a revelation for me. From then on every single note they put on tape, or vinyl, or cd, has magical properties. 'Ritual' is one of the five best black metal records of the 90's, combining the basic teachings of Bathory with the weirdness, isolationism and sophistication of a band coming from an eastern european country. 'Jilemnicky Okultista' was a complete work of art that put the norwegian hype bands of the time to shame. Fuck, this band made me love the tympani sound in black metal. Even the underrated 'Šlágry' was a unique piece of music, bringing their weirdness to a new level. Of course this record was hated by the so called "purists". Who gave them the fucking right to consider themselves purists is another debate. Hell, I consider myself to be a black metal purist, only I believe that black metal is first and foremost a state of mind, a spiritual experience that has to be lived to the full and not just listened to. Leaving the parasites of black metal behind I will proceed to the new album.
'Mantras' is what one would expect Master's Hammer to be in 2010. That is, anyone that can understand the aura that surrounds the band. That is kind of a company of middle aged men, playing the music they are best at and telling stories about the everyday life in the Czech countryside. From a musical point of view this is a summary of everything they have done in the past. The guitars sound like they are shifted from 'Jilemnicky Okultista', the weird electronics are there, reminding that this is a band that could even make almost disco-like parts sound at home with the obscure atmosphere they create. And yes, the tympani they introduced in black metal is here too. The differences between  Master's Hammer circa 2010 and the early 90's is perfectly summed up in the excellent reworking of 'Jáma Pekel' that was first featured on their debut and it also appears here. Yes, in the 'pits of hell' with a glass of wine in the hand. I welcome the old friends back.