Last week we premiered the outstanding “Stand Up and Be Counted” from Master‘s forthcoming thirteenth full-length Vindictive Miscreant. Now we take a look back at their long-forgotten second album, On the Seventh Day God Created… Master (1991)—a hidden gem, buried among some of death metal’s finest and most foundational records.
What kind of god is senseless and weak,
A product of man’s own disease,
Tormenting with lust, hatred and envy,
A product of weakness that is worshiped daily?
…so begins Master’s second full-length record, in suitably blasphemous fashion. Although, if you’re paying attention to the album title, then it is also this senseless, diseased god whom we have to thank for one of the best and most overlooked death metal records of the early ’90s. On the Seventh Day God Created… Master (1991) might not be as well remembered as many of its brethren, but it nevertheless occupies an interesting niche in death metal history.
To put things in perspective, On the Seventh Day… came out the same year as Death‘s Human, Atheist‘s Unquestionable Presence, Entombed‘s Clandestine, Morbid Angel‘s Blessed are the Sick, Carcass‘s Necroticism, Dismember‘s Like an Everflowing Stream…, Bolt Thrower‘s War Master, Autopsy‘s Mental Funeral, Gorguts‘s Considered Dead, Suffocation‘s Effigy of the Forgotten and Asphyx‘s The Rack—just to name a few. It’s no secret that 1991 was a landmark year for death metal, and many of the above-listed records (which, yes, have been arranged in order of personal preference) have been instrumental in shaping the course of what death metal is and came to be. All this is to say that, when On the Seventh Day… rolled around, it wasn’t yet known exactly to what extremes this most extreme of extreme metal sub-genres could and would be taken, which only makes its distinctively unrefined take on the genre all the more appealing.
On the Seventh Day… is about as straightforward a death metal album as you’ll come across—although it probably constitutes the most ambitious entry in the Master discography. The record feels much more refined and uniform than the band’s self-titled debut (1990), which still bore the thrashier hallmarks of the Unreleased 1985 Album that didn’t see the light of day until 2003. Other than the which begins with some soft keys and synthetic orchestrations that start it off, “Latitudinarian” sounds like it would have been at home on any of the first three Obituary records, while the punkier “Heathen” comes off like a mash-up of Venom and early Death. Drummer, Aaron Nickeas hardly lets up on the double-bass throughout its blistering thirty-five minutes. Yet there’s also a lot more variance in texture and tempo on this album than most of Master’s other outings, and the bulk of its ten tracks are initially announced via a dragging, low-tempo riff before all the chaos kicks in.
The other remarkable thing about On the Seventh Day… is that it features one Paul Masvidal on guitar, who would go on to define, and practically invent, the sub-sub-genres of both progressive and technical death metal via his work with Death and Cynic. Again, this record came out the same year as the former’s Human, which means that on this little-known and long-forgotten slab of primal death metal we are hearing the first marks of someone who (like him or not) would prove instrumental to the genre of itself. Masvidal never strays too far off the beaten death metal path here. There’s certainly nothing in play that would point to where he’d take things with Focus (1993). However, there is plenty of the kind of “walking tremolo”-style riffs that dominated Human scattered throughout, and the album makes for a far better halfway point between Leprosy (1988) and that record than Spiritual Healing (1990), which is an album I personally always forget exists.
There are times when the album’s immaturity gets the better of it. “America the Pitiful” reeks of edgy juvenilia (the title would later be shared by, that most terrible of industrial/nu-metal bands, Dope), although it serves as a nice tie into the “Pledge Of Allegiance” that opened their debut. Even so, the fact remains that in any other year On the Seventh Day… would have easily made for one of the year’s best death metal offerings, and it remains a remarkable—if not entirely exceptional—moment in the genre’s history.
Master’s thirteenth album Vindictive Miscreant comes out November 28th through Transcending Obscurity Records, you can pre-order it via the label’s Bandcamp page.