VADER
"Welcome to the Morbid Reich"

(Nuclear Blast)

01. Ultima Thule
02. Return To The Morbid Reich
03. The Black Eye
04. Come And See My Sacrifice
05. Only Hell Knows
06. I Am Who Feasts Upon Your Soul
07. Don't Rip The Beast's Heart Out
08. I Had A Dream...
09. Lord Of Thorns
10. Decapitated Saints
11. They Are Coming...
12. Black Velvet And Skulls Of Steel

RATING: 8/10

Polish death metal heavyweights VADER opened the Nuclear Blast era with a strong effort in "Necropolis", yet it is its follow up "Welcome to the Morbid Reich" that feels like a more complete, definitive type album. There is just something about the overall feel of this one that is immediately identifiable as the kind of feral, teeth-baring and thrash-informed death metal that VADER patented long ago, albeit with modern touches and updating. Of course, when it comes to VADER, product quality is never an issue of concern.

The beauty of this album, as well as the last couple releases from the long running act is that vocalist/guitarist Piotr "Peter" Wiwczarek and his crew of assassins have retained the rudiments of that patented style without sounding recycled. As is the case with kindred spirits SLAYER, it is what the fans expect. Few bands are able to keep a recognized formula as fresh and relevant as either of these legendary acts. In the case of VADER, it is done by tweaking the precision-kill riffs and tightly wound rhythm chunk (most notably on "Black Velvet and Skulls of Steel"), as well as incorporating varying degrees of symphonic effects, which are comparatively more prominent this time around. You'll hear it on tracks like "Return to the Morbid Reich", "Come and See my Sacrifice", which bears noting for its impacting arrangement, and "I am Who Feasts Upon your Soul", one on which the choral effects work in splendid contrast to the savage delivery. The best part about it is that any of those tracks are distinctly VADER in their murderous ways, with or without the symphonic infusion. Classic assaults like "Don't Rip the Beast's Heart Out" and the speed-addled insanity of "Decapitated Saints" (featuring an unbelievable display of frantic vocal patterning) are further justification of the act's uninterrupted reign as part of the circle of kings, while the soloing of guitarist Marak "Spider" Pajak is nothing short of exceptional. Pakak's playing really stands out on here. The periodic layering of Peter's trademark guttural vocals with sadistic screams is noteworthy as well, no more so than on "I Had a Dream…"

Much like CANNIBAL CORPSE, VADER is a model of death metal consistency. Not even close to sounding like a band that is riding waves of past successes or nostalgia, much less churning out albums of questionable appeal, VADER — and Peter specifically — is in simplest terms a friggin' machine. "Welcome to the Morbid Reich" is all the proof you'll need.

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