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Master Massive – Black Feathers On Their Graves Award winner

Master Massive
Black Feathers On Their Graves
by Joseph Brewer at 16 July 2020, 2:44 PM

MASTER MASSIVE has had a career in the metal world that matches their name: massive! Formed in 1993, this Swedish quasi-supergroup is set to release their second album this year, “Black Feathers On Their Graves”. The interesting thing is that oftentimes, when bands like this come together, they tend to strike creative gold, release an album right away, and then their paths come and go until much later for a well needed reunion. Not in this case, as MASTER MASSIVE did not release their first album, “The Pendulum” until 2015, a full twenty two years after their initial formation. Their ambition, however, was resolute. “The Pendulum” was a heavy metal opera at over 70 minutes in length, populated by singers from around the home of Jan Strandh, centerpoint and lead guitarist of METAL MASSIVE. Not much time was wasted before writing and releasing their follow-up album, “Black Feathers On Their Graves”.

MASTER MASSIVE is a heavy metal band that has a throwback sound with modern polishing. Think early IRON MAIDEN with a gloomier delivery but fantastic contemporary production. They achieve a unique point in “Black Feathers On Their Graves” in that they go against the standard album structure model in favor of something bigger and more engaging. The album consists of three tracks: the self-titled “Black Feathers On Their Graves” at around 18 minutes, “Pictures In The Sand” at 11 minutes, and “Castles In The Air” at around 4 minutes, for a total runtime of approximately 33 minutes. While that may seem on the short side, the self-titled track in particular feels absolutely huge and satisfying.

Without question, the song “Black Feathers On Their Graves” is a journey. On their Bandcamp, it details that the song is actually broken down into five parts. Musically, each member of the band executes their portion perfectly. Jan Strandh is consistently laying down huge riffs on guitar, filling out the sound and driving the pace forward. Max Warnby on bass is bellowing out the beat of the song, thumping and driving with Strandh. Johan Björkman on drums rounds out the rhythm, keeping up the tempo of this insanely long song and providing plenty of interesting fills and cymbal work that would please any metal fan. Per-Mårten Hellberg on organ is an intriguing addition. While his part in the album is a bit more subdued than the rest, the organ is a key component to achieving the sound that MASTER MASSIVE is trying to achieve. The tone is definitely dark and cryptic. Ravens, tombstones, and mischievous moonlight rituals all race through your mind as you keep along with the track. Lastly, Marcus "Masken" Karlsson is absolutely terrific on this album. His voice is powerful and expressive, providing key focal points of melody and chorus where one isn’t necessarily clear. Other times, he purposefully strings his voice to convey the fear and anguish that goes along with the story. Really wonderful job overall.

The other two tracks on the album are just as good. MASTER MASSIVE has a knack for melody, which can sometimes be a tough piece to nail down when the focus of your album is heavy, bone crushing metal. “Pictures In The Sand” starts off with a varying tempo instrumental section, letting the band flex a bit. When Karlsson comes in during the first verse, they hit a very catchy rhythm that repeats throughout the song, it’s an addictive little up and down tune that is an earworm for sure. “Castles In The Air” ends the album on a high note. The gallop is in full effect and the tone of the song is majestic and powerful.

Black Feathers On Their Graves” is good, and all I could ask for is more songs. Maybe one or two more tracks that hit just as hard, but lean into different tones or styles. Fans of LED ZEPPELIN or IRON MAIDEN will enjoy the hell out of this album by MASTER MASSIVE.

Favorite Song: “Black Feathers On Their Graves

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Black Feathers On Their Graves
I. Falling In Time
II. Devil’s Sun
III. Paradise Lost
IV. Black Feathers On Their Graves
V. Our Ancient Fathers
2. Pictures In The Sand
3. Castles In The Air
Lineup:
Marcus "Masken" Karlsson – Lead Vocals
Jan Strandh – Guitars, Vocals
Per-Mårten Hellberg – Organ
Max Warnby – Bass
Johan Björkman – Drums
Record Label: ViciSolum Productions
     


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