I can only imagine the communal sum of all the shit that has gone down in the past decade since Czech warriors Maniac Butcher have delivered a humble, yet brute ass whooping to the masses. I transitioned from a 20 something to a 30 something. I survived one maniacal President of my country for 8 years, only to be thrown under the bus of another seemingly maniacal President. I shifted careers a number of times, went back to and finished University. Graduated. Move on. Moved to several new addresses. Even beyond the personal, the landscape of an entire world has changed, even the face of metal music itself. We got garbage like Metalocalypse, the excess follies of folk metal, deathcore, and horrible fairy metal bullshit took a turn for the popular due to scrap acts like Nightwish and Lacuna Coil, the 'New Wave of American Horseshit', the mindless revival of kiddie thrashers attempting to be someone they never were when it mattered. Madness, I say!
From the gloom and din of ever shifting times, the Czech barbarians emerge in 2010 as if this past epoch had never transpired. The world has gone soft, in the brains and in the muscles, and Barbarud Hrom and Vlad Blasphemer have returned to beat it repeatedly with a morning star that has seen more battle than an inner city youth. Hail, it is about fucking time! Masakr is the band's 7th full-length splatter platter, and it mirrors all the simplicity and excellent writing the band used in the past through records like the debut Barbarians, the Lucan-Antikrist or the more recent Invaze. Six anthems of blasphemy doled out in the band's native tongue, and quite impressively mixed. The band sounds brighter and more bloody than ever before, and the motto of 'No keyboards!! no female vocals!! Only pure black metal!!' is still represented in their delivery, though the band might make a synthesized exception for an intro or interlude (we can accept this!)
Maniac Butcher are essentially the aural component to a parallel world in which Robert E. Howard novels or the most bloodiest, Dark Ages of history are the norm and the now. Simple thrusts and jabs of wretched black metal with superb if primal riff compositions. The band have been around for such a long time that their peers could only be counted among the originators of this field, like a Bathory, Mayhem or Hellhammer. The riffs are forceful and engaging, the drums a steady hand-turned fleshgrinder which is not running short of corpse supply any time soon, and the vocals diabolic and absurd like vagabonds and hags picking through the remnants and spoils of war once the grand violence is done. Masakr is a brief campaign, enduring about 30 minutes of length, but it never once wears out its welcome or fails to deliver a ravaging campaign of bloodthirsty Hessian savagery.
"Desatero krutych zim prezitych v teple zhnouci zare slavy minule" heralds the red dawn with the screech of eagles and ravens, the tumult of low, swollen synth warfare collapsed into a riffing storm that clouts you over the head and drags you back to the cave like a neanderthal, as if you were to be that night's main course. Once the band cruise into their mid-paced Hellhammer style riffing, you just want to smash your spiked armbands into the nearest human edifice, drawing pain and crushing all hopes for a better tomorrow. "Projizdka hvozdem hlubokym za oucelem scitani stavuch vlkuch a vlkodlakuch" opens at a thrashing pace, surging into melodic fire while the bass plods along almost too innocently for this grim field of war. "Rozhodnuti nezvratne vsecken mir rozhodne rozvracejici" is perhaps the best of the album, with a fantastic verse guitar that rekindles the fires of 90s bombast and a particularly rasping vocal fragment as the pummeling, melodic muted black/thrash of the chorus parts for hammering double bass. What a fantastic song this is!
But it does not end with the first three chapters, because the band picks right up for "Bezbozne rouhani zpovedni před tazeni vojnoveho zapocetim", with a winding, hostile black/death metal rhythm that pulses like an amputated vein over the steadiness of the mid-paced drumming thunder, soon bursting into a climbing wall of vile chord climax. 'Masakr krvavy pro plneni zajmuch vyssich i rezniceni nadbytecne pro kojeni puduch nizkych' speeds up with frenetic melodies which feel akin to a flutter of vampiric vultures picking over the bones of the ghastly theater of spent flesh in human conflict, and the final piece "Zakonceni oudesne bezpoctum krutou jistotu slibujici, vsak mne bezpocet slibnych nejistot skytajici" is a mid speed crusher with some jangling, venomous guitars that haunt above the mind like specters of no remorse, and a surge of power like a tank slowly rolling across the human remains.
For such a hiatus, Maniac Butcher are in truly fine form, and Masakr is honestly the equal, if not the superior, of any hostile statements the band have written in the past. Sure, it might lack some of that cryptic, old school produce as with Barbarians, but its so well written and balanced to never tire the listener despite the fact its such stock, primitive black metal, the likes of which we've heard thousands of times by now. That the Czechs can infuse this formula with such life, or rather taking of life, in this new decade is a grisly testament that doing something 'right' is just as valid as doing something 'innovative'. You can very easily close your eyes here and dream of your breath turning to frost as you retrieve your axe from the nearest body you have emptied of its spiritual host, and scan the horizon to see the wolfs and buzzards making their carnal rounds, examining you eye to eye to determine if you'll be the next to fall. It's so effective that it makes the listener want to live in this horrifying world, as the best black of traditional black metal always has. So grab the nearest war hammer or morning star, don your spikes and chained mail and join me. Fuck the hipsters. Hail Maniac Butcher!
Verdict: Epic Win [9/10]