The United States are often seen as culturally hegemonic in many areas, for better or for worse, and have dominated at least popular culture in the Western world for many decades. One location where this does not apply, however, is the shadow fields of black metal. While there has always been a steady stream of USBM bands, forming various currents, they have rarely been as well known or genre defining as their Scandinavian, or even Greek, counterparts. Perhaps that is the reason why One Master have passed me by, despite being active for the better part of 15 years. Either that, or my interest in this and many other genres is simply too flimsy to give me any kind of picture of these things any more. Since the band’s previous album Reclusive Blasphemy made it onto Loudwire’s, Metal Sucks’ and Metal Insider’s “Best Metal Records” lists in 2015, that might just be it. Regardless: Lycanthropic Burrowing is One Master’s fourth full length album, and it is released by Eternal Death Records.
The style is raw, with a primitive but rather balanced production adding to a certain sense of whirling chaos. Echoes of 90’s Norwegian black metal abound, with some slight touches of black/thrash. The most immediate comparison would be the most aggressive and least Viking oriented parts of Satyricon’s Nemesis Divina, but countrymen Judas Iscariot might actually provide a better one. It’s not all minor chords and Transilvanian Hunger-esque guitar lines, even though such make up a sizable portion of the music. The simple opening riff of “The Black Bat”, for instance, sounds like nothing I’ve really heard before, and such original little tidbits are dotted throughout the album.
The band’s bio describes them as “occult black metal practitioners”, and song titles like “The Claws of Dionysus” and “Death Resurrection” might indicate some strange and amazing lyrical content. Unfortunately, in the tradition of the promo CD’s of yore, promo packages almost never contain lyrics, a fact which prevents me from saying much about that topic. My educated guess would be that they do not cover the implications of the G20 meeting in Hamburg or ruminate on accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior, but these days you never know. The cover is impressive, with a halo sporting devil straddling a horrific maze, and fits the sound of the music very well.