I recently acquired the new Cultes des Ghouls album Coven and of course, it’s fucking amazing. It’s a “concept” album told in a music play format with scenes and a cast of characters and even a script like lyric book that came with the CD. It’s an ambitious album to be sure.

But Kevin, clearly from the title we’re not here to talk about Cultes des Ghoules. Fair enough. It turns out that Cultes des Ghoules was inspired by Master’s Hammer’s second album Jilemnický okultista. I fucking love Master’s Hammer, and it’s astonishing that they haven’t been featured on here before, yet I’d not heard this album, so it seemed like a sign to check out an album from a band I love and find out how it inspired another band I love.

Master’s Hammer hails from the Czech Republic and was busy toiling away creating bizarre black metal (along with fellow countrymen Root) at the same time the Norwegians were getting all the attention. Their first album Ritual is a bonafide black metal masterpiece and one of my favorite albums. They just put out a killer new album this year as well.

On this album, the self proclaimed “black metal operetta”, the album unfolds in a play like, or opera fashion, with the overture kicking things off. Master’s Hammer has a unique sound that is hard to define as is but on this album, they surely add an operatic or symphonic quality to their ritualistic, bludgeoning European style.  It’s grand in it’s approach and maybe a bit cheesy at combining the opera style but I think it works amazingly. Plenty of bands followed suit with this approach to black metal in the following years and I’ve read statements claiming this is the first example of a concept/coherent storyline in black metal. I’m not sure if that’s true or not but it is an early example of it, and a fucking masterful one at that.