Master's Hammer - Fascinator
Jihosound Records
Experimental Black Metal
13 songs (50' 1")
Release year: 2018
Master's Hammer
Reviewed by Andy

Easily one of the least conventional black metal acts I've ever heard, Master's Hammer figured out plenty of ways to disconcert their fans throughout their long career, featuring avant-garde, industrial, and world music in addition to the quirky but raw black metal they were originally known for. Older and more polished, but just as bizarre, they produce a mix of the weird and theatrical on the aptly-named Fascinator. I must admit that I was drawn in mostly by the demented artwork, but I stayed for the variety.

Though 1995's Šlágry got panned (with good reason, if you ask me), frontman Franta Štorm never gave up on electronica and industrial-music influences, but with original members Necrocock and Silenthell assisting him on guitars and tympani, black metal is firmly baked into the modern Master's Hammer sound nowadays. Alas, the band got rid of their howled vocals back in the 90s, but an eerie King Diamond-style background wail, combined with a well-placed organ, certainly sets the atmosphere. The sound is ornate, with simple riffs at the bottom, but with a symphonic layering that calls to mind Sigh.

The band isn't afraid of guitar solos. There is virtually no tremolo picking; instead, Necrocock's guitar work is a wah-wah solo of the 80s Kirk Hammett variety. Linkola hits the listener with a storm of Silenthell's tympani beats, though it has some melody on the chorus. Towards the end, though, you can hear synthesizer noodling, opening the way for the full-blown techno-metal of Satanská nekrofilní porna (yes, that does mean something like "Satanic necrophilic porn"). For all that, I can offer the excuse that it is very tastefully done. Several later songs also contain electronic beats, but while a lot of it is very different from what one expects black metal to be like, there are no moments where the listener starts to wonder if Štorm has lost his mind. While there's no black metal I'd consider as wild as on Ritual, songs like Kletba show that the band's sound is no less creative. The sound becomes cooler and darker on the final track, Lost in Fjords, a synth-backed instrumental with more of the Northern black-metal hallmarks in Necrocock's guitar work than the mashup of sounds used in the previous tracks -- but with a theremin (or synth sounding like one) tossed in towards the end.

This won't be to everyone's taste, but no one can argue it's not creative. To the adventurous, it's worth a listen.

Bandcamp: https://mastershammer.bandcamp.com/album/fascinator.

Killing Songs :
Linkola, Astrální dvojníci, Lost in Fjords
Andy quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Master's Hammer that we have reviewed:
Master's Hammer - Mantras reviewed by Goat and quoted 81 / 100
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