Mastery - Pays homage to the classic bay-area thrash - 19/05/2007

In a time when musical talent is put aside in favor of fashion and rock star poses, heavy metal awaits a return to the glory days of technical proficiency and pure aggression that will knock it on its collective ass. Toronto based MASTERY are preparing to revive the glory days with the release of Lethal Legacy, an album that pays tribute to the scene’s metallic roots while forging a new path to lead the scene kicking and screaming into the future, all without uttering a single word.


MASTERY are the first instrumental Thrash band I know and they surely passed with honours one of the most daring Metal experiments possible. Their first album is a punch of pure aggressiveness, with a pair of extraordinary guitarists, pumping bass lines and killing drums these guys manage to create a pool of acid, corrosive to the bone and with a heavy, blasting rhythm that shocks every neuron in your abused brain.


The brainchild of guitarist Markus Armellini, MASTERY was created with a desire to develop a band that fused the blazing aggression of hardcore thrash with the technical prowess of progressive metal. The search for a vocalist that could compliment the intensity and aggression of the music proved to be a challenge...but not one that could hold the band back from taking their music to the stage.


Mastery’s debut album, ‘Lethal Legacy’, was recently released through Sanctuary Records in Europe and the album has been receiving major buzz within the metal community with praise from Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles and Metal Maniacs who said, “While Lethal Legacy pays homage to the classic bay-area thrash of the late ‘80s/early ‘90s with bands like Testament, Forbidden, Vio-lence and Metallica, it doesn’t sound as if the band are pinning for the glory days.”


So we tracked down Mastery’s guitarist Markus Armellini to ask him some questions about this excellent release, this is what he has tot say!!!

First of all, I’m not that familiar with your band, so can you tell us something about Mastery, how did you get this band together?

Markus: I started Mastery back in 2001 when I first got together with a singer and wrote a few songs together, but it never took off outside the rehearsal space.  About 3 years ago I got together with Jeff, the lead guitarist, he responded to an ad I’d put in the paper. We connected very quickly with each other´s playing style and started working on some songs right away. It took just about a year to find Kevan our drummer. And that was pretty much the first official line up, still without a bass player though.


Another thing I´d like to know: why did you guys make an instrumental album, couldn’t you wait for a singer?

Markus: Well how long can you wait (hehe)? And that was really what happened to us. I mean, we tried several people out and none of them could really cut it, so we found ourselves in the same spot all the time, ‘without a singer’.


At what point did you decide to record an instrumental album?

Markus: We thought at first that we should put a demo together, so that we can give it out to people and hopefully that way we could speed up the process of finding a singer. But then all of a sudden we started to make these big plans on how we’d record and stuff and so we knew that this would become more than just a demo. Realistically we didn’t think too much about not having a vocalist on the record, we were just excited to record and just went ahead and did it.


Did you have a record deal at that point? if not, was it difficult to get one, if so what did the record company think about recording an instrumental album?

Markus: No, we didn’t have a record deal then or right now for that matter, we got a distribution deal. We knew right away that the idea of an instrumental thrash album would probably raise questions with record companies and so we bypassed that step and went straight for distro.



Are you still searching for a singer in the band, if so what type of singer are you looking for or do you plan to stay instrumental?

Markus: This is a good question…we’re most definitely open to the idea of having a singer in the band, but once again, it’s a question of getting the right person for the job.


How did you launch into writing material for ‘Lethal Legacy’, did you have a certain idea of what you wanted to do or where there any elements you definitely wanted to have on the album?

Markus: We’re playing fairly fast music, so that was definitely my main focus, to keep the speed and energy throughout the songs and the whole album.


Was it a conscious decision to do it this way?

Markus: Absolutely. I wanted to make sure that there is no time to breath or give anybody the chance to skip a song hehe….


Had you already written any lyrics for the songs on your debut album, if so can you tell me something about them?

Markus: No lyrics were ever written for any of the songs. Of course with the individual titles of the songs there are themes, stories that go with them but so far nothing past the title.


Your album had already been released in 2006 in Canada (and the US) on Spinerazor records I think, why did we have to wait so long in Europe?

Markus: This is our debut album and it took a bit longer than expected before we were able to shift our focus on Europe. Sorry about that, won’t happen again!!!


How did the recording process proceed for ‘Lethal Legacy’, where did you record this album and how much time did you spend in the studio?

Markus: We had this crazy idea to record the drums in a Chapel at a wedding resort. Kevan knew of that place and so we made arrangements to go there for a week. It was actually pretty cool, it allowed us to have a lot more freedom with the whole process but also a lot more work as we handled the engineering side of things ourselves. The guitars and bass were recorded at Fifth Dimension studios in Courtice, Ontario. Not a big studio, but it got the job done. It took us several months to get it all done. I guess we didn’t really have a deadline of some sort, so we took our time with it.


Have you received any feedback yet on the new album yet from Europe? How do you feel about ‘Lethal Legacy’ – are you satisfied with the outcome or would you have liked to have changed anything in retrospective?

Markus: I haven’t heard too much yet but I should hope there’s lots to come hehe.



Do you have any favorites on ‘Lethal Legacy’, songs that you think are somehow above the others?

Markus: No real favorites really…. ‘Numeration’ is maybe the one that stands out to me the most just because the arranging on it turned out so cool.


You guys are from Canada, was it hard to sell your style there as the music scene there is dominated pop-music?

Markus: I mean, we play metal, so we don’t deal with the mainstream crap anyway but there’s an underground scene everywhere, no matter where you live.


What do you think about the metal scene in Canada, are there any good new bands that we should know about?

Markus: The scene here is pretty good actually, there’s tons of bands from Canada that  make headlines around the world. A lot of good metal here. Can’t think of any particular new bands right now but you already know all the big acts like Annihilator, Kataklysm etc.


Have you launched into writing a new album yet? If so, can you tell us something more about it. How does Mastery work when they create new songs and did the instrumental thing changed your writing style?


Markus: Yes, there is new material for the next album already and you can expect a few surprises on it as well….. I can’t really say more at this point in that regard otherwise it wouldn’t ‘be’ a surprise now would it hehe..

The writing style has definitely changed to a degree where things get a bit more complex but I can guarantee you it will be ‘fast and heavy’!!!

What about the future for Mastery, when can we expect some shows in Holland and/or Europe?

Markus: We finished a US tour not too long ago and plans for a European tour are in the works but nothing concrete yet. Hopefully in the fall time we’ll make it there.


Ok, now some questions to enable our readers to get to know you a little better.

How did you get involved in the music business and what inspired you to play thrash music?

Markus: When I first started playing guitar, once I had the basics down, I just started with going faster and faster hehe….that and a good amount of aggression and anger you’ll get to thrash!


What songs and bands do you listen to these days?

Markus: I’m a huge fan of the Bay-Area thrash bands. That’s definitely my main influence. Exodus and Slayer is on my play list right now.


What is your opinion on the thrash scene these days, is there anything missing?

Markus: You know, there’s a lot of great musicians out there….I’m just not so sure about a lot of singers though….


Which album has been your biggest musical influence, one that made you think “this is what I want to do!”?

Markus: There’s not one in particular but the early Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth albums did it for me!


Okay, if you could choose three bands to get on stage with, who would they be?

Markus: ….hmmm, too many to choose from really, the 3 bands I just mentioned are definitely on the list!!!


Is here anything you’d still like to share with us?

Markus: Thanks for questions and hopefully we’ll see you in the fall time! You can check out myspace page for updates, its!

Cheers!!! And thrash on!!!

Mastery are:
Jeff Dormer - Lead / Rhythm Guitar
Anthony Ristovski - Bass
Kevan Roy - Drums
Markus Armellini - Rhythm Guitar



Lethal Legacy (2007)