MASTER'S HAMMER
Finished! - The Complete Demo Edition
(Darkness Shall Rise Productions)
211:50min

The German label Darkness Shall Rise Productions has just released a deluxe box set edition of the early MASTER’S HAMMER’s demo tapes. Here we have a three CDs hardcover book (size 14 × 14) with large 74 pages booklet, including a new in-depth-interview with mastermind Franta Štorm. The audio restoration and the mastering were handled by Patrick W. Engel at Temple Of Disharmony in Bamberg (Germany) during September and October 2023. “Finished! – The Complete Demo Edition” contains the best releases from this Czech cult band from 1987 to 1982. In detail: “The Ritual Murder” and “Live in Zbraslav” (CD 1); “Finished” and “The Mass” (CD 2); “The Fall Of Idol” and “Jilemnický Okultista” (CD 3). MASTER’S HAMMER, you know, is one of the most important Black Metal bands between the late ’80s and the early ’90s. A band that marked the birth of a style of Black Metal more articulated than the seminal gods of the first wave like VENOM and HELLHAMMER. MASTER’S HAMMER, together with their countrymates ROOT, TORMENTOR from Hungary and BATHORY from Sweden, strongly influenced the second wave Black Metal scene. Just remember that Fenriz from DARKTHRONE called MASTER’S HAMMER’s debut album “The Ritual”: “The first Norwegian Black Metal album, even though they are from Czechoslovakia.” Talking about their demos, “The Ritual Murder” and “Live in Zbraslav” are the rawer of the set. The first is a primitive example of proto Black Metal in the vein of HELLHAMMER, whereas the second one is an historical evidence of their very first gig ever in 1989. “The Mass” is my favourite of their demos, an intense recording that lays the foundation for their debut masterpiece “The Ritual”. The esoteric and occult feel hangs over the whole recording. The music is an obscure mixture of BATHORY and MERCYFUL FATE, with a touch of DEATH SS too in terms of concept and imagery. The riffs are both sinister and catchy in a perfect mix of early Black Metal with some killer tremolo, some thrashy parts and a good dose of NWOBHM. The fast drums, the demonic screamings and the mystical atmosphere carry the listener in a cryptic, gloomy and evil dimension. “The Finished” is another masterpiece, a clear example of what would later be developed by the Norwegian Black Metal scene with bands such as MAYHEM, DARKTHRONE etc. This demo offers us the roots of the cold and lo-fi Black Metal guitar tone used and abused by tons of bands in the last three decades. “The Fall Of Idol” stands between “The Mass” and “The Ritual”, has some great songs but the problem here is the cheesy drum machine sound. The last demo is “Jilemnický Okultista”, a sort of preview of their second full length album. This last chapter of the box set represents the beginning of the Symphonic Black Metal phase of MASTER’S HAMMER’s career. “Jilemnický Okultista” is less brutal than their previous demos, but the atmosphere is still sinister and horrific. In conclusion, if you’re into Black Metal, this collection is a must-have. www.facebook.com/mastershammerofficial, www.facebook.com/darknessshallriseproductions

Rick Peart

Rick Peart

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