A disk can be locked in two modes: High security mode or Maximum security mode. Bit 8 in word 128 of the IDENTIFY response tell you which mode your disk is in: 0 = High, 1 = Maximum.
In High security mode, you can unlock the disk with either the user or master password, using the "SECURITY UNLOCK DEVICE" ATA command. There is an attempt limit, normally set to 5, after which you must power cycle or hard-reset the disk before you can attempt again.
In Maximum security mode, you cannot unlock the disk! The only way to get the disk back to a usable state is to issue the SECURITY ERASE PREPARE command, immediately followed by SECURITY ERASE UNIT. The SECURITY ERASE UNIT command requires the Master password and will completely erase all data on the disk. The operation is rather slow, expect half an hour or more for big disks. (Word 89 in the IDENTIFY response indicates how long the operation will take). (Source