Style: Death/Thrash Metal
Release Date: 31 May 2019
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I haven't heard Polish death legends Vader in forever, but I enjoyed them back in the day so was keen to pick up this EP. The best thing about it is that it sounds just like the thrash/death I've kept in my mind ever since the early nineties. The worst thing about is that there's very little of it here, the five tracks adding up to only thirteen minutes.
The longest of them is the closer, a cover of Judas Priest's Steeler, taken from their British Steel album. That it isn't wildly different from the four that precede it highlights how important the Priest were to their history. The vocals are different, of course, and the drums a little too, but the energy and power are happy constants. Vader blitz through this EP and the four minutes of Steeler feel like two.
Of course, that means that the two minutes of Grand Deceiver suggest that the song is over almost before it begins. That makes it rather reminiscent of another blitzkrieg release, Slayer's Reign in Blood, even if the voice of Peter Wiwczarek is easily more death than thrash. The frantic soloing is taken right out of the Slayer playbook and there's a surprising amount of it too for a song this short.
Litany moves even closer to thrash with Peter hurling out odd words rather than lines and the pace never letting up. It kind of makes sense that it's the title track from their 2000 album reworked, but this benefits massively from much better production and, frankly, better performances from the band as a whole. Emptiness begins with a solo and then chugs along to another solo. Clearly I need to check out Dark Age, the prior Vader album from 2017 because I can't remember having heard this many guitar solos on a death metal album in a long while and I like it a lot.
Despair is Grand Deceiver on an even stricter timetable. It only just makes it past the minute mark and yes, there's a solo in the middle. It's fast and unrelenting, like the EP as a whole, and it sets the stage for Steeler to be that too but with more riffs, more breakdowns and more patience. How anyone can be unrelenting and patient at the same time, I have no idea, but after the first four tracks, Vader sound like they're playing in slow motion on this closer, but with just as much energy and passion, especially during the mid-section.
I was tempted to drop a point for the brevity here, because thirteen minutes is really short and the EP is over so quickly that you can listen to it a few times and still think it's short. I didn't, though, because that would be unfair to the music within. It's good stuff, the thrashiest death on my playlist in quite a while and I can't fault the energy levels or the excellent production.
So a seven it is, with the hope that a full length album will be following it soon. Vader tend to keep themselves busy in the studio, Dark Age being their fourteenth album and the largest gap between releases being only three years. That means that we should see another one by next year at the latest and the current estimate is December 2019. I'll be waiting!