With this promo-before-promos I am truly blessed and after several listens I am deeply into the new VADER. I have always had a lot of respect and admiration for the mighty VADER, a band that has been around for exactly 20 years now (!) and still they show no signs of letting up. This release thus celebrates the band’s 20th anniversary and it is right up there with the best works of this band, no doubt about it. It must be something in the water (or if you ask GRAVELAND’s Rob Darken he’ll probably say that it is the power of the Sleza Mountains or whatever…) but Poland just has so many talented bands that it is scary. Of course the trifecta of VADER, BEHEMOTH and DECAPITATED are the torchbearers of the scene and every time these bands decide to release new material you can rest assured that it’s gonna be a great Metal year! These bands all released equally impressive material in 2000, 2002, 2004 and now in 2006 we have already witnessed brilliant new efforts from DECAPITATED and now this album by VADER. I don’t know when a new BEHEMOTH full length will surface but let’s hope it’s not too far ahead in the future. Anyway, DECAPITATED didn’t disappoint with their latest album and neither does VADER with “Impressions In Blood”.
It kicks off with a great little intro (reminiscent of some Star Wars movie or something similarly epic…) before the band rips into “Shadow Fear”, a track featuring tight, technically adept Death Metal but not a whole lot in the way of catchiness. After this dud of an opener “As Heavens Collide…” follows suit and it suffers from the same defects – technically superb and intense in its brutality, but not very memorable. At this point I started to worry a little bit. Is this nothing but VADER going through the motions? Luckily the answer is a resounding NO and the following tracks will attest to that. “Helleluyah!!! (God Is Dead)” is a monster of a track with a slower tempo but a very memorable chorus and some great riffing midway through. Then there’s also the epic and somewhat emotional (on a VADER album?!) “Predators”, featuring some brilliant opening harmonies and more impressive chunky riffing. It’s songs like these that catapult albums to greatness, folks! “Warlords” is a track very similar to something that KRISIUN would come up with, and, not surprisingly, it is very good. But the band saved the best for last with the two instant classics that closes off the album. “They Live!!!” is up first and once those Thrashy riffs rears its head I was floored – super fast, yet controlled and still immensely aggressive! “The Book” closes the album and its intro is another mini masterpiece in itself, before some brilliant mid-paced riffs took over and just forced me to drop everything I was doing and start headbanging furiously. Absolutely brilliant stuff and the tribal flourishes that permeate the drumming doesn’t hurt either, let me tell you.
I have always loved this band for their speedy Death Metal anthems, but on “Impressions In Blood” I actually found myself liking the mid-paced ones more. There are still lots of mach 666 numbers present, but the band definitely hit a new peak in their songwriting craft , in terms of slower songs. Peter is as throat shredding (both in terms of guitar and vox) as always, while Mauser goes for the jugular with multiple solos and very tight riffing, whether it’s the HATE ETERNAL-like riffing in “Amongst The Ruins” or the technicality in “Shadow Fear”, he always impresses. The bass is buried a bit but that’s nothing new. Daray (of VESANIA) is a great replacement for ex drummer Doc (RIP) and his double bass, little tribal fills and everything else in between, is absolutely mesmerizing!
So another year is almost over and still there are no chinks evident in VADER’s armor. Nobody in their right minds could possibly be disappointed by this one! VADER is going from strength to strength! Let’s hope Trey Azagthoth is listening… (Online August 31, 2006)