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Vader - The Empire Award winner

The Empire
by Erika Kuenstler at 29 October 2016, 4:25 PM

Following the release of a teaser EP “Iron Times” back in August, Polish leviathans of the Death Metal scene VADER set many mouths watering for their upcoming thirteenth full-length album “The Empire”, due to be unleashed at the beginning of next month. The name of the album alone already screams of quintessential VADER, and this opus doesn’t disappoint: this album is the epitome of VADER’s unique sound. Picking up where predecessor “Tibi et Igni” left off, “The Empire” is nothing short of pure distilled VADER: fast and ferocious. Even the album artwork makes the much contended Iron Throne from Game of Thrones seem like cute child's play.

Without any frilly intro, VADER goes straight for the jugular, starting the album off with “Angels of Steel”, setting the furious pace for the rest of the album: a relentless aural onslaught that shatters all in its path, filled with hair-pin tempo changes and breath-taking technicality. A sudden ending launches us just as abruptly into the next song, with this brusqueness seeming to be the golden standard throughout “The Empire”, giving each song a rapid, punching force. Thrash fans will be delighted by the heavy reliance on Thrashier elements, particularly in songs like “Tempest” and “Prayer to the God of War”, which alongside the penultimate song “Parabellum” will already be familiar to those who checked out the “Iron Times” EP. In “Iron Reign”, the furious charge lets up slightly, showing that VADER is no less devastating at slower paces. “No Gravity” sees the tempo being picked up again, with some outstanding drumming giving this song the annihilative force of a hail of bullets, while dark riffs give the song an evil undertow. This perfectly sets the tone for “Genocidius”, marking the apex of the album. This is perhaps my favourite song on the album, with a dynamic interplay between the vocals and various instruments really making the song larger than life. It’s on this song that we truly get to see how skillfully each musician has mastered his instrument, from gravely rasped vocals to chunky bass-line, and from orotund drumming to searing guitar sections. What makes this song even better is the nerdy humour behind it: borrowing similar-sounding notes from “The Imperial March” from Star Wars, and combining this with lyrics like “Join the empire and join the dark side”, this song really hits home for Metalhead Star Wars geeks like me, and had me in tears of laughter at its sheer brilliance and simplicity. This playful feel is carried over into the pun of the next song “The Army-Geddon”. This song sees VADER try something different: the very dominant bass line gives the song a heavier sound, whilst the spit-fire delivery of the drums and guitar riffs sees VADER’s sound move away from their typical Old School sound and towards a devastating blitzkrieg-like assault. This song is likely to be absolutely killer live, and will undoubtedly be the cause of many a bangover. “Feel my Pain” carries on in a similar vein, again with noteworthy interplay between the drums and guitar work. Closer “Send Me Back to Hell” is perhaps the most aptly titled song of the album, mirroring my sentiments exactly as I push the repeat button for yet another spin of this epic album.

“The Empire” is a bombastically (and perhaps even criminally) sort album, with a total play time of just over 30 minutes spread out over 10 songs. Whilst the production quality is clear, giving each note an almost forensic ability to slice home, the mixing can seems slightly skewed towards the vocals in certain parts. Whilst Peter’s unique vocal style is indisputably one of the hallmarks of VADER, this can occasionally draw attention away from the brilliant guitar and drum work. However, this is a very small gripe, with each instrument being given multiple chances to really shine. Overall, “The Empire” is yet another solid release in VADER’s extensive discography. For those fans living in Europe, be sure to catch VADER on their current tour: this is one band that never fail to deliver.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 8Production: 8Memorability: 7 

4 Star Rating

1. Angels of Steel
2. Tempest
3. Prayer to the God of War
4. Iron Reign
5. No Gravity
6. Genocidius
7. The Army-Geddon
8. Feel My Pain
9. Parabellum
10. Send Me Back to Hell
Peter - vocals
Spider - guitar
Hal - bass
James - drums
Record Label: Nuclear Blast


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Edited 05 February 2023

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