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Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • Czech Republic

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Master's Hammer picture
Master's Hammer biography
In late 80s, few guys got together and began making music never heard before in Czech Republic, they began experimenting with Black Metal.
Inspired by early albums of Bathory, their dark music gained them a lot of fans. So this helped them to get a record contract and make their first album Ritual in 1990.
Strange kind of Black Metal with almost poetical occultistic-satanistic lyrics, especially shown on their 1992 concept album Jilemnice Occultist.
After these two album, band tried to work with electronic music, but they soon dissolved. However, they reunited in 2009 and made album Mantras.

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Osmose Productions 2009
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MASTER'S HAMMER discography

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MASTER'S HAMMER top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.35 | 9 ratings
4.19 | 9 ratings
The Jilemnice Occultist
4.00 | 1 ratings
0.00 | 0 ratings
Vracejte Konve Na Misto

MASTER'S HAMMER Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

1.00 | 1 ratings
Live In Zbraslav

MASTER'S HAMMER Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

MASTER'S HAMMER Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

MASTER'S HAMMER Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.17 | 3 ratings


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Jilemnice Occultist by MASTER'S HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 1992
4.19 | 9 ratings

The Jilemnice Occultist
Master's Hammer Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

5 stars 'The Jilemnice Occultist' - Master's Hammer (10/10)

The black metal 'golden age' of the early 1990's seems to almost exclusively inspire fans to think of Norway, with particular regards to the whole 'murder, church-burning, suicide' game of musical chairs that made the genre a seasonal favourite for media sensationalists, and a mark of concert for conservative Christian mothers worldwide. Of course, the appeal and mystique of black metal was by no means limited to Northern Europe, and as some might argue, it wasn't even the place where the best music was being made. Cut to what is now known as the Czech Republic; a band called MASTER'S HAMMER recorded their debut 'Ritual' in 1991, creating some well-deserved praise for a band that was doing some fairly sophisticated things with the then-youthful genre. By the next year however, much attention in black metal had scopes on Norway. Although 'The Jilemnice Occultist' (or 'Jilemnicky Okultista' in the original Czech) did not receive the degree of recognition and awe that it deserved, MASTER'S HAMMER took the style of black metal into progressive depths then yet unexplored by any others. 'The Jilemnice Occultist' is arguably the most accomplished black metal of its period, and even today holds the title for one of the most effective uses of keyboards in the style.

The band find their sound rooted in a meeting between thick VENOM sounding riffs, theatrical vocal work, and symphonic flourishes that many have tried to emulate, but none have managed to execute as well. The edge of the keyboards never attempts to mimic a full orchestra- something often doomed to fail within the context of a limited budget- instead, the keyboards are either used to provide spooky piano rolls over the guitars, or back up the guitars themselves to flesh out the rhythm. In taking their moderated approach with the keyboards, MASTER'S HAMMER evade the greatest fault I find with much symphonic metal, in that the keyboards will too often weaken the intensity of the guitar. Vlasta Voral's keyboard work is among the most distinctive aspects of the album however, and while it is primarily aimed to support the guitars, it adds a wholly new melodic dimension to the music that actually compliments the spooky occult atmosphere of the album. MASTER'S HAMMER's sound is incredibly vast for a black metal album released in this era, with the recording's only blight being the fairly weak sound of Mirek Valenta's drum kit. The musicianship itself is without weakness across the board, and though the songs themselves may not be as distinguishable as they are on MAYHEM's 'De Mysteriis,,,' record (this period's go-to black metal masterpiece) the songwriting on 'The Jilemnice Occultist' is remarkably consistent, although the second track 'Among The Hills, A Winding Way' may be my favourite cut off the record.

MASTER'S HAMMER hold alot of 'firsts' in black metal with 'The Jilemnice Occultist'. Most notably, this is the first time a black metal record was ever tied together with a storyline. Similar to KING DIAMOND's penchant for horror storytelling, the album has a plot where dark magic takes the centerstage, creating a complex tale that would not look out of place in Gothic horror canon. For better and worse, the lyrics are all rasped in the native Czech tongue, meaning that many English-inclined won't get to experience the storyline firsthand. Although this leaves many listeners to explore the storyline through online summaries and booklets, the phonetics of the Czech language sound absolutely diabolical when sung by Franta Storm. Although he already took his place as one of my favourite and most distinctive black metal vocalists with his powerful rasp on 'Ritual', 'The Jilemnice Occultist' has his vocals go wild, running from his traditionally dramatic and high-energy performance to griefridden sprechsegang that sometimes sounds like it could be Gollum shrieking. His very distinctive style may have some questioning whether they love it or hate it, but I can mention few black metal frontmen with such an eerie sound to their vocals.

The fuzzy classic metal riffs, ingenious symphonic touch and undeniable vocal brilliance of the band's frontman make 'The Jilemnice Occultist' still one of the greatest black metal albums even today. The band's debut had much of this same charm and occult atmosphere to it, but MASTER'S HAMMER's experimental risk here pays off in full. While the folks in Norway may have outshadowed the rest of the world with their antics, MASTER'S HAMMER matured the sound of black metal here to such an extent, that it would take other bands nary half a decade to catch up to them. A virtually flawless record.

 Ritual by MASTER'S HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.35 | 9 ratings

Master's Hammer Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Ritual' - Master's Hammer (8/10)

Although black metal is thought to have been largely pioneered in Scandinavia, the truth is that there were bands from all over the world that were jumping on around the same time, and in some cases, doing even better things than their Norwegian counterparts. Master's Hammer is one such act, originating from the then-recently communistic Czechoslovakia. Their debut album 'Ritual' is a record that is heavy on Bathory-esque riffs and atmosphere, a late addition to the first wave of black metal, but a very strong one all the same.

The lyrics here are growled and rasped in Czech; Storm is a frontman who aligns himself with the traditional black metal style of vocals, but his delivery if somewhat more decipherable than other bands whose voicework sounded closer to a garble. The fact that an English-speaking person such as myself still cannot understand what he is actually saying makes the language really haunting. Master's Hammer is built around buzzy guitars, punkish drums, and a somewhat more bass-heavy sound that the Norwegian black metal. All the same, the influence of early Bathory is very evident in what the band is doing here, with some sounds of raw thrash blending in with the black metal direction that the band was taking.

On top of the straightforward guitar work and drums, Master's Hammer makes great use of symphonic keyboard elements, using a choir synth to accentuate some of the more atmospheric moments on this album. Need I say that this was a pretty inventive thing to do in black metal at the time, and the band pulls it off very well; it is interesting to hear something so smooth pressed up against the angry-sounding metal sound that the band has for themselves here. The album rarely lets up its thrashy pace, but there are some good guitar parts here where they absolve the straightforward nature and pull off some surprisingly technical and dissonant leads.

'Ritual' is an essential album for the raw sound of black metal's first wave, and even ahead of its time, when compared to their generally less-mature contemporaries. Master's Hammer would only get better with their classic 'Jilemnicky Okultista', but this debut on its own distinguishes them in the early black metal scene.

 Ritual by MASTER'S HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.35 | 9 ratings

Master's Hammer Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by toroddfuglesteg

2 stars The debut from these legends of extreme metal.

I have been running through these albums again which I have stored for many years without even giving them a second glance. Then PA arrived and I have to review them....... Life could had been worse.

I have got a lot of new respect for this band. This album though, Ritual as it is called, is their debut album and the fare here is thrash/speed metal bordering to death metal. Nothing fancy here. But you can still hear the band really pushing themselves. Pushing themselves and the envelope, that is. Within the strict confines of thrash/speed metal, Master's Hammer is operating on the fringes, trying to escape from this genre. In the process, Ritual got a sound which the melodic branch of the Norwegian black metal scene copied and made popular under the black metal umbrella. And I am talking about bands like Dimmu Borgir. Ritual was released in 1991. Dimmu Borgir copied it's sound and released their first two albums some years later with great success.

In short, the music on this album is both brutal and slightly melodic at the same time. The vocals in their native language is the usual black metal shrieks and fitting for this music. The quality is not that good though. The sound is great though. But for an old timer like myself, this is a pretty enjoyable album from a great band. Enjoyable for a short period, that is. But this album is for collectors only, I am afraid. Get the other Master's Hammer albums instead of Ritual.

2.5 stars

 Slagry by MASTER'S HAMMER album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1995
3.17 | 3 ratings

Master's Hammer Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars Scratching my head........... Scratching my head........... Scratching my head........... Scratching my head........... Scratching my head........... Scratching my head........... Scratching my head........... Scratching my head........... Scratching my head...........

What the pink flying elephant is this coming out of my speakers ?????

I expected some avant-garde black/thrash metal from Slagry. An album I bought when it was released. I guess I did not listen to it back then because when I put it on last night, I got a huge surprise. Well, I should have studied the track listing better. Slagry contains songs from Chuck Berry and Guiseppe Verdi among others. The "others" also include a Christmas carol and some own compositions.

The result is some music which is totally bonkers. Utterly, butterly, stark raving mad bonkers.

Let me explain: The music is RIO, no less. Not avant-garde, but simply Rock In Opposition aka the leading bands in this genre. What this means is an album with both acoustic instruments over some folk music tones. So far, so Aranis/Univers Zero. You also get some techno house melodies too on this album. Hard techno/house with banging rhythms. There are even some nice choir music on this album too. On the top of the whole thing, you have some pure Zeuhl type vocals too scattered around this album. The songs has been pulled apart and put together by Master's Hammer. That in their special way.

..... And it works ! Master's Hammer has managed to pull of a very confusing album, but the quality is still there and there is a thin, red thread called concept running through it. But this album is one of the strangest albums I have ever heard in my time here in ProgArchives and I have been exposed to some very weird music in my time here. That's why I love ProgArchives. That and being challenged to albums like Slagry.

I am not sure if this is a 3 or a 4 stars album. I give it three stars and recommend it to all fans of Magma and the RIO genre because I think you will appreciate it more than I do.

Scratching my head again.........

3.5 stars

 Live In Zbraslav by MASTER'S HAMMER album cover Live, 2010
1.00 | 1 ratings

Live In Zbraslav
Master's Hammer Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by toroddfuglesteg

— First review of this album —
1 stars Warning. This is not live album recorded in this decade. It is in fact Master's Hammer live anno 18. May 1989.

So forget their progressive black metal material and open your ears (make that; mind) to some old style black/thrash metal. Although the sound is pretty good, the songs are pretty primitive. This live album is a true necro black metal album. If this interest you, you are probably on the wrong website. Metal Archives is probably your right destination. This live album is not without some quality and it is pretty obvious that the band was pretty talented. But this album is as progressive as the sounds from some mating foxes. This album is only for those who needs everything from this band.

1 star

 The Jilemnice Occultist by MASTER'S HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 1992
4.19 | 9 ratings

The Jilemnice Occultist
Master's Hammer Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars To my knowledge, this album is the forerunner of the symphonic black metal genre which later spawned bands like Dimmu Borgir, Arcturus, Cradle Of Filth + hundreds of other similar bands. This album also caused a sensation when released and it was as much myth as an album. The importance of this album cannot be underestimated, in other words.

Music wise, this is......... well, symphonic black metal. It can be compared to the four most recent albums from Dimmu Borgir. The Jilemnice Occultist was released in 1992 though so no prizes for guessing who has copied who. The music also sounds like 1992 with a pretty weak rasping vocal and not particular great musicianship. The guitars, bass and drums is supplemented with a large dosage of synth/keyboards. If you also add some theatrical symphonic prog (for example Ange) into the mix too, you get a pretty good idea about this album.

This album is, believe it or not, a concept album. To my knowledge, this is the first ever black metal concept album too. The songs themselves is good though with some cracking good songs inbetween. The music is way more intelligent and better crafted than everything from the black metal scene anno 1992 and most black metal anno 2010 too. But in my standards, this is nothing more than a good album. But those into progressive metal and in particular; black metal should most certainly check out this album.

3.5 stars

Thanks to Marty McFly for the artist addition.

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