Blood on the Dance Floor Retrospective: Master of Death

This is part of a Retrospective that covers the bands entire discography. You can find the post for the previous album here. There’s also an introduction and disclaimer that you can read here, that I strongly suggest you start out with.

I spent the last post in this Retrospective bitching quite a bit, and with Cruel Pornography being the next item for me to tackle in Blood on the Dance Floor’s discography, I expected I’d have to write two negative posts in a row. But thankfully this exists, and serves as a nice break of good and interesting material that was released in between two of the bands worst releases. Even though it isn’t really a Blood on the Dance Floor album.

Master of Death is the first of three solo projects by Dahvie Vanity, although given that he didn’t actually produce the album himself and that more than half of the songs feature guest vocals from other vocalists, can it really be considered a solo project? It’s labelled as one, and it’s marketed as one but… It isn’t. It’s more like a one-off side project that he was heavily involved in. But that’s all besides the point. Let’s talk about the project itself…

Master of Death only ever had one release, the self-titled concept album Master of Death which apparently tells a story about Dahvie Vanity in a fantasy world, fighting a demon called Ultima or something? I’m honestly not 100% sure what the concept is about. The album was apparently bundled with a comic book that detailed the full story, but I tried looking for scans of it online and couldn’t find anything. Either I didn’t look hard enough, or they simply don’t exist anywhere on the internet, and the comic goes for like $45 online. I ain’t paying that for a fucking comic book. Fuck that shit. If anyone reading this can find this, please let me know. I want to read it. Because apparently going through all of Dahvie Vanity’s music isn’t enough and I also now have the desire to read his fucking comic book too. Anyway, this is really going on a stupid tangent. Back to discussing the actual album.

I vaguely hinted at this towards the end of my Bitchcraft analysis, but Master of Death is more or less, in my opinion, what that album should have been. It has a pretty similar, heavy Dubstep/Brostep sound to it, and it’s all caked in this spooky and demonic aesthetic. But unlike Bitchcraft, the combination works this time thanks to the production being a lot more varied and female vocalist Kerry Louise, who previously featured on the song Freaks Do It Better!, being present on almost all of the albums tracks. Her voice is fantastic and really sells the aesthetic of the album in a way that Dahvie and Jayy just weren’t capable of doing on Bitchcraft. If there’s one phrase I could use to describe Master of Death’s sound it would be a combination of Brostep and Musical Theatre. As insane as that sounds. The whole album feels like its the soundtrack to a musical or an epic stage play. Except this musical was written by Dahvie Vanity, so it’s delivered in the most fucking Blood on the Dance Floor way imaginable.

The album opens up with Good As Dead which is a really fantastic opening track that’s not unlike something you’d hear at the start of a stage play. Starting off with extremely distorted vocals from Dahvie and some heavy electronic sounds, the song quickly switches to something more melodic and enchanting. With soft pianos and soaring, soothing, vocals by Kerry Louise, the intro is very calming and dare I say beautiful. It feels like the introduction to a story, and it’s pretty fantastic. And at around the halfway point, the track just kicks things up with an incredibly energetic, Electronic drop and the Brostep production of the album starts to show itself, while keeping the soothing vocals, with the song still managing to keep its melodic tone. It’s a track that’s both energetic and soothing to listen to, and I love it. The lyrics really speak to me on a personal level, with the line “Give me a star, put it in the sky, if it’s too far, I’ll learn how to fly” really hitting me close to home. It’s a song that just really gives me chills, and it’s one of the best pieces of music that Dahvie Vanity has ever been involved in. It’s a masterpiece.

Afterwards, the album continues the Brostep goodness with Beyond The Wasteland which is again another solid and energetic track with excellent vocals from Kerry Louise in the chorus and Dahvie’s signature, Crunkcore rapping in the verses. It isn’t the most memorable or best song on the album, but it’s fun and it has a lot of energy. Not much else to say about it.

Then we’re back into more melodic territory with Exorcise My Demons which is a much slower paced song with again, really beautiful, soaring vocals from Kerry, with a bit of auto-tune. It’s a very calming and soothing song, that’s a bit different from everything else on the album. The verses are also pretty great, with some really solid rapping sections. The second verse in particular is notable for featuring Blood on the Dance Floor member, Jayy Von Monroe, and he does a pretty excellent job, again showcasing his superior rapping abilities over Dahvie’s. Exorcise My Demons is another song that I find myself relating to a lot, with the lyrics focusing heavily on overcoming your inner demons and rising above the struggles that come with them. It’s fucking awesome.

Sadly, the fourth track The Labrynth is one of the weaker songs on the album. It isn’t completely terrible and the chorus in particular has a fucking incredible drop and epic, wobbly Brostep production that’s over the top in the best possible way but… The verses are incredibly weak, with some really terrible rapping from both Dahvie and Jayy that even I can’t find myself enjoying all that much. The lyrics are also just really fucking bad here, with some shit about popsicles or something. It doesn’t feel like it fits in with the rest of the album, and given that this is one of the few tracks that doesn’t feature Kerry Louise, it feels even more out of place as a result. I like the production, but everything else here is garbage.

Thankfully, All Hallow’s Eve saves the day by being an absolutely outstanding track with some incredible production, some excellent lyrics and solid vocal performances from Dahvie. The entire song has a really unique Halloween aesthetic to it and feels incredibly spooky and energetic at the same time. It really sells this scene of an army of monsters and demons rising from the pits of hell and going on a rampage of chaos throughout the world. It’s a song that feels like it’s communicating the end of the world, and it fucking rocks. The chorus specifically is really fucking cool, with Dahvie speaking in an extremely distorted, demonic voice, with lines like “Goblins and ghouls come out at night
Bolt down your windows and lock them tight!” It sounds like the theme of the villain of the narrative of the album, and I really love it. It’s great.

Then we get to what’s probably the best track on the entire release, Ultima which is a mostly instrumental track with some of the best production Dahvie Vanity has ever been involved in. Much like All Hallow’s Eve, this track features more of those demonic vocals from Dahvie that are clearly supposed to represent the villain of the story and they really just sell this whole “end of the world” aesthetic that this section of the album is going for. The line “WHAT. IS. DEAD. CANNOT. DIE!” gives me chills every time I hear it. As said before, the production is also incredible, with lots of energy, some really cool Brostep drops and an almost chiptune inspired aesthetic that’s just really, really cool. It’s an absolutely phenomenal piece of music and feels almost like something out of a video game, which is likely what Dahvie was going for with the title Ultima, a clear reference to Final Fantasy which he’s a huge fan of. I listen to this track all the time. It’s one of my favourite songs ever.

Afterwards, we move onto The Suffering which brings Kerry Louise back after being absent for a few tracks. Unfortunately it’s probably the weakest track on the entire album with a really forgettable sound that just feels really generic and uninspired. Not even Kerry can save this one and her usually beautiful vocals are a little grating here honestly. There’s a really nice piano section towards the end, but that’s about the only saving grace of the track sadly.

Thankfully this mediocrity isn’t meant to last though, as things are brought right back up with Death of Vanity which is, alongside Ultima, probably the best track on the entire release. Like Ultima it has a very chiptune inspired sound to it, with some pretty catchy and solid rapping from Dahvie thrown into the mix, and Kerry Louise singing during the pre-chorus sections. The song feels like it’s depicting a battle between the hero and villain of the story, with the hero (Dahvie) eventually losing and being killed (hence Death of Vanity). The second half of the song is especially brilliant, taking an unexpected emotional turn where Kerry utters the phrase “This is the end…” and a sad, but still energetic, chiptune beat plays. The final stretch of the track then calls back to Ultima, with the demonic voice from the chorus of that song making a comeback, with the exact same instrumental and similar lyrics. It makes both of the songs feel narratively connected to one another, and it’s a detail that I really appreciate in the larger context of the album. “Welcome to madness, prepare for sadness” is just such an epic fucking line. I love it. Death of Vanity is fantastic.

Skull Kid Rises from the Ashes is another fantastic track and a great follow up to the tragic, almost sad, song that was Death of Vanity. It’s a hopeful, more upbeat track with much more soothing and upbeat vocals from Kerry and feels like a really melodic, upbeat theatre piece with a Brostep twist. It’s great.

There’s not much to say about The Occult. It’s fine I guess. It’s not particularly memorable nor is it anything I find myself listening to. Truth be told I’ve only listened to it a handful of times I always forget it exists. I forgot it existed until I started writing this post today, so… Yeah. Nothing else to say really.

The Reckoning! is fantastic, and feels like what a good track from Bitchcraft would have sounded like if the band had managed to nail what they were going for back when they released that album. With excellent, energetic vocals from Dahvie and Jayy, and Kerry’s powerful, female vocals taking over the song during the extremely hopeful and uplifting chorus, this song is just brilliant.

And finally, we have Immortalized which is an excellent closer to the album, and encapsulates everything that works well in Master of Death into one final track. With an extremely spooky, Halloween themed introduction, some great production overall and a chorus featuring Kerry on vocals yet again, to the same melody as Ultima, I could think of no better way for this album to close. It’s really, really great.

And that’s about all I have to say with this one. Master of Death is an excellent side project from Dahvie Vanity, and it’s one of the best records he’s ever been involved with in my opinion. It’s what Bitchcraft should have been, and in my eyes is more of a Blood on the Dance Floor album than that forgettable garbage ever was. It isn’t perfect, and there are a few mediocre tracks in between all the great ones, but the ones that are great are some of Dahvie’s best work. And the fact that it’s a concept album with a unique sound that feels like it’s taken straight out of a stage musical just makes it even more interesting. It’s an incredibly ambitious album and a hidden gem, and that’s saying a lot given that this is the same guy who gave us Sexting and Candyland. Say what you will about Dahvie, but you can’t deny that there’s some real ambition behind Master of Death. It’s really fucking impressive. And it’s one of my favourites.

And now, here’s some track ratings for you all:

Track Ratings:

  1. Good As Dead (Featuring Kerry Louise) – 10/10
  2. Beyond the Wasteland (Featuring Kerry Louise) – 7/10
  3. Exorcise My Demons (Featuring Jayy Von Monroe & Kerry Louise) – 9/10
  4. The Labrynth (Featuring Jayy Von Monroe) – 4/10
  5. All Hallow’s Eve – 9/10
  6. Ultima – 10/10
  7. The Suffering (Featuring Kerry Louise) – 3/10
  8. Death of Vanity (Featuring Kerry Louise) – 10/10
  9. Skull Kid Rises from the Ashes (Featuring Kerry Louise & Shawn Brandon) – 9/10
  10. The Occult – 4/10
  11. The Reckoning! (Featuring Jayy Von Monroe & Kerry Louise) – 9/10
  12. Immortalized (Featuring Kerry Louise) 9/10

Best Song(s):

Good As Dead, Ultima, Death of Vanity

Worst Song(s):

The Labrynth, The Suffering, The Occult

Would I Recommend It?

Yes. Not only is a lot more accessible than the rest of Blood on the Dance Floor’s discography, due to its much cleaner sound and making good use of Kerry Louise’s powerful vocals, but it’s also just a really ambitious record with an interesting aesthetic and a unique narrative that ties into a fucking comic book. It’s a shame that this wound up being the only release by Master of Death and however unlikely it may be, it’d be really cool of Dahvie decided to resurrect the project one day.

This is what Bitchcraft should have been. Give it a listen. You won’t regret it. Probably.

What’s Next?

Next up, we’re going back to Blood on the Dance Floor themselves, and will be taking a look at another EP of theirs, Cruel Pornography, which is probably the worst collection of music the band has ever released. I’m going to struggle to say much of anything about this one, let’s put it that way…

Until next time!

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3 thoughts on “Blood on the Dance Floor Retrospective: Master of Death

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