(In this post TheMadIsraeli reviews the newest album by the Polish death metal icons Vader, which features striking cover art by Wes Benscoter and is due for release on May 1 by Nuclear Blast.)
Vader is a tough band to review. This, of course, is not because of how intricate or deep their music is, it’s because this band’s level of intensity and quality has been so good that “It’s a Vader album” is literally the review. I love this band’s entire discography — I don’t think they have a single bad, or even just “okay” album or EP in the entire fucking discography.
That also isn’t to say Vader are a one-dimensional band. They have nuance, and the tiny degrees to which they dial around elements of their sound from album to album make a big difference. It’s interesting because at this point it basically means we have three types of Vader among which they kind of seem to bounce back and forth:
1: Straight blast beat fast as fuck death metal
2: Thrash metal with death metal intensity
3: Symphonic blackened death metal
Vader’s last record The Empire was 100% honed in on that thrash metal focus. As a result, I expected the subject of today’s review, Solitude In Madness, to be on the symphonic end, but then I realized we were overdue for straight death metal Vader, and it turns out that’s what this record is. However, there’s definitely a bit more to say about it beyond how good it is, blah blah blah — I mean it’s Vader and therefore of course it’s good.
The thing about this album that sticks out to me is it’s a musical and spiritual sequel to Litany, an album that’s often appreciated for literally only one song (“Wings”) and has often gone very under-appreciated in Vader’s discography. It was a record that was very militaristic in spirit, with an emphasis on short and extremely direct song-writing, and it’s on Solitude In Madness that we find the band revisiting this approach, with astounding success. Vader going in short bursts of extreme concentrated speed and malice has often produced some of their best songs (e.g., “Decapitated Saints”), so getting a new Vader record that revisits this aspect of themselves is pretty fun.
HOWEVER, while the majority of this album is loaded with songs that don’t breach the three-minute mark, there are a few songs (four to be exact) that are 3+ minutes, and oddly these end up being the best, and they see Vader trying some new tricks. The progressive flirtations of “Sanctification Denied”, followed immediately by the odd time signature play and frantic tempo switching of “And Satan Wept”, particularly stand out as one of the album’s hardest-hitting segments.
I also appreciate the inclusion of “Emptiness”, one of the songs on the Thy Messenger EP released earlier this year. It’s a Vader thrash song, but it has such raw attitude that I feel like it was the right call to add it to this album.
More or less though, in the end, it’s a Vader album. That means it’s good.