The Empire by VaderRelease date: November 4, 2016
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
For anyone in to death metal, Vader are a band that should need no introduction. Formed in Poland in 1983 (33 years ago!) their 1990 demo Morbid Reich is one of the best selling in death metal history and made Vader one of the first metal bands to break out from behind the “iron curtain” and since then, they have never seemed to stop. It’s only been a few months since the release of their Iron Times EP and they are back with their 13th studio album simply titled The Empire.
With no orchestrated and grand intro that is normally expected on a Vader release, album opener ‘Angels of Steel’ hits you with breakneck speed and has everything you want from a classic Vader song. It’s clear Vader are going to show you why they’re regarded as one of the most consistent death metal bands of all time and aren’t going to disappoint with their new album.
There are few bands that can be compared to Vader when you consider how long they have been going and have never changed to follow a trend, but one thing that has always stood out with Vader is Piotr’s vocals. For anyone who doesn’t know, Piotr is pretty much the mastermind and the only constant member of the band since 83. Unlike 99% of death metal vocalists, Piotr does not use the standard death growl and his vocal attack is very much rooted in his thrash influences with clear decipherable vocals. Think a lower pitched Slayer with early Sepultura and you’re almost there with the odd high pitched scream tossed in for good measure.
Whilst overall sticking to the thrashier end of Vader’s spectrum, The Empire is classic Vader. There are plenty tremolo picked catchy riffs that only Vader can do so well, mid song tempo changes and all the atonal Slayer worship in the lead lines we have come to expect. Overall, there’s enough variety in each song to keep you interested and would not sound out of place on any of Vader’s previous releases.
There is not one song on this album I would call filler, however one song that will stand out for a lot of people I’m sure is the track ‘Genocidius’. The song is very reminiscent of Darth Vader’s ‘Imperial March’ and even uses the tongue in cheek lyrics “join the empire and join the dark side”. This song will definitely get stuck in your head.
They’re not breaking any new ground with this record but why should they? They’ve been doing this for over 30 years and still amazes me that they can keep it sounding fresh and exciting after all this time. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
Overall this is a great album and is business as usual for Vader. They’re unlikely to win over any new fans with this album, but will keep existing ones coming back for more.