Death Metal stalwarts VADER return with The Empire, out November 4 on Nuclear Blast Records, just two and a half years after the release of Tibi Et Igni, and just in time to crash everybody’s year-end albums list parties, eh? 33 years is a long time to be doing anything, let alone producing some of Poland’s finest extreme metal, but this band still has what it takes to fuck your world up six ways to Sunday and leave you begging for more. Piotr “Peter” Wiwczarek (vocals/guitar), Marek “Spider” Pająk (guitar), Tomasz “Hal” Halicki (bass), and James Stewart (drums) play with a fury and intensity bands half their age couldn’t match from the first tune to the last, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.
The biggest and baddest track right away was “Prayer to the God of War”, one of my three favorites from the very first spin. It’s actually my current ringtone as I type this. It moves fast, with subtle hints of thrash in the riffing, which only adds to the flavor. Here, Wiwczarek sounds more pissed off than usual, and Stewart’s double kick only enhances that feeling. “Genocidius” has blast beats aplenty, and believe it or not, one of the most hummable guitar parts on the goddamn disc. Just listen, and you’ll see. This was album standout number two. Opener “Angels of Steel” wastes no time dicking around, and the band collectively seeks to rip off your head and toss it into the next yard, where dogs can fight over it.
This leads right into “Tempest”, another face-puncher that hits with the viciousness of a young Mike Tyson. “Iron Reign” has more of a deliberate groove, and a dirty riff that permeates the whole thing. This is another stellar track because it manages to be skull-crushing without having to be as speedy as some of the others. The guitar runs during “No Gravity” make this song a must for any metalhead’s gym playlist, guaranteed to get them the “GAAAAAINZ!!” they need. “The Army-Geddon” is really the only weak track on the record because it basically goes nowhere and wasn’t all that memorable.
But “Feel My Pain” and “Parabellum” showcase the fire and venom this band is known for in a seemingly endless supply. Both tracks are as brutal as they are technically proficient, and the band just runs all up, in, and through you. Closing the disc is my third and final favorite “Send Me Back to Hell”. This is another one that brings about a change in tempo while also bringing the ruckus. I love this song; it’s one of those “play it several times in a row” numbers that you get totally sucked into. Plus the solo is sheer perfection in its simplicity and effectiveness.
All told, The Empire is an excellent record, and a shining example of why Polish Death Metal is superior to all other countries’ death metal. The guys in VADER have done it once again. They put a Size 12 boot up your ass, knock the shit out of you, stand you up, then beat you down once again, all in the span of 33 minutes. And that’s what we want from bands like this, right? This is music you can fight or fuck to, then get drunk together afterwards while you hit REPEAT over and over. Get your copy November 4, and break something or someone.
STANDOUT TRACKS: Send Me Back to Hell”, “Prayer to the God of War”, “Genocidius”, “Iron Reign”, “Angels of Steel”