Wednesday, November 21, 2012

CTP 007 - I: Master Fury - Circles Of Hell

Contaminated Tones is extremely proud to announce it's first Pro CD release, Master Fury - Circles of Hell. This compendium of Master Fury's long since sold out, and rare first and second albums is the first time this material will be available on CD. Born in the 1970's in Trenton, New Jersey, Master Fury existed in some form for over a decade before finally putting out their first album, Hell Party (1988), a Speed Metal hammer to the skull and Circles of Hate (1989), the refinement of crushed body bits and uncontrollable aggression. 

Both albums have gotten some much needed auditory updating and are ready to work their way into the cranium and tear the skull apart from the inside out. Currently accepting pre-orders for this album and those interested in distributing this release should get in touch pretty quickly. The planned release date is mid-December for this.

Order: $10.00

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No trades on this release. 


12/31/2013 Aristocrazia Zine

After having talked about Black Chalice and Lamentations Of The Ashen in recent weeks, let's keep on examining the releases of Contaminated Tones Productions: the label is this time engaged in a search that delved into the archives of metallic history in order to recover some twenty-five years old material. The object of this operation is Master Fury, U.S. trio formed in the late seventies which released two albums between 1988 and 1989 and split up shortly after. The covered release, "Circles Of Hell", encloses all the music contained in their two albums, "Hell Party" and "Circles Of Hate".

When the compilation begins with the songs taken from "Hell Party", the roots of the Master Fury's music becomes immediately obvious: songs like "Crash", "All Men Are Blind" and "Riot" exhibit the rawness of early Venom and the fury of early Sodom, as well as the refined delicacy in songwriting that was always present in this kind of releases. Classic Thrash-Speed hits our ears while we are listen to "Semper Furious", "Flat Against The Wall" and "Road Hog": the music is aggressive, rude, dirty, fast and recalls the early Exodus, Razor and Whiplash. These words can complete a simple and effective description of what was contained in "Hell Party".

The songs are short, immediate and without space nor time for any kind of nicety, or technicality: some solos without frills, some occasional hint of eighties-derivated melodies ("Time Is Right") and then again thrashing, rough riffs with the sole purpose of being as loud as possible.

Despite only a year passed between the two releases, we can immediately perceives a leap forward when the opening song of "Circles Of Hate" ("Die In You Sleep") begins: the genre references remains the same, but the production is cleaner and the compositions are more mature and varied. The performance is aligned to the classic Thrash of the middle eighties, and in songs like "Lies", "Circus Of Hate", "Corporate War" and "Life's A Bitch" you will easily recognize influences from Metallica, Slayer, Testament, Anthrax, Nuclear Assault, and so on.

The average running time of each song becomes more consistent, the compositional schemes are more elaborated and aware (thanks to the good effect of a less raw recording), and occasionally some dark mid-tempo also come out: all this makes the material more intriguing than the simple blind and bestial fury of "Hell Party".

Thrash fanatics, collectors and metal archaeologists: go on and recover this age-old piece of music (now limited to three hundred copies) that had remained buried in the bowels of the eighties. To close my review, I think the better words are the ones written on the back of the "Hell Party" tape's artwork: if not completely satisfied with the contents of this product, go jump off a bridge and die!

09/20/2013 Pure Grain Audio

You have to love labels like Contaminated Tones Productions because without them a lot of cool stuff would fall to the wayside and never be released. As of late the label has been slowly but steadily putting out some of the more interesting things in the underground and this release is no exception.

Master Fury is a New Jersey-based thrash metal band that released a couple of albums, split up, and recently reunited. That said, this new release, Circles of Hell, is a compilation of their two previous albums, Hell Party and Circles of Hate, that were released in 88 and 89 respectively.

The band are extremely tight sound-wise with a non-stop, full speed thrash attack. Think Slayer, Overkill, and even early Megadeth and you'll have an idea of what to expect. The band never let up and the record is a fantastic listen for anyone who's a fan of 80s-era thrash. The only thing that may be off-putting for some is that production-wise Circles of Hell is quite rough. Most fans of early thrash, however, should be fine with it as most early recordings we love have similar a production value.

Overall this release is a solid, yet raw compilation of two albums by a band who never got the recognition they deserve. Thrash fans owe it to themselves to seek this one out before it goes out of print... because it's a good listen!

09/08/2013 Goul's Crypt

When you say thrash metal most people think 1980's USA. There are the essential giants like Slayer, Overkill, Testament and Metallica, and the hidden and forgotten gems like Holocross, Heretic, Powerlord and Master Fury. Formed in 1986 they only ever released 2 albums, the rough Hell Party album from 1988 and the barbarous Circles of Hate album from 1989. They went on hold for an unknown number of years and then had a brief reunion in 2010, but it wasn't before 2013 we would see another Master Fury release, the two albums compiled on Circles of Hell by Contaminated Tones Productions.

Master Fury has a very abrasive sound. Their approach to thrash metal is on the chaotic side of things and more focussed on speed and coarseness than anything else, making them probably one of the fastest bands at the time. Through the metallic din of Master Fury's aggressive guitars the amazingly precise riffs shine. Where Hell Party thrives on a coarse, simplistic thrash recipe building up to and colliding in the final mosh-inducing track "Riot" the second half of the compilation, the Circles of Hate album, takes a more technical and commonplace approach to the genre. The early material is distinguished by the near constant speed with which it is furiously provided. On Circles of Hate Master Fury were progressing as songwriters and were more comfortable with slowing down once in a while in order to build up momentum for a particularly epic solo or building atmosphere.

The band seems to have always favoured a trio-lineup consisting of the guitars and vocals of Digg Rouze and various bassists and drummers. As mentioned above Master Fury evolved as a band even if their was only 1 year between the 25-minute Hell Party and the slightly longer Circles of Hate. On tracks like Corporate War and Life's a Bitch they give way for their crossover tendencies fuelled by ferocious d-beats and gang-shouts, a style that wasn't at all present of Hell Party. I could imagine a song like Road Hog off of Hell Party being an early example of the Motörhead/Venom-inspired punky speed metal that has recently made a comeback, and there are more examples of songs that fit the bill as really good metal songs, but with the production being so muddy and deranged it's hard to make out anything other than a few riffs here and there, making the tracks hard to tell apart.

Master Fury already perfectly sum up their material with their name. Furious, fast as fuck thrash. The extremity of the albums put Master Fury somewhere in the grey area between thrash and death metal that had a couple of years prior been completely dominated by bands like Death and Possessed. Master Fury may not be the authors of the most original or memorable kind of thrash metal, but if you feel like getting your skull pounded by uncompromising riffs, powerful drumming and screaming vocals The Circles of Hell compilation is as good a way get your needs fulfilled as any. The combination of the two tracks celebrate an above-average band, though their material never quite achieves true classic or gem status. 7/10 guitars.

08/30/2013 Metal Core Zine - Interview

Master Fury Interview: "When I found out and got a copy of the Master Fury of the re-release of this band’s 2 releases, which were never on cd I had the label put me touch with singer Donald Rouze and kick back and enjoy the interview."

07/17/2013 Metal Core Zine

MASTER FURY/Circles Of Hell (Contaminated Productions) Holy shit this totally crushes and destroy. This is a re-release of this thrash metal band’s 2 releases way back when…think the 80’s ha ha. This is just prime time thrash metal at its finest. Just raw unholy thrash metal that still sounds fresh after all these years and Jon you put one hell of a release and you got 2 albums on one disc which is extra cool. This band if from NJ home of such killer 80’s thrash bands like Hades, Whiplash, Bloodfeast, Blessed Death and you add this band to that list. Just a pure thrash metal masterpiece.

05/30/2013 Burning Salts Zine

Are you like me? Are you addicted to speed? It can be a real problem getting that fix especially that fix that satisfied the need for speed. Yeah I'm talking about that drug – that is if that drug is metal played fast, loud and obviously heavy. Master Fury from New Jersey by way of Wisconsin feed that need for speed. Contaminated Tones offers up the bands discography on one CD with all thanks and applause going to the label because I seriously doubt there's much of a chance at snagging an original of one of the two albums present here Hell  party or Circles of Hate.

Really there are no complaints here other than why had I not heard of this band before. The tinny production does get matched by some of the bands grooves – if you play these songs loud enough the bass shines through and that tin-thin sound wears away into violence fury and masterful speed metal. Hell Party is a dirtier record and offers the dirty portion of this compilation album. The lead guitar a lot of the time on the Hell Party tracks likes to shred off sometimes seemingly out of place but it's all in the insanity to give the songs the fury and mayhem they already have but it just makes it that much more in your face.

The late 80s were not the greatest haven for thrash metal let alone most metal. Many thrashers of note were experimenting Metallica were creating ten minute long songs. Slayer was not at top form, Testament was adding some slower more contemplative thrash. Exodus arguably were doing Pleasures of the Flesh and Fabulous Disaster which are again arguably good records. Death Angel failed miserably after The Ultra Violence. So point being thrash was struggling after really only a brief period. Sadly bands like this that produced some good good shit went unknown because the record labels supporting thrash were already jumping ship.

The other portion of this compilation Circles of Hate has a pretty appropriate title. While jamming the album I kept thinking this would make for a bad ass circle pit live. The cuts are still fast but a bit more chunky and groove oriented kind of familiar like a bastardization of the prowess of Testament's New Order and the smash smash gallop of SOD. Now in the 2013's and recent years we have the ole retrothrash where bands that sound pretty much exactly like Master Fury are making records that just sound more produced. Forget that if you want to be retro, don't studio produce the hell out of your thrash records.

I'll give warning though, spinning all 16 cuts of this record is taxing on your head it can induce some dizziness or just the need to thrash and mosh so make sure your listening area is secured appropriately. I can't gripe too much and say oh man – those were the days considering I wasn't even a teen in the late 80s but I go back to the gripes I was making bands like this just never had much of a chance sadly. But thankfully we have fine folks to resurrect the releases and have cool cover art make the music easier to access. I've found a lot of good records through this ethic – a good example would be the somewhat recent reissue of that pre-Master band called Death Strike and a hunk of their material – that was some grade A speed, just like this. Thrash, hail kill. - B.W.

05/07/2013 From The Dust Returned

Reason #116 that small/independent label compilations of underground bands are infinitely superior than larger label collections/anthologies of 'made' bands: because they actually give a shit. And because THEY give a shit, YOU'LL give a shit. Generally when I receive discs like Circles of Hell, be they reissued discographies or demo/rarity gatherings, I make a beeline for the liner notes to read up on the band's history, and in this case, was treated to a great anecdote of the Contaminated Tones label owner, who originally encountered a Master Fury cassette in an old, dusty shoebox and fell in love with it; inevitably inspiring him to get in touch with the former New Jersey trio and discuss a re-release of both their albums. How do you not smile at that? As someone who, when old enough to finally drive, used to head out with friends to comb the used record shops in Boston with his paper route money for whatever metal and hardcore obscurities he could find, how do I not choke up on nostalgia?

Now, granted, none of that rummaging turned up any Master Fury material for me to enjoy, so I'll admit that, apart from seeing the band's name in a list or two, or possibly hearing a video on YouTube in recent years when I was researching deep underground thrash for any unknown gems I might add to my lists, I had no substantial exposure to this ex-Jersey trio. But I'm glad that has changed, because both of their albums are every bit as energetic, earnest, entertaining, and innocent as you'd expect of a hopeful speed/thrash outfit in a time when the stuff was exploding in the mid to late 80s. Okay, perhaps 'innocent' is a bad adjective for something so innocent and face-shredding as Master Fury's songwriting, but there's a peculiar, particular response I've always had to metal like this. Fast, relentless guitars playing with an intensity that made them seem like they were racing against the studio engineer's work shift before the power went out for the night; frenetic lead bursts being thrown to the wind; rampant, angry drumming with spurts of proto-extreme metal technique; and maniacal, over the top vocal charisma. Yes, that same reaction I had to Kill 'Em All or Show No Mercy when I were but a fingerling. Or Sentence of Death. Bonded by Blood. Reign in Blood. Metal Inquistion. Pleasure to Kill. Finished With the Dogs; hell, even Witchery's "The Reaper" much later.

Say what you will about the budget production values, or the lack of total innovation here: Master Fury manifests that same ardent spades, at least a dozen times across these two collected works. Thus it would be impossible for someone of my background to not begin thrashing around like a gremlin dunked in a public swimming pool after midnight. Circles of Hell definitely draws some comparisons to Whiplash, another Jersey trio, who performed with a similar brake-for-nothing abandon, interspersed with fits of flashy musicality that seemed to hint at 'contender' status against the West Coast and German scenes in dominance by the end of the 80s. But really, apart from their similar love of acceleration and uncouth, rabid vocals, the two groups do not entirely overlap. Master Fury definitely has a lighter sense of humor at times, even unintentionally, like the bridge of "Time is Right" where Queen-like anthem leads tear out over a volley of hyper punk rhythm guitars, or "Riot", which starts out with a speed metal spy aesthetic reminiscent of Wrathchild America, but trust me: they're still extremely aggressive.

Hell Party (1988). Definitely the rougher of the two recordings, possibly due to the transfer, I read that this had some limited involvement from Rich Harter (of Harter Attack, another lost Jersey thrash act). This shit hits like a barrage of old Metallica meets Whiplash/Nuclear Assault, with meticulous rhythm guitars that are often adorned with the frivolous leads I mentioned above. The boxcutter guitar rhythm tone is by far the most powerful element, but the bass and drums pop through, and the vocals, which feel like an ungodly East Coast alternative to the late Keith Deen (Holy Terror), retch and bark like a crate of salacious imps just imported from some preschool in Hell. In what might be seen as an 80s thrash tradition (at least in some circles), this album opens with an instrumental, which to be honest would have been even better with vocals, but quickly sets the pace for most of the material here. And that might be one of my only real issues, that you don't get a great deal of variation in the songwriting. They blaze, and blaze some more, with only a few points like "Riot" where it mildly changed up. On the other hand, the songs are concise and engaging, you never really get bored, only exhausted, and ultimately the speed metal excess here is pure spectacle.

Circles of Hate (1989). The more mature, gestated of the pair. While I won't say that I enjoyed it more than its predecessor, I appreciate that they varied up the material, with slower riffs churning off against the inevitable blitzkriegs of dexterity. I felt that the lead harmonies in tunes like "Die In Your Sleep" and "Son of Man" were catchier and better plotted than the first record. The vocals are still quite nasty, but at times he has dialed down the feral edge so that you can better understand what he's saying. The riff selection is more surgical, but I do have to admit, ironically, now that they've got a few slower progressions in there, I found those to be among the least interesting on both the albums (with the exception of "The Way", which had a great, airy, eerie breakdown melody comparable to something like Excel). At any rate, Circles of Hate clearly was a step ahead in terms of ambition and refinement, which made sense at a time when a lot of similar bands were also coming into their own. The musicianship is better, the lyrics and themes just as relevant as anyone else out there, and its the sort of record, that, had there been less saturation of the style by the end of the 80s, might have made some greater waves in the underground press.

Alas, Master Fury did not prove to be the next Megadeth- or Testament-in-waiting, but in today's climate of rethrash hysteria and the genuine nostalgia and reconnection of the 30 and 40-something audience, I think there's a great chance more people would appreciate the band. Militant aggression (partly due to Digg Rouze's stint in the service prior to the albums), street savvy, striking musicianship, and an utter lack of compromise; just as radioactive as anything else to emerge from the Garden State. Fans of Whiplash, Holy Terror, (early) Kreator, Sadus, Dark Angel, Razor, Zoetrope, Tankard and Sodom are genetically wired to enjoy efforts like these, so I would not hesitate for a moment to recommend checking out the collection. The production is hardly cutting edge, and perhaps the riffs and choruses weren't half so memorable as many of the other acts coming out in that Golden Age of the genre, but regardless they feel crisp, fresh, timeless, and authentic, which is more than I can say for a lot of the retro peddlers. Circles of Hell is a great value, getting it all in one place like this, because there's not much of a chance the rest of us will be finding it in a shoebox of tapes at the local Salvation's Army...though you never know what the hell else is out there. Start digging. And let me know what you find.

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