Coming a couple of months after the teasing ‘Iron Times’ EP, Vader have released their thirteenth LP, ‘The Empire’. Now if, like me, you’re a long-time fan of the Polish veterans then you’ll have a fair idea of what to expect here. Gnarly thrash metal with aggressive vocals and a death metal flavour. Often criticised for not really deviating from their trademark sound and not known for experimentation Vader have always delivered and this criticism, in my view, is unfair. Look at Motorhead, look at ACDC. Not known for their experimentation and progressive leanings are they and if you don’t like either of those legendary bands then pop down Smiths and buy yourself a copy of Smash Hits because you’re on the wrong site. I want Vader to sound like Vader (just like I want Metallica to sound like Metallica) and I’m not disappointed.
Kicking off with the fierce ‘hairdryer to the face’ treatment of two sub three minute cuts in ‘Angels Of Steel’ and the appropriately titled ‘Tempest’. These are both furious thrashers that will go over a treat live. The drumming from the UK’s own James Stewart is precise and thunderous, propelling the mid 80’s thrash tunes forward. There’s also some different vocal inflections from Piotr too which adds to the atmosphere of these tunes. ‘Prayer To The God Of War’ is my personal favourite song and, like ‘Parabellum’ was also featured on the ‘Iron Times’ EP. ‘Iron Reign’ is a mid paced, longer tune with a real Accept feel to it. A very subtle change and it’s things like this that prove Vader are not just sitting back and churning out the same record again. Good stuff.
From the Joe Petagno artwork to the super tight and polished musicianship here, (Spider’s solos are great) Vader, with a few subtle tweaks have kept relevant and somewhat essential. More memorable and with better songs than previous LP ‘Tibi Et Igni’ this is my favourite Vader album since ‘Black To The Blind.’
In the metal genre where the press get all squirty over bands like Mastodon & Opeth with their proggy, experimental leanings it’s nice to know you can always lean on and rely on bands like Vader to give your ears & neck muscles a good old fashioned battering when required. 100% Waft free!
(8/10 Mark Eve)