BY: TJ FOWLER
Label: Nuclear Blast
Ok. Consider me a convert. Or at least a Vader convert. I was never a big death metal guy. The genre just seemed to too abrasive for my tastes especially with the vocals and many times with the music as well. When I first listened to Vader….which was with their last album Tibi Et Igni, I was left a little mixed but it had songs that I enjoyed a lot like their single ‘Triumph of Death’ but other songs on the album seemed a bit to erratic.
Now we have a new offering, ‘The Empire’. Which in my opinion is a more lean and mean killing machine. And for me, that makes the album as a whole more accessible to listeners like me who are relatively new to Vader or Death metal in general.
Since I only have the last album to compare ‘The Empire’ to as a main focal point this review will essentially be comparing only those two. So the first big thing I noticed differently was the song length. On ‘The Empire’ you have a good number of songs that come in under three minutes. They are fast, furious and lethal. To me I found this to be the one overall thing that makes this album more listenable to than Tibi Et Igni. With the shorter songs I think it keeps the listener from getting bored too fast. When I spoke to drummer, James Stewart about this he also agreed and on this album the band felt they wanted to write songs that would keep a listener more vested in the material which I think was a great idea.
Also, Vader are known for writing songs that can sound very erratic and chaotic with their riffs which is what their trademark is but they are also known for writing more ‘traditional’ song compositions. ‘Triumph of Death’ for example was the song that lured me into Vader from their last album. On ‘The Empire’ there are two such tracks I feel are fantastic examples of traditional songwriting from Vader. ‘Iron Reign’ and ‘Send me Back To Hell’ I found to be two very fantastic mid-tempo songs I hope find their way into Vader’s live set list. These two songs alone with their lyrics and music helped me visualize the vileness, destruction of war and murder contained in them. Anytime a song can do that I consider them big winners.
Another selling point for me on this album is what I usually consider the big negative with death metal. It is Peter’s vocals. While yes, he is growler, he is a growler I can understand and his style fits the war, despair and hell tinged lyrics of the songs.
I really can’t say too many things in the negative about ‘The Empire’. It is raw, brutal and everything a death metal fan would like I suppose. Hell, the album converted me and I am power metal/traditional metal guy. So take that for what it is worth which I hope means a purchase fo the album!