Sometime around early 1984 or so, I happened to catch Chicago's very own traditional metal band War Cry at a bar in Skokie that was doing a "teen night" sort of thing. Heading up the festivities were War Cry, a traditional/ pop metal band that was flirting with glam and was, therefore, quite boring as I had left Shout At The Devil and Out Of The Cellar in the dust for Show No Mercy and Kill 'Em All a year or so prior. However, the bassist for War Cry obviously did not fit, as he was wearing a Slayer t-shirt. The bassist turned out to be Paul Speckmann.
Maybe a year or so later, some friends of mine and I attended some party being put on by RPM, a metal-oriented radio show run by a couple of Northwestern University students (Skull was with me on both of these occasions). Most of the stuff they rotated through their setlist was crap, but every now and then, they'd play a track from Metallica or so. During the party, some guy kept yelling, "Why don't you fuckers play some Slayer?!" I remember catching his eye and nodding in agreement. That guy was Paul Speckmann.
I soon moved away from the Chicago area to go to college, and only sporadically returned. I missed the beginnings of Death Strike and, a little bit later, Master. If I only knew to look, I probably could've caught either in some garage somewhere; but, alas, I never did get the chance to see Speckmann in Master.
I finally had my chance last Friday night as Master put in a very rare appearance in Los Angeles. I was thoroughly wiped out from a killer week at work; but, even going on just four hours of sleep or so for each of the previous three nights, I was determined to hit this show (I also said that about a rare appearance from Krieg scheduled for the following night, but, unfortunately, I didn't make it off my couch after 5pm the next day). The opening headliner of a semi-formal, more or less low level, couple of weeks long "festival" of underground acts scattered all over Los Angeles, Master played over a bunch of no-names at The Joint, a venue in West L.A. Included, however, were semi-locals Sacrificial Slaughter and Fisthammer, both being decent death metal acts with Sacrificial Slaughter definitely being the better of the two.
Most of the openers that I happened to catch were pretty lousy, but Pro-Fe-Cia were worth a laugh. Before their appearance, their "roadies" walked amongst the very sparse crowd, handing out flyers of the band printed on glossy paper with multiple colors. Who knows how many ink cartridges were burned setting all of this up? Then, as Pro-Fe-Cia made their grand appearance on stage, they were preceded by professional photographers with high end cameras who were assigned with capturing it all for posterity. Say, what?!
Pro-Fe-Cia are pedestrian, crunchy death metal with barked vocals in Spanish; but, they are obviously going for the laughs by being a semi-parody of Brujeria. Rather than cloaking themselves in drug cartel mystique, though, the celebration is for all things Lucha Libre with the vocalist donning a wrestling mask. During their set, he would periodically disappear backstage, only to emerge with cheap band t-shirts that he would subsequently make a big deal of displaying to the crowd; then, he would toss the shirts out to the various punters in the crowd, who, by now, were setting about consuming mass quantities of Dos Equis in salutation. Bizarre.
As I expected, Fisthammer were decent with a short set that showed some promise. A tightening up of the musicianship and getting rid of the high-pitched shrieks would probably be a good idea, but Fisthammer were worth a look. Sacrificial Slaughter were much better with their all-out assault of grindcore-tinged gore/ death metal. Fast as Hell with a very loud delivery and powerful vocals, I enjoyed Sacrificial Slaughter's also relatively short set. A split with Enfuneration on Horror Pain Gore Death Productions from a few months back is my only prior exposure to Sacrificial Slaughter , but they've just released a new album on Ossuary Industries entitled The Great Oppression that I intend to track down in some manner.
After Sacrificial Slaughter finished, I noticed Paul Speckmann manning the merchandise table for a few minutes before he was set to get ready to perform. I made a point of going over to say hello and to buy a classic Death Strike shirt from him. He turned out to be quite nice and graciously chatted with me for a few minutes.
Finally, after a very long night, Master took the stage to a crowd of about 40 people or so crowding into The Joint. Master is basically Speckmann and, although he records with a regular cadre of musicians, this tour featured a live session guitarist and drummer. No matter; Speckmann and company raced through a slew of Master and Death Strike classics, including "Funeral Bitch," "Pledge Of Allegiance," "The Truth," "Slaves To Society," and "The New Elite."
Classic death metal.
Master Official Facebook
I had some camera problems (bad battery). So, here are a few iPhone shots.
An interesting sculpture at The Joint...
The t-shirt haul (front and back)....