Originally written by Rae Amitay
Vader has combined blistering speed and technicality with memorable songwriting for almost thirty years. Their ninth studio album, Welcome To The Morbid Reich, shows the band in fine form with absolutely no signs of slowing down. Piotr “Peter” Wiwczarek’s vocal delivery still gives me pause from time to time, but instrumentally, Vader is still on top of their game. These Poles are writing material that’s as complex and crushing as it gets in “extreme” death metal, having added a new guitarist and bassist to their ranks. The orchestral tracks running throughout the record are a nice touch as well, without coming off like a desperate attempt at creating “depth”. The production is also very good, save for the guitars and vocals being placed a bit too closely together in the mix. As I mentioned, the lightning-fast drumming and merciless riffing can be bit abrasive (and reminiscent of Polish rivals Behemoth), especially compared to 2009’s more groove-oriented Necropolis, and the album is tough to get through in one sitting.
As someone proudly obsessed with ancient literature, Bal-Sagoth, and all things fantasy, I was intrigued when I saw the first track of the album was entitled “Ultima Thule”. Vader has been known to take on Lovecraftian themes, so they already garnered a bit of favor in my book, although it seems like every band out there nowadays is either named after the Necronomicon or relies heavily on such references. Nevertheless, Vader balances old school sensibility with fresh musical ideas instead of contentedly resting on their laurels. Having said that, the first full track on the album (“Return To The Morbid Reich”) is pretty characteristic of the band’s older material, only played at a faster pace.
“I Am Who Feasts Upon Your Soul” is decidedly the knockout track of the album, and serves as a five-minute testament to Vader’s legacy, while “Decapitated Saints” is an exercise in maniacally high-speed technique. Some of the tunes are a bit indistinguishable from each other, but this isn’t necessarily a terrible thing. The group has maintained a signature sound after decades of lineup and label changes, and without repeating themselves too much.
If you’ve been a fan of Vader for a while, this album will give you no reason to stop supporting the band. They’re incredibly consistent, and while this isn’t their best work, it’s in no way a failure. Honestly, I’m relieved to hear progress coming from a band that could easily pull a Morbid Angel move and end up torn apart by the metal masses, and Vader should be commended for this. Welcome To The Morbid Reich is filled with superb solos, wicked guttural vocals, and incredible energy. This is death metal done right, and an excellent addition to the Vader discography.