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There are few things more appetizing than an old school fit of symmetrically structured mayhem in a concise, sub-40 minute package, and this has been Vader’s stock and trade as a pioneer of that fine art that cropped up in the midst of that violent fit of evolution between thrash and death metal. In those mystical days, circa 1988-1991, there was a bit more to the storyline than just unintelligible verses about the anatomy of a mutilated murder victim. The dark tales of spiritual distress, darkness, and religious conflict paint a picture of woe and dread more in line with classical horror, and emit’s a sort of class unto itself that is less heard of in more brutal manifestations of the style.
With their 9th full length album “Welcome To The Morbid Reich”, the message is a flair for brilliance amid a strict and consistent template. The aesthetic is all but a perfect modern realization of the greatest aspects of Possessed through the better days of Deicide and Morbid Angel. Room is made of punishing mid and upper tempo riffs that are more thrash based, at least by the more extreme standard, and the almighty blast beat is not abused in the name of a straight-line chaotic approach, which is more along the lines of what present Behemoth strives for with a different atmospheric flavor. It’s literally as heavy and a vile as the recent return of Benton and company in “To Hell With God”, but has much more variation and detailing.
While not really a massive departure from the band’s root sound, this album has a bit more of a grandiose, regal feel to it that fit’s the title. The orchestration work on the two instrumental offerings “Ultima Thule” and “They Are Coming…” reminisce of a grand film score sound, perhaps along the lines of a darkened variation on a Hollywood blockbuster. This tendency is then infused into the killer first full length and title song “Welcome To The Morbid Reich”, with all the pomp and droning tremolo riff trappings to cast a shadow not all that different from an earlier offering out of Kreator. The vocal work of Peter is the chief influence keeping this in the death metal realm, while the guitar work exemplifies a duality of chaotic evil and singing beauty. Other fits of grandiose brilliance can be heard in “I Am Who Feasts Upon Your Soul” and “I Had A Dream”, which play up the thrash side a bit more.
If quality is a requirement, this reaches well above and beyond the call of duty insofar as death metal goes. There are many albums that have achieved a similar level of majestic wickedness, but most of them were put out before 1996, and in this modern age of genre splicing and watering down the meat and potatoes in order to draw in new adherents, it’s rarity translates into an obligatory purchase. Now if only Morbid Angel could still put albums with this level of intrigue, as they did in the early to mid 90s, there would be an American equivalent stylistically to this fine homage to arcane sonic morbidity.