MasterChicago's MASTER is but one of the outlets, alongside solo work and DEATHSTRIKE, utilised by Death Metal genius Paul Speckmann. As a vocalist, Speckmann, who had also donated his lungpower to the track 'Forbidden Evil' by Doom combo WARCRY on the 'Metal Massacre IV' compilation, is able to pour more genuine venomous rage into his vocals than perhaps any other.
As a student, Speckmann's inaugural band at Forest View High School in Arlington Heights was titled WHITE CROSS, this unit featuring a latter day THRUST guitarist Ron Cooke. Speckman took the lead vocal role in this fledgling act but opted out to pursue bass guitar. In 1982 he joined forces with guitarist Steve Ahlers, second guitarist Marty Fitzgerald, vocalist Rich Rozek plus drummer Joe Iaccino to forge WARCRY.
Speckmann later formed up the revised WARCRY rhythm section alongside drummer Bill Schmidt. This pairing, inspired towards a greater degree of aggression apparently due to an airing of VENOM's 'In League With Satan' single, broke away to establish the first proto-organisation of MASTER. This title had been suggested by WITCHSLAYER bassist Rick Manson as a nod of deference to BLACK SABBATH's 'Master Of Reality'.
After failing to secure a suitable guitarist to complete the band, Schmidt drifted off to join the ranks of MAYHEM. Undaunted, Speckmann pulled in TRANSGRESSOR guitarist Chris Mittlebrun to forge DEATH STRIKE, utilising the original MASTER material. This group was rounded out by sixteen year old second guitarist Kirk Miller and drummer John Leprich. DEATH STRIKE cut the 'Fuckin' Death' demo at Open Reel Studios in Lynwood in January 1985, after which Bill Schmidt was re-enrolled on drums. Miller exited too and the MASTER title was adopted once again that July.
The band was embroiled in internal tensions even as it got off the starting blocks. Signing to the Combat label MASTER entered the Seagrapes recording studio to lay down seven tracks for a debut album the following year. Speckmann financed this operation himself, having come into an inheritance from his late father. However, in the midst of these sessions the band broke up and the album was shelved. Conjecture has often pointed the finger of blame towards then manager Kim Fowley's reluctance to accept a five album deal with little advance. This misfortune did not prevent the unmixed tapes leaking onto the underground tape trading market though and before long the name MASTER was being revered across North America and Europe. Another tape circulated would be a rehearsal set recorded by DEVESTATION's Troy Dixler including non album tracks 'Rabid Anger' and 'Live For Free'.
Mittlebrun would join SINDROME and Alex Olvera from ASSAULT was inducted. Combat Records offered a new deal, for an EP release, but once again Fowley re-structured the contract to such a degree the label withdraw the offer. MASTER folded but reformed with the Speckmann/Schmidt/Mittlebrun axis for a one off concert at The Warehouse in Chicago. A tape of this show was widely circulated.
The four song 'Nuke 'Em' demo arrived in 1988. MASTER finally got product into the public domain 1990, the German Nuclear Blast label issuing a split 7" single in collaboration with ABOMINATION. The full-length album of that featured a rendition of BLACK SABBATH's 'Children Of The Grave'. The group was beset by internal problems though. The first draft of 'Master' had featured Jim Martinelli on guitar and Aaron Nickeas on drums but was rejected by the label. Speckmann drew on his erstwhile colleagues Mittelbrun and Schmidt to re-record the entire album.
MASTER's second album, 1991's 'On The Seventh Day God Created... Master', recorded at Morrisound Studios in Tampa by Scott Burns and again put out via Nuclear Blast, features drummer Aaron Nickeas and guest guitar by CYNIC and DEATH man Paul Masvidal, original guitarist Chrios Mittelbrun having left for pastures new in SINDROME, a later incarnation of fellow Chicago act DEVESTATION. John Tardy of OBITUARY donated guest vocals to the tracks 'Submerged In Sin' and 'Latitudinarian'. Speckmann released an eponymous solo album almost simultaneously with MASTER's sophomore outing. As it transpired, this set was in fact the original, rejected 'Master' session.
Third effort 'Collection Of Souls' was delivered in 1993. However, MASTER then lost their deal and the next set of tracks was delivered as 'The Final Word' demo in 1995. Moonlight Records put out a split EP, shared with EXCISION, the following year. Fresh label deals were secured for a 1998 album 'Faith Is In Season', SPV Records in Germany issuing the record with a different cover for Europe as opossed to the US edition on Pavement Music.
2000 found Speckmann united with Skull and Christopher from the Czech Republic's KRABATHOR for the MARTYR project and the resulting 'Murder: The End Of The Game' album. MASTER returned in 2001 with the EP 'Follow Your Savior'.
MASTER's long neglected debut record would finally see public airing in 2003, some eighteen years after its initial recording, courtesy of the From Beyond Productions label. In addition to the 1985 tracks this release added three songs from a 1991 demo plus the bonus 'Cut Through The Filth', previously available on the compilation 'Death Is Just The Beginning II'. The reconstituted MASTER formed up a package billing of LIVIDITY, MASTIC SCUM and DAMNABLE for European touring in March of 2003. Bill Schmidt also forged an unlikely alliance with Glam Rock band DIAMOND REXX that same month.
MASTER, OBITUARY and VISCERAL BLEEDING teamed up for the 'The Legends Are Back' dubbed European tour, commencing in early October of 2004. That same year it was learned that former guitarist Chris Mittelbrun has resurfaced as "Mick Mars" in the Chicago based MȪTLEY CRÜE tribute band dubbed THE CRÜE.
In 2004 Californian gore Metal band EXHUMED revealed they had included a rendition of the MASTER song 'Pay To Die' on their covers album entitled 'Regurgitated Requiems: Garbage Daze Re-Regurgitated'. Meantime, MASTER issued 'The Spirit Of The West' album, this session recorded in just four days by Speckmann, guitarist Alex '93' Nejezchleba and drummer Zdenek Pradlovsky.
To open 2006 the band hooked up with RESURRECTURIS, GOREFEST and LUNAFIELD for 'The Glorious Dead: European Exorcism' European tour set to commence 16th February in Holland. However, in late January the headline band pulled the entire tour. The band soon got back in the fray and, alongside ZUUL FX, supported IMPALED NAZARENE's European tour in May 2006. Further European dates set for October were to see TEMPLE OF BRUTALITY and Denmark's SUBMISSION as openers. However, this tour was cancelled shortly before kick off.
In 2007 Displeased Records re-issued MASTER's first two albums, 'Master', adding previously omitted guitar solos and different drums, and 'On the 7th day God Created Master'. A brand new album, 'Slaves To Society', was released on May 11th via Twilight-Vertrieb. The album was recorded at Shaark Studios in Bzenec in the Czech Republic by Paul Speckmann, guitarist Alex Nejezchleba and drummer Zdenek Pradlovsky.
MASTER announced North American tour dates, their first in over a decade, commencing 16th October 2008 at the Smiling Moose in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Support came from ESTUARY.
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