The Rickety Old Shack

Master Boot Record — Internet Protocol

album cover

Storming onto the scene in late 2016, Master Boot Record presents a truly unique combination of sounds — even by the standards of a genre as deep and wide-ranging as modern metal. Wielding the sounds of 8-bit synths and computer technology from the late 80s / early 90s, this enigmatic project has been churning out a steady flow of instrumental material that is as esoteric as it is infectious. Internet Protocol marks the project's seventh full-length offering, and shows there's still a considerable amount of inspiration driving Master Boot Record forward.

I'm accustomed to explaining — or at least trying in earnest to explain — really bizarre music to people, but I never thought I'd be describing a music project in terms like "so, take a 486DX66 and imagine someone turned it into metal band." And yet, here we are; Master Boot Record illustrates the immense room for variety and innovation in music, even when constrained to the sound palette of 30-year-old computer technology. So many of the tones and sound utilised on this project's albums instantly transports me back to my youth, hanging out with my best friend, playing PC games his older brother pirated off of bulletin board services — a precursor to the modern Internet.

Each release, since the project's debut record, C:\>FIXMBR, has featured slight improvements to the compositional quality of the material while still retaining the same familiar sound and feel. Elements of a variety of metal subgenres are well represented on these albums, creating the truly unique fusion of a "modern throwback" sound. I'm also really impressed with how the synth guitars and drums are executed. The double-kick patterns are perfectly executed without sounding like the worst sort of triggered drum kit, and the percussion is very detailed and nuanced despite the basic drum samples that were used. Likewise, the 'guitars' fill their role perfectly, lending the requisite chugging rhythms and buzzsaw riffs to keep things very metal at all times..

Fleshing out the sound of the project is an array of additional synths, lending very classic tones and sounds to what would otherwise be pretty skeletal metal tracks. The guitars and drums provide a solid rhythm base which is then layered with additional effects and a lead synth which handles the most of the solos. The engineering of this album is another highlight, as the mixing keeps the instrumentation in balance while retaining the authenticity of the retro sounds and samples. The production presents the material well and otherwise stays out of the way, while this music was constructed entirely in software but doesn't sound impossible given the project's low-fi gimmick.

Back in the day, when I first heard the music to the game Doom, I thought it rocked pretty damn hard. Still, I never expected a musician to take that style and sound and use it in a "real" music project. And yet here I am, well over 20 years later, and Master Boot Record has done just that — crafting a synth metal project that borrows from computers of the past to push heavy metal music forward. This is some truly unique, engaging stuff that I expect to appeal to fans of progressive metal and electronic genres like chiptune alike. If nothing else, you can see proof that it is indeed possible to shred on a 486!

Summary

The seventh release from prolific instrumental project Master Boot Record, Internet Protocol dishes out just over a half-hour of furious, catchy, and exceedingly unique metal. Where a lot of projects can often crutch on an aesthetic to make up for substandard music, Master Boot Record manages to convey a mysterious image, wield an array of sounds like no other and still produce music of the highest quality. This is more than just a novelty; this is legitimately good music.

Album Information

Release date: March 20th, 2019
Record label: Independent

Track Listing

  1. FTP
  2. IRC
  3. TELNET
  4. GOPHER
  5. HTTP
  6. POP3
  7. SMTP

Link: masterbootrecord.bandcamp.com

—by Derek

Published: April 8th, 2019.