Lizza Hasan – vocals MASTERLAST GENRES
Val Glauser – guitars
C-Drike – machines
William Valentine – bass
John Macaluso - Drums
Fueled by surging yet futuristic rhythms, heroic guitar fireworks, and the radical range of vocalist Lizza Hasan, Masterlast is a pageant for the senses with a pan-world approach that embraces while replenishing.
Formed in 2002 in a run-down lower east side New York apartment by two of the most imposing and forward-thinking women of metal – Lizza Hasan and Val Glauser, Masterlast is set to take their progressive yet extreme power to the masses with Mastery Of Self, follow-up to an indie debut EP from ‘04 that confounded yet delighted the few privileged enough to ingest its magic mushrooms.
The band’s sound is woven from many intelligent metal threads, reinforced by a credo of positivism that leaps from Lizza’s aggression. Offers co-writer of the album, guitarist Val, “Musically, we incorporate heavy metal with industrial metal, but in an uplifting context. There are heavy guitar riffs, but there are also metal elements in Lizza's vocals as well, her having listened to bands like Morbid Angel, Benediction and Alice in Chains. She sings in a very low, guttural voice. We also have some Middle Eastern and European influences, because of course, we come from abroad – Lizza from Israel, me from Switzerland. There’s also a little bit of a pop/rock – I love Abba, AC/DC, Prince – as well as a tribal, spiritual element going on. It’s a mix of several things; pretty cool and different, that came very easily to us since Lizza and I experience such a songwriting chemistry.”
Indeed, the strength of these songs comes not only from Lizza’s acrobatic, hugely varied, often terror-inducing vocals, but also the intellectual heft and the tensile quality of the guitar riffs. Comments Val, “I'm the lead guitar player, which is still pretty rare in this metal world, that you have a female, basically playing lead. So it makes things pretty flashy.”
The combination of Lizza and Val – along with the services of prog metal drumming legend John Macaluso and bassist Will Valentine– makes for an intensely exotic and mentally challenging listening experience. Add the programming of Cedric “C-Drike” Aegerter, and you’ve got a dizzying display of sonic layering that makes these tracks spring to life. Wake Up has one of the most powerful, passionate, hook-drenched choruses to hit alternative metal in years, while both Think Of The Day and lead single and opener I Ache hit like a ten-ton sledge.
“Well, I thought these songs in particular were the most well-achieved as far as songwriting goes,” comments Glauser. We also have more “atmosphere” oriented songs like Monkeys and Shout your way out that show the more exotic and tribal side of the band”. “All these songs really present what the vibe of Masterlast is, there is energy, there is the electronics, the songwriting is great… I love it.”
Ah yes, the electronics – this is perhaps the hidden weapon of the band, given that Cedric has unlocked some sort of magical kingdom, especially when working with the drum-mad world music element of the band brought by its globe-trotting leaders. A sort of technicolor pastiche is achieved, one that combines the earthiness of Sepultura’s Roots with introspective moments from Nine Inch Nails, incidentally a favorite of Cedric’s. Laughs Glauser, “Cedric's universe, his sonic universe, is really tribal and pretty strange, and he really complements the music very well. His vibe lends the record extra complexity.”
The title of the album goes in the same direction as the band name, basically - a new agey, philosophical, esoteric kind of direction, with respect to learning how to master your demons. The name could have many different levels of significance. Visually, we have a circle symbol, which denotes completeness; it's a very positive simple, very feminine as well, because the band is fronted by two women, who are very energetic and charismatic on stage. And this is a big marketing point I guess (laughs).”
Marketing points become unnecessary once one delves into and gets lost within this strident feast for the ears. A headphone album in the extreme and for the extreme, Mastery Of Self is sure to floor discerning fans of bands such as Opeth, Agalloch, Katatonia, Disturbed, System of a Down and even Otep.
United States of America (New York)
MASTERLAST CURRENT RECORD LABEL
MASTERLAST CURRENT LINE-UP
Lizza Hasan - Vocals (Mahavatar)
Val Glauser - Guitars (GSX)
Cedric ``C-Drike`` Aegerter - Samples/Programming
Will Valentine - Bass
John Macaluso - drums (Starbreaker, ex-Mullmuzzler, MCM, ex-Riot, ex-Holy Mother, ex-TNT (Nor), Powermad, ex-Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Ark, Chris Caffery, John Macaluso & Union Radio)