We’ve discussed early and often in this space the long and winding road that black metal has taken over the last 25 or so years. From the storied ‘second wave’ to all of the various musical hell spawn that have been birthed, covered in the blood and guts of extreme music, black metal today can be at times virtually unrecognizable when compared to its forefathers. While the many divergent paths the genre has taken over the years have often been refreshing and welcome additions, there are times when you just want something done in the ways of old. You just want something to grab you by the jugular and take you through a worm hole of musical dissonance. This is where CT/NYC outfit One Master come in.
One Master has been kicking around the New England black metal circuit for a few years now, releasing their debut album in 2013. For their style of music they’ve become amazingly proficient, with newest offering Reclusive Blasphemy being their third full length album in as many years. While on the surface it may seem simple enough to churn out music as raw and as blasting as One Master have perfected. But the reality is always more precise than the perception, especially when sitting down with Reclusive Blasphemy and a pair of good headphones. The subtleties and atmospherics woven into a blanket of blast beats and tremolo picking would make any Norwegian blush. Maybe it was the recently brutal New England winters, maybe these cats just have ice water in their veins, but One Master are slowly carving out a legacy for epic, frostbitten albums and this one may be their best yet.
The easiest (and frankly laziest) comparisons that One Master draw are the earliest offerings of bands like Mayhem, Darkthrone, Gorgoroth, Marduk, etc. While the homage that One Master pay to these elder statesmen of Satan’s army, is palpable for sure, One Master take liberties that their influences rarely did in their earliest of days. The title track, for example, starts with a funeral doom-like riff bubbling under a spoken word passage. It’s delivery even more disturbing sounding after following roughly 30 minutes of pure, unadulterated sonic holocaust. The album’s opening track, “At the Hour of Saturn” is another example of the slight variations that One Master offers up on this release. With an opening riff that truly accentuates the demonic atmospherics on display within, the band follow it down a rabbit hole to a Celtic Frost/Venom styled, galloping break down, before coming back up to the surface to breath the stagnant air of a hundred-thousand dead days lingering between them and the genre’s earliest moments.
While One Master dip their bloodied talons into the experimental pool, they never stray far enough from the genre to make you wonder about the album’s inclusion. Reclusive Blasphemy is not nearly as raw as their first two releases, nor is it as raw (read: lo-fi) as what was flowing from Scandinavia in the early 1990s. But this is also not an album that is meant for mass consumption. On the contrary, One Master offer nothing in the way of compromise. They offer nothing in the way of accessibility for those who have chosen to not walk the Left Hand Path, for those that do not partake in being engulfed by the darkest corners of the musical universe. One Master lurks in the shadows, instruments in hand, ready to slay the unbelievers of black metals most precious creeds of aggression and pure, primal fury.
Reclusive Blasphemy is out now through Eternal Death and can be experienced and purchased at the Eternal Death Bandcamp page.