One Master – Forsaking A Dead World

Perhaps some of the best albums are those you can recognize are great but have trouble articulating particularly why.  I think that this is akin to how, when using a piece of computer software, the best interface is one you barely think about when using.  The best interface is one that is close to completely transparent, helping bring the user closer to dealing with the program in a totally natural fashion.  So music is similar: the best music is simply great with no reasoning of WHY it’s great getting in the way of enjoying and experiencing it.

It took me a few listens, but I can safely say that One Master’s debut album, ‘Forsaking A Dead World’, is one of those releases which very nearly achieves total transparency with the audience.  It’s so good it’s almost unnoticably good; listening to it is a purely enjoyable experience that seems to refuse extensive evaluation on the part of the listener, so pure are its musical values.  It took me a while to warm up to, actually; a couple absent minded listens made me file it into the ‘good but unremarkable’ category, but after listening to it in its entirety during a nighttime highway drive, I can safely say that it’s one of the best USBM albums to come out in several years, and it’s all the more amazing because it doesn’t need to do anything unusual to achieve that distinction.  The members of the band are simply very accomplished, natural songwriters, and it’s shown in music where a misstep is not only never heard, but the idea of one never even enters the mind of the listener.  It’s just fantastic and while listening you can only detect the utter clarity of vision it takes to release something of such simple, undeniable quality.

One Master takes all the conventions of traditional, raw Norwegian-style black metal and makes a fantastic album out of them.  The voices are simple: distorted guitar, somewhat audible bass, snarling, declarative vocals, and simple, driving drums, but out of this simplicity arises enormously nuanced music.  In this way, it reminds me of Gorgoroth’s ‘Pentagram’ very strongly, in that the music speaks for itself and feels no need to adhere to anyone’s rules.  Like early Gorgoroth, the riffing style is not immediately comparable to any other band simply because the band, very logically, had no other artist in mind when deciding to compose this music.  It is the sort of album that could have arisen on its own without the genre of ‘black metal’ as we know it, simply because this is not music made to adhere to the standards of black metal, but music created which simply happens to fit the black metal form.

This is a riff-dominated album, with a dark, gothic, medieval sense of melody about it which is very refreshing when compared to the overly sleek, ultra-modern tremolo patterns found in so many black metal bands these days.  It seems the band is very definitely going for a middle ages feel with this music; the melodic sense and lyrics are simply too evocative to be anything else.  The riffs are incredibly developed, remarkably so, passing through numerous moods not only throughout songs, but mid-riff, showing a GENUINE complexity in writing, not the mere illusion of such crafted by using lots of notes in one place.  The music is at times daringly minimal but no less lush and rich in aesthetic detail than it is at even the most complex moments.  One Master uses the basic lexicon of black metal- blast beats, tremolo riffs, power chords, thrash beats, harsh vocals- and crafts something new and exciting with them in a time when being genuinely excited by a black metal release is exceedingly rare.

‘Forsaking A Dead World’ is a phenomenal debut album from a band that does not simply ‘have potential’, but has reached it long ago.  I cannot recommend this release enough to any and all black metal fans out there: if you give this release a chance, you will come away with something of definite greatness which reveals something new on every listen.

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~ by noktorn on September 6, 2008.

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