Master Boot Record – Personal Computer
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 13.05.22
Running Time: 63:01
Review by Dark Juan
Good afternoon, dear friends. It is with considerable sadness that I start this review having heard of the untimely and tragic death of Trevor Strnad, a gentleman of the first order. I had the pleasure of interviewing him for Ever-Metal.com during one of the many lockdowns over Skype, and found him to be a gregarious, charming and funny man, and understanding and amused at an ersatz metal hack bungling his first big ticket interview as well as him being a walking encyclopedia of metal. This is a sad loss, and Dark Juan’s thoughts go out to the rest of The Black Dahlia Murder and of course Trevor’s family and friends in their time of loss and grief.
May Trevor Strnad rest forever in peace and power.
This leads on to another point before I actually start telling you about the genius that is Master Boot Record – Yet another man has been lost to suicide. Dark Juan is also going through a difficult time and suffers from dark thoughts frequently, thankfully I’ve been able to turn to certain people in my life (and for this I thank them all profusely and without restraint – they know who they are) to help drain the black away.
IT’S OK TO TALK.
I IMPLORE you, struggling gentlemen who read my barely literate shite, to go and seek help from Andy’s Man Club or Samaritans or whoever the fuck you need to, to obtain help and counselling before it gets too much to cope with. It is NOT weak to share your burden. You are NOT less of a man if you realise you can’t cope and reach out for support. I don’t want to have to know that any of my acquaintances and friends have joined Trevor Strnad and Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell and Kurt Cobain. I would much rather have you all fucking get help. I need it sometimes and I am one of the most resilient motherfuckers you will ever come across. Today, however, a long dirtnap would be amazing but you (and I) have to keep fighting because that long dirtnap, you aren’t coming back from that. Suicide is a permanent (and horribly painful for your family, significant others and friends) method of dealing with a temporary situation. TALK, MEN, TALK…
Enough seriousness. Let us instead discuss a musical project that has brought me considerable joy ever since my friend Metal Carl (yes, that is his nickname and it is a running joke around the area of West Yorkshire where I live that Metal Carl is more metal than ACTUAL physical metal) sent me a link to the song “IRQ 0 SYSTEM CLOCK” and told me that I might like it.
How right he was. He has given me a whole new obsession with this Italian electronic auteur (being as Master Boot Record is a project from a 486DX-33MHz-64MB computer, processing avant-garde chiptune, synthesized heavy metal & classical symphonic music. It is also shockingly productive, this being the 8th MBR album proper as well as its work with Keygen Church) and its colossal, expansive instrumental soundscapes. Master Boot Record derives some of its pleasure for me from the fact that it is the work of an Italian man called Victor Love who has spent years making out he is an IBM 486 processor. I love daft shit.
Now, the blurb states that I shouldn’t call Master Boot Record’s music synthwave, and that it should be in fact described as electronic metal. I actually have some sympathy with that description, but fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me. Unless you’re a devastatingly attractive woman ordering me into her boudoir while waving a packet of dex at me. Then it’s a case of fuck you, I’m doing what I’m told… but I digress – Master Boot Record plays a style of music that encompasses Outrun synthwave as part of its alternative silicon based DNA before being fused cybernetically with the heaviest and chunkiest of metal. The resulting musical behemoth is A) terrifying to behold and B) fucking brilliant.
If you have ever read William Gibson’s Sprawl books, or Burning Chrome, or Mona Lisa Overdrive, I humbly submit that Master Boot Record is the soundtrack to his fevered tales of the Net and its denizens. The music sends my imagination into turbocharged high gear – I picture Chiba-boosted assassins with scalpels underneath their fingernails battling vat-grown zaibatsu samurai armed with monofilament wire that can cut two-inch-thick steel in the rainy, slippery, gomi-filled back alleys of a neon-lit geodesic nightmare, fighting over the capture of a strung-out mnemonic courier chain-smoking Yeheyuan filters who has just offloaded the data packet he was carrying in his wetwired brain to a drug addicted, cybernetically enhanced and armoured dolphin who’s fighting his own infowar with his Lo-Tek allies against the zaibatsus. I close my eyes and see people with grey lenses surgically implanted into their faces to cover up the Hong-Kong made cybernetic eyes they see through, and rain slick black leather and PVC hiding boosted musculatures and micro-pistons replacing tendons in the hand of a colossal Russian bouncer, whose jacket falls open just enough for you to see the well-used shok-stik and tape-wrapped grip of a rusty, knock-off Vietnamese made Tokarev pistol in a shoulder holster outside the bar from which heat, dry ice and the sound of Master Boot Record emanates…
Master Boot Record is not necessarily just about future shock though. There are some absolutely delightful neo-classical moments on “Personal Computer”, especially the intro to “80486”, where Love gleefully creates beautiful pieces of music and then records them using sounds that would have just been considered acceptable on a ZX Spectrum – essentially taking classical influences and turning them into 8-bit chiptune renditions of themselves. However, it’s not as banal as it sounds, trust me. Equally, you can’t discount the sheer heaviness of Master Boot Record, even though purists and gatekeepers will be spilling bitter tears of trad-metal loving horror all over their authentic 1980s W.A.S.P. t shirts. MBR’s music takes the sheer scale and grandiosity of trve (sic) heavy metal, and adds it to the uncompromising, unstoppable qualities of machinery and the endless possibilities for sonic fury that electronics offer the seriously unhinged, and the result is something that is so supermassively greater than the sum of its’ component parts it can form its own event horizon. The music has a cinematic quality reminiscent of 80s action flicks where hundreds of nondescript bad guys are blown away by a musclebound leading man for the cause of freedom/ America/ rescuing daughters and sons/ wives/ favourite second cousins/ pets (I’m looking at you, John Wick. I wholly approve), yet said musclebound leading man seems to be able to survive being blown up/ nearly drowned/ STILL USE HIS FUCKING ARM AFTER BEING SHOT THROUGH THE SHOULDER (this ALWAYS pisses me off) and otherwise shrug off anything that might floor a less perfect specimen whilst cracking the sort of one-liners that only dads should have permission to use (my favourite ever being, “Are you a Virginia farm boy? Here’s a couple of achers” mere milliseconds before booting some poor evil lackey right in the gentleman vegetables). In short, although there is a strong techno-historical (by that I mean that MBR’s music could easily be the theme tune to any number of SF or 80s fantasy TV shows – Stuff like Airwolf, Street Hawk, Knight Rider, Automan, that kind of thing) quality to Master Boot Record’s music, it is also tremendously futuristic and forward-looking, hinting at a future where electronics supercede traditional instruments and change the face of the planet, “80486SX” being a perfect example of how this could happen, being as it is heavier than a regiment of plutonium panty-clad Soviet hammer throwers named Olga, yet brightly-lit and forward looking and inventive and almost…. Utopian in outlook and scope, as it charts endless sunny vistas of progress and promise in front of it. “80686” ends the record with a bastardised electronic harpsichord playing the kind of chamber baroque that makes goths weep with what equates to joy for goths (probably crushing sadness and clove cigarettes and absinthe whilst having a candlelit Xmal Deutschland marathon, or if you’re a boy, all of the above whilst wistfully lusting after Sisters-era Patricia Morrison) before crashing into the heaviness like an endless parade of heavily armed and augmented cyborg automatons marching in lockstep right past your foxhole, and then taking a hard left turn into the kind of soloing that would not look out of place on a Rhapsody Of Fire record (but done on keyboards) and returning to the vastness of intergalactic starscapes and glissandos and epic coruscations of music swirling through a continuum all of its own creation… Fuck me, I love Master Boot Record so much it hurts!
So, there are nearly thirteen hundred words on just why men should talk more and why Master Boot Record are absolutely fucking magnificent. You don’t need to read any more. Go listen, instead. And fucking talk to someone, chaps. Dark Juan is sick of losing good people to the black dog and requests and requires that you are not next, please and thank you.
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Il sistema brevettato di valutazione degli schizzi di sangue di Dark Juan) was going to award Master Boot Record a full 10/10, but has decided that it is going to make an absolute mockery of the Ever-Metal.com scoring system and actually score “Personal Computer” 647,332,196,003/10. Just for the lulz.
10. 80686 (No. These song titles are not me joking. They do actually correlate to the IBM 86-series PCs I learned to do stuff on in college in order of release and processor speed…)
Victor Love. He does absolutely fucking everything and I hate him for it. I can’t even play the guitar properly.
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.