Chicago-based death metal band Master has been the primary musical vehicle for journeyman vocalist and bassist Paul Speckmann since the start of the 1990s, but his first known sighting dates back to 1982, as a short-term member of local power metal hopefuls, War Cry, who appeared on Metal Blade’s Metal Massacre IV compilation. Speckmann and his rhythm partner, drummer Bill Schmidt, soon fell out with their band mates over creative differences (the duo wanted to play more extreme heavy metal, the others wanted to wimp out), but their new band took some time taking shape while they auditioned as many as 25 guitarists, without finding their man.

In the meantime, Speckmann became involved in another side project called Death Strike and Schmidt with a band called Mayhem (no relation to the Norwegian black metal clan), and so it wasn’t until 1985 that their collaboration was revived with the recruitment of guitarist Chris Mittelbrun — thus was born Master. Taking money he had recently inherited from his father, Speckmann paid for some studio time to record an album-length demo, and this quickly spread Master’s name through the heavy metal underground, thanks to the worldwide tape trading network that bound fans together at the time.

But record companies seemingly weren’t ready for the band’s savage brand of thrash yet (and Master didn’t care for the only deal offered by Combat), so the trio would continue to struggle for another five years before securing a deal for the eponymous Master album’s release in 1990. By then, Speckmann had become temporarily distracted with other bands like Funeral Bitch and Abomination, and the original trio were splitting up, but positive fan reaction to Master’s exciting death/thrash direction urged Speckmann to draft new guitarist Paul Masvidal (later of Death, Cynic, etc.) and drummer Aaron Nickeas for 1991′s sophomore On the 7th Day God Created…Master.

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