My second favourite Vader, after Darth Vader of course, recently delivered their 11th studio album to eager masses. After pushing the released date from September to November The Empire had a lot to live up to.
Now you guys may have noticed I hold good riffs above the fiddly diddly over the top solos. However if you can pull off both then go for it and Vader certainly went for it. The Empire is a cascade of classic death, thrash and even some black metal riffage. Opening track Angel Of Steel smashes out a heavily palm muted intro with a lick laden riff, where as Iron Reign swings between thrash/crossover gallops. It is a fantastic boiling pot of metals finest. Mixing these riffs with James Stewart’s neck wrenching drumming and you have a metalheads dream scenario. From the blast beats and marching bounce of The Army-Geddon you’ll be wind milling till your neck snaps.
The solos are more like well crafted bridges than a chance for Piotr Wiwczarek to have an extra few seconds in the limelight. The solo in Tempest actually adds something to the song rather than just being thrown in to tick off a common trope in metal. It bridges the hefty riff with the speedy tremolo picking rhythms that end the song. Also it helps that not all of the songs have solos allowing them to have more impact when they do appear. It may get a bit too mundane at points with No Gravity sounding a bit uninspired but it is worth the three minute wait when that final meaty riff kicks you in the arse.
The vocals are spectacular. Wiwczarek has to be one of the most clear cut vocalist out there. Never over indulging the gutturals or over the top screams, this is one death metal vocalist you can actually understand. Now I don’t have a problem with the more brutal styling of vocals but it is nice to see a veteran of the genre unleashing some gruff, thrash inspired tones. In the modern era of death metal it is rare to see songs like Genocidius that pump out a heavy feel without the vocalist gargling out inaudible gutturals. It is refreshing to see and fits in well with the up and down tempos of the later entries on the album. Send Me Back To Hell ends the album in a evil sounding fashion. It’s comparatively slow beat is the perfect side to the power of the vocals and squealing guitar bridges.
As my interest in death metal rises, its bands like Vader that keep the genre rooted as a key player within modern metal. The Empire is a real horn raiser and earns a 7/10.It’s a barrage of riffs, blasting drums and heavy vocals lines is a touch of old school heaviness. No pig squeals and brutality here, this album is heavy on its own volition.