without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Let's preface this by saying this might well darned be 2011's album of the year. Prior to this record's release, I had very little exposure to Vader, but I was always intrigued by something about them, particularly their reputation as death metal veterans alongside Morbid Angel, Obituary, Death, and similar influential bands in the subgenre. Vader had the "it" factor if you will, but I never got around to checking them out, which, to be honest, only hurt me because I missed out on some bloody exciting music. And not only that, I assume Welcome to the Morbid Reich's cover art pushed me over the edge with its positively old school vibe that oozes originality in an age filled with sterile computer-generated images. From an artistic standpoint, even the album cover is a plus to the experience.
But first thing's first: Welcome to the Morbid Reich is quite a pleasant introduction to the realms of death metal and Vader in general--its brutality kicks you in the face and keeps you down and out, but for some reason you still come back for more. The first day I had the album, I must have spun it, at the very least, five times because with each listen it grew better and better, more listenable and attractive from an aural stand point. The last metal record I remember having such an attachment to showed its face over two years ago, and that's saying something because I typically don't get overly addicted to an record. Songs, yes. An entire album? Less frequently. Really, only once in a blue moon does such a thing happen.
Vader has thrown everything you know and love about death metal into the collective melting pot with Welcome to the Morbid Reich, but with unmatched imagination and creativity. Guitars, which range from chuggier pieces to rapid tremolo picking to extremely thrashy riffs are king of the hill and reminiscent of the early days of death metal. There's absolutely nothing tedious about the album when you consider how accomplished it is musically. The drums do an excellent job of driving the music with break neck fills and devilishly possessed double bass pounding, and the bass, while never deviating far from the guitar, follows alongside at a sort of hypersonic speed. Melodious guitar solos contrast and grace the mix with expertise. The accomplished musicianship is likely due to the fact that the only original member, Peter (Piotr Paweł Wiwczarek), has opted to gather a group of younger musicians who are proficient and efficient at their craft, offering a breath of fresh air into Vader's brand of death metal. Of course, he is no slouch himself as he plays guitar and bass, on top of that offering his growled vocals. But we can ponder the question: without Peter would Vader really be Vader? I think not. For a 46 year old man, he is unquestionably at the top of his game.
Each track on Welcome to the Morbid Reich is flawlessly composed, compositions ranging from blindingly speedy numbers to more subdued but aggressive pieces like "Black Velvet and Skulls of Steel," with its cranium crushing palm-muted guitar riff. Even the intro tracks "Ultima Thule" and "They Are Coming..." are delightful because they create intense buildups to the metal sustenance following them. As a whole, the band sounds very tight as if they've been playing together for years--in reality, every musician barring Peter made their first appearance on the record. It's remarkable when you think about it.
As I put my thoughts to this post, I spun Vader's newest. It's still as strong as the day I received it in the mail, showing no signs of creeping boredom that threatens to rear its head when you know you've worn out a record out by playing it too much. Dare I say it, I'll continue to play this album at least once a day for a few more months. I played it multiple times when I strolled through the gardens of Versailles, and I played it when I wrote a 15 page paper. Heck, I even play it when I'm laying in bed at night. What it really boils down to is my personal playlist including it multiple times a day. It's rare I can say that about a record. As Darth Vader would say: "The force is strong with this one."
Orginally written for The Metal Advisor ( www.themetaladvisor.com )