Vader are one of the most seminal death metal bands of the past 30 years. Since 1983 Peter Wiwczarek and co. have been churning out some of the heaviest death metal known to man, paving the way for Poland’s death metal scene, which is responsible for such astounding acts as Decapitated, Behemoth, and Lost Soul. With Welcome to the Morbid Reich, Vader have once again released a pulse pounding death metal record, leaving nothing to chance and the world in ashes.
Whether it is viewed positively or negatively, Vader have found a formula and have stuck to it for most of their career. At times it works in their favor (De Profundis, Litany, Impressions In Blood) while other times it seems to hinder them (The Beast, Necropolis). WttMR is definitely part of the former, keeping pace with the extremity of modern death metal while staying true to themselves and their roots. It keeps its legs firmly cemented in the ’90s, with relatively simple yet effective riffs and pounding rhythms, but fits in nicely with the new fleet of death metal provocateurs with just the right amount of evolution and brutality. You just know a Vader record when you hear it; not only is Peter’s growl quite distinctive, but his pummeling tremolo riffs with a hint of black metal flair are impossible to ascribe to anyone else. Simply put, this record is one fine slab of death metal.
Like so many veteran metal acts these days, Vader go through line up changes faster than a hooker goes through lip gloss. The only original member (and the only one that really matters since the death of their original drummer Krzysztof ‘Doc’ Raczkowski in 2005) left is guitarist/vocalist/mastermind behind all of Vader‘s work, Peter Wiwczarek. I say he’s the only one that matters because, ever since 2005, Vader has basically been a one-man-band, with Peter writing all of the material and hiring session musicians to record and tour with (including Decapitated‘s Vogg on Necropolis). Sure, some of them have stayed on for a couple years, but none really seem to stick, and that hasn’t slowed Peter down one bit, as he’s continued to put out an album almost every two years since.
While 2009’s Necropolis was more or less “just another Vader record”, Welcome to the Morbid Reich stands out as a fresh piece of work in Vader‘s long and illustrious catalog. The album has a magnum feel to it and pushes forward with a ferocity that seemed to be lacking in some of their recent work. Returning again are the Herculean symphonic lead ins, which give the album a nice flow and break up what little monotony rears its ugly head throughout. Musically, it’s meat and potatoes death metal like Vader have been doing for almost 30 years. All the grooves are there, as well as the catchy and complex harmonies that Peter executes so well, and of course the drumming is inhumanly fast, keeping in tune with what Doc helped revolutionize so many years ago. Songs like “Return to the Morbid Reich” and “I Am The One Who Feasts Upon Your Soul” are rife with syncopated grooves and fist pounding death metal licks, while “Only Hell Knows” and “Black Velvet And Skulls Of Steel” slow the pace and reverberate through your bones like a shock wave.
Lyrically—as is evidenced by the typically nefarious song titles—the album focuses on the defiance of Christianity and post-apocalyptic war. Let’s be honest though, what would a death metal album be without the borderline laughable tenets of pure darkness and evil? This day and age everyone is so desensitized and disillusioned that these overt statements no longer carry the weight they once did, but to me that’s not the point. It goes back to staying true to the roots of the genre and the music and Vader are perfectly content doing just that. Hell, even the album art harkens back to the golden days of death metal and I love it.
All in all, if you’re a fan of death metal you already know who Vader are, and thusly probably know what to expect. It’s a solid and straight-forward release in an increasingly polysemous genre wrought with experimentation and genre-bending. Sometimes I just want to listen to some death metal, and Vader are absolutely perfect in that regard. Conversely, if you’re not a fan and know almost nothing about the genre, Vader is a pretty good place to start. They’re loud, they’re fast, and they sure as shit are heavy. I won’t say Welcome to the Morbid Reich is one of the best albums I’ve heard as of late, but it definitely holds its own and stands tall in an unbelievably competitive genre that’s about as picky as they come.
Welcome To The Morbid Reich – 8.8/10
1. Ultima Thule
2. Return To The Morbid Reich
3. The Black Eye
4. Come And See My Sacrifice
5. Only Hell Knows
6. I Am Who Feasts Upon Your Soul
7. Don’t Rip The Beast’s Heart Out
8. I Had A Dream
9. Lord Of Thorns
10. Decapitated Saints
11. They Are Coming
12. Black Velvet And Skulls Of Steel
Favorite Song: I Am The One Who Feasts Upon Your Soul
Since some record labels still don’t get it, Welcome To The Morbid Reich is out now in Europe, but won’t see the light of day in the States until September 13th, via Nuclear Blast Records. You can pre-order it here.