|Review: Vader - The Empire|
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Year released: 2016
Review online: November 11, 2016
Reviewed by: Bruno Medeiros
Rated 4.06/5 (81.25%) (16 Votes)
The Empire is the 13th full-length album by the demons of Poland and it's mainly a Thrash endeavor full of brutal passages. Standing at the attractive mark of just 33:02 minutes long, the band doesn't waste time and goes straight for the jugular with crunchy and visceral riffs, raw and gloriously powerful drumming and, as usual, the unmistakable growls of Peter. "Angels of Steel" and "Tempest" blend together to form a gut-wrenching mayhem with a lot of changes of pace and technical elements such as scaling solos. The first one delivers just a taste of the destruction to come and feels like an introduction to the gates of hell; marvelous. The second and most interesting one continues to keep you on your feet and features a mid-tempo thrashy bit mixed with a lot of death elements – very characteristic of Vader. "Prayer to the God of War" was already featured in the Iron Times EP released in August. This has Thrash written all over it, and with a unique twist of brutality and anger, is easily one of the best songs here. It has an awesome chorus and, again, is a direct hit to the face with no frills. "Iron Reign" slows the pace and it's a good resting time for the ears; while it's not as fast as other pieces of the album, it serves its purpose of turning speed into power well. Think of this as a tune that mixes a Sodom-like raw construction with a Testament-esque melodic and groovy atmosphere.
Don't worry, though, because resting time is over with "No Gravity". Special attention to James Stewart on drums on this one; the guy was a spot-on addition to the band, and transitions with ease from a double-pedal, wrist-breaking Death Detal kick to a more cadenced and controlled approach. Again, Peter's voice matches perfectly with the savage, bloodthirsty climate of the hymn. "Genocidius" continues with the perversion in a depraved and sinful manner, in a track replete with speed and wrath. Curiously, follow-up "The Army-Geddon" abandons the old-school approach and relies heavily on a more modern sound, be it in the broken riffs or the arrangements of the bass and drums. This rough change in an otherwise homogeneous album feels sort of weird, but this is a good score, nevertheless.
The final part of the record features three quality tunes in "Feel My Pain", "Parabellum" (which was also released in the Iron Times EP) and "Send Me Back to Hell". The first abuses of the toned-down guitar work and it has a very interesting arrangement in the drumming department with a lot of cymbal and plate usage, while closer "Send Me Back to Hell" has a very evil vibe all over it, making it the perfect ending to an equally evil endeavor.
Vader can do no wrong. The Empire is yet another fine display of the band's power and ferocity, and while it is more Thrash than Death, has a good chunk of both genres in the mix. Spot-on performances by Peter, James, Spider (guitar) and Hal (bass) and a little bit of playing-it-safe allied with some bits of experimentation make the album a very good contender for a top-10 spot in Thrash Metal lists of the year. Of course, this is not a masterpiece or a mind-blowing, ethereal release, but its fierceness and bestiality all contribute to a fun, competent and respectful album. Highly recommended.
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Interview with drummer James Stewart on May 9, 2020 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
Interview with Piotr "Peter" Wiwczarek on June 15, 2018 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
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