Vision Master – Sceptre (Gates of Hell Records)

Wednesday, 30th August 2023
Rating: 9 / 10

A duo from Washington who have experience in numerous death, crossover, and heavy metal acts (namely Christian Mistress and Funerot), Vision Master draw from a mixture of old school, punk, and black metal influences on this full-length debut Sceptre. Dan Murno handles vocals/guitars, while Reuben Story tackles the bass/drums – as listeners can expect an eclectic group of tracks that drip in obscure to classic 80’s influences across US/European landscapes, sprinkling in the raw, primal spirit of punk, hardcore or black textures to fill out the sound.

The immediacy of tones achieved through the home studio work from both musicians (bolstered by engineer Tony Jefferson and mastering duties from Justin Weis) allows for deep sonic appeal as the layers of vocals, guitars, bass, and drum work unfold. Dan’s main guitar duties include strong main riff hooks that often branch out into a multitude of harmonic/melodic extensions, where the runs can be very much in the Slough Feg / Celtic vein for one run, then travel into blackened tremolo mystique the next. His vocal phrasing/voicing has an outer universe presence, much like Snake of Voivod meets King Diamond during his early Mercyful Fate days to mirror any odd transitions or fluid time signature switches Reuben throws down in his progressive/ groove-laden drum measures. Add in a conceptual framework where futuristic worlds with a biological network spans numerous cities and the only hope for mankind relies on xenon gas stores, and its very apparent that songs like “Knife in a Velvet Glove”, the doom-like “Walls of Bone”, plus energetic fire-burning closer “Thin Veil” possess that necessary multi-sensory appeal to grab your attention while engaging a deeper, intense dive through successive playbacks.

Although the songs aren’t overly long (most hitting the three to four-minute mark), the diverse attack properly keeps Vision Master in a classification that is all unto themselves – compiling the best aspects of artists like Brocas Helm, Slough Feg, and Mercyful Fate into a twisted electric circus hard to forget. Sceptre hopefully is only the beginning of a very fruitful career for this two-piece, as legions across the globe will champion these songs for quite some time.

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