I've often pondered, "Is it even possible for VADER to do wrong? Are the Polish death/thrash titans even capable of producing a poor product?" And the answer is always "no." Piotr Wiwczarek's (aka "Peter," vocals/guitar) assassins have been laying waste to stages across the globe for many years now, walking it like they talk it and serving as living examples of what it means to be dedicated to one's craft. Lest anyone doubt the band's ability to maintain its consistent level of musical excellence and untamed savagery, grab a copy of 2006's "Impressions in Blood" and kiss your ass goodbye. It is exactly that kind of fury and god-like presence that has been captured on "Live in Japan", a 62-minute performance recorded on August 31, 1998 at Club Quattro in Tokyo, Japan, the band's first appearance in the city.
The degree to which most fans give a shit about live albums often depends on four factors, or some combination thereof: (1) one's level of worship for the band in question; (2) whether the uninitiated believes the disc would serve as a good introduction to the act's body of work; (3) the sound quality; and (4) the magic captured at the show. Well, guess what? Any one of these factors would serve as justification for purchasing "Live in Japan". The sound mix is strong; it is professional (not to mention lethal), yet not a studio recording with pumped-in crowd noise. It would also serve to introduce newcomers to VADER's pre-"Litany" material. As for the "magic," the disc sends shivers down the spine and raises the hairs on the back of the neck, no question about it. As for fan worship, let's face it, most VADER fans are rabidly dedicated and not already in possession of the album would surely want to pick up the MVD Audio stateside release.
The song selection contains many of the favorites, including "Silent Empire", "Black to the Blind", "Carnal", and "Crucified Ones". But the real treats are monstrous covers of "Black Sabbath" and live staple "Raining Blood" (SLAYER). In the latter case, it would not be a VADER show without a cover of one of the fearsome foursome's greatest songs; the Poles have truly made it one of their own. It's also a pleasure to hear Doc's (R.I.P.) fierce drumming. If you've got enough energy left, the disc also includes a video clip for "Kingdom", although I've not been able to get it to play in my computer (hopefully a problem with my computer and not the disc). So does "Live in Japan" come highly recommended? Of course it does.