"Masters of Evil"

By Colonel Angus

I was a huge fan of the last year’s “Satan’s Tomb” E.P. from Denner/Shermann.  It was a solid slab of melodic and demonic heavy metal that while channeling the spirit of Mercyful Fate (how could it not), it moved the needle forward and gave it a slightly updated sound.  My only worry was that it might work on smaller scale and once it was upgraded to a full-on record, it might get boring.  My fears have been vanquished after a few spins of “Masters of Evil”.  I should not have worried because I have been a fan of everything that Michael Denner and Hank Shermann have done (yes, I did like the Fate record) but like most marriages, the sum is greater than the parts.  They are one of the best guitar duos in metal possessing the riffing prowess of Tipton/Downing and the melody of Michael Schenker, creating a sound of their own.  The rhythm section is top notch as well.  Snowy Shaw has always put in great drum performances and Marc Grabowski fits in nicely with this crew.  I have read many reviews where people complain about Sean Peck’s vocals but on both releases, he puts in a great performance.  He has the high screams that remind you of King Diamond but he also gives one of the best Ozzy vocals I have ever heard (listen to “The Wolf Feeds at Night” and you would think Ozzy made a cameo).  I really like his vocals on “Masters of Evil” and had he added some of the “newer” grunts and groans, it would have ruined the disc.

This full album release is not that long at eight songs but it is the perfect length.  I have been championing bands who follow the old days of putting out records around the 45 minute mark.  As an artist, I would feel that you could really focus on less and perfect that as opposed to trying to fill up more time.  More is not always better.  And as a listener, we are able to enjoy records (yes, the full album like the artist intended) without having to block off a large amount of time.  That being said, “Masters of Evil” works well as a whole statement without getting boring or overstaying it’s welcome.  It is really hard for me to pick out a few high points because, quite honestly, the disc is full of high points.  Even after over a dozen spins (the whole records from start to finish by the way), I can’t pick a couple of favorites.  “Angel’s Blood” is a great power metal opening track but the plodding riffs that start “Son of Satan” is just as good.  The guitar intro to “Masters of Evil” is classic Denner/Shermann and things don’t let up one iota until the end of “The Baroness”.  “Satan’s Tomb” made it into my top 10 of 2015 and even though the year is only slightly half over, I can’t see how “Masters of Evil” doesn’t make it into my top 10 of 2016.