Black country metallers Master’s Call pack a lot in to their debut full-length offering A Journey For The Damned. The band refers to itself as ‘metal blackened by death’, and that’s a pretty good descriptor of the heavy but refined sound they pump out on tracks like the snappy Blood on the Altar.

Four of the seven tracks featured on the album weigh in at over six minutes in length, but it’s a tribute to the band’s self-editing skills that as a listener you rarely, if ever, find your mind wandering across to what you might have for tea this evening. They keep themselves and you focused with snappy arrangements and performances, and if there’s nothing here that could be actively described as ‘original’ there’s plenty that you’ll find yourself coming back to again again as the band infuse everything they do with a freshness that’s a real joy to behold.

Producer Kristian Bonifer has given the band a huge sound – the epic intro to Into The Abyss Once More is kitchen sink metal at it’s absolute finest – and it’s a sound that swamps the listener; However it’s also crystal clear, affording every instrument a chance to breathe and take it’s place in the spotlight. The band got through three vocalists in the gestation period of AJFTD, finally settling on guitarist John Wilcox, and Bonifer really gives this ‘non-singer’ a fabulous power and punch in the final mix that would have you thinking he’s a ten-album veteran behind the mic if you didn’t know better… Props to all involved!

Closing track Pathways is probably the best exemplar of what the band is trying to achieve – punchy extreme metal with a dash of classic metal panache – and it points to a great future for a band that seem to have hit the ground running despite some trials and tribulations. This is a great start and I can’t wait to see where the guys take things from here!

A Journey For The Damned releases on November 24th.