“You’re nothing but a vindictive miscreant!” spit-snarls Master mainman Paul Speckmann to open this one, his primary band’s 14th album in twice as many years.
Of course, with the band’s single-minded stylistic focus, each individual Master album comes down to living and dying by the songs that comprise it. Whereas some earlier Master efforts don’t hold up as well as others – Faith Is In Season feels a bit lackluster, as does Spirit Of The West, which actually attempts some diversity, albeit to its own detriment – Vindictive Miscreant’s eight tracks are all primo Master, from the palpable disgust of the title track and the swaggering gallop of “The Inner Strength Of The Demon” to the sludgy hooky riff of “Engulfed In Paranoia” and the hard-charging close of “Stand Up And Be Counted.” The production is rock-solid; Alex Nejezchleba’s guitars are thick and sharp and Pradlovsky’s drums are perfectly punchy beneath Speckmann’s inimitable rasping retch.
The only minor quibble comes in the length of most of these tracks; with five of its eight songs hovering around the six-minute mark, and only two wrapping up in fewer than four minutes, this is Master’s longest batch of songs on average. With those relatively straightforward structures and that relentless lack of deviation, tracks like “The Book” do feel a hair longer than necessary. (Even “Engulfed,” with its chorus riff among the album’s highlights, suffers a similar fate.) Still, those lengths aren’t quite too long – merely approaching it – and Vindictive Miscreant never bores, even if it could’ve been shored up a bit, so take that concern with a sizable grain of salt.
At the end of the day, Master is as Master does, and when they’re firing on all cylinders like they are here, they do it very, very well. If you’ve been keeping up, keep on keeping up.