That the mighty Vader has built a monstrous legacy is a rather inarguable point. As the undisputed kings of Polish death metal – and quite possibly Slayer’s greatest disciples – Piotr “Peter” Wiwczarek and company have been releasing quality material for well over 20 years now.
However, one could make the argument that the band has only ever released a few truly essential albums, chief among those being 1995’s De Profundis and 2000’s Litany. 2011 saw the release of Welcome to the Morbid Reich, possibly the third album to achieve such heights. It not only gave patient fans another album at the level that they knew Vader was capable, but showed that Peter had no intentions of merely coasting into his twilight years.
So naturally, expectations were quite high for Tibi Et Igni, the band’s tenth proper studio album (not including covers or re-recordings collections). While it might not quite reach the heights of the band’s greatest works, it continues to hammer down a point that its predecessor made perfectly clear: Vader endures, and is as vital as ever.
Like Morbid Reich, there is something about this album that just feels so alive, as if Vader’s energy has been renewed, a rather commendable trait considering the band’s rotating roster. Peter has an uncanny ability to find musicians who do so much more than just a mere “session” job on his albums, and this group plays together as if they have been doing so for years, with new drummer James Stewart sounding particularly adept at his craft. (The dude nails every aspect, from the Lombardo-esque ride cymbal passages to those requisite thuds.) An absolutely ideal production job is also crucial to the album’s success, as these songs have same kind of “brutal clarity” given to those on Morbid Reich.
A really notable trait of Tibi Et Igni is the occasional foray into dramatic, orchestrated material. Vader has long employed orchestral interludes and huge, dramatic overtures to augment their theatrical side, but here there is a more seamless integration of these elements into certain songs. One of these is the very epic and melodic “Hexenkessel,” which begins in a neo-classical vein before weaving scorching tremolo harmonies and plenty of the expected thrashing rhythms that do just enough to hint back to previous motifs. Similarly, “The Eye of the Abyss” reveals a depth of songwriting that often goes unlooked-for from a band with such a relentless, violent reputation.
Of course, this being Vader, the vast majority of the album serves up the bloodshed. There is a shellshocking, artillery quality to the combination of the band’s signature forwardly-forceful thrash and more brutal, blasting moments, while Peter’s grizzly, full-of-personality vocals may actually be getting better with age. Most importantly, Tibit Et Igni contains plenty of those fun, addictive little details that just worm into the brain. The less-techy-Decapitated “breakdown” during “The Eye of the Abyss,” some straightforward AC/DC-as-death-metal rhythms in the determined “Triumph of Death,” and killer one note thrashes in “Abandon All Hope” all serve as hugely memorable passages that help these songs stand out within the band’s very extensive catalog.
Again, Tibi Et Igni might not quite place itself among those few gold standard Vader albums mentioned above, but it says a lot about the album that it can feel like an ever-ever-so-slight letdown after Morbid Reich and still land firmly in the top half of a vaunted catalog. The best Vader albums have that extra special combination of energetic performances and top notch material that makes them downright irresistible. Tibi Et Igni exudes that quality, and should bring nothing but devilish smiles to the faces of longtime fans.