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----ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR: www.headbangers.in----
20 years ago when death metal was a very new concept, almost any album worked. All it needed was guttural vocals, furious low-tuned pentatonic rhythms and blast beats. It was musical brutality at its visceral best for that age. Now, however, bands that try only that bookish formula end up with stale music. However, there are bands like Vader that keep reinventing their own formula for every album, hence they keep adding something new to their sound. Like wine, they improve with age.
'Welcome to the Morbid Reich' is, if nothing else, Vader's most dramatic offering to date. It is one of the few death metal albums in existence to open with an orchestral tune, 'Ultima Thule'. This orchestral vibe is maintained in the intro of the next track, 'Return to the Morbid Reich', resulting in an epic set of tremolos and breakdowns that dive headlong into the rest of the album. Now, groove has always been an ally of this band, and on this album they have really used it well. They haven't drenched their music in it, resulting in something far removed from a death metal sound, nor have they used it too stingily. It has its latent presence in the heavy tremolo barrages, in the powerful chugged sections, and of course, in the drum beats.
There are sections, however, where one does feel that the groove is taking away emotion from the song, and at other times the 'brutality' is doing the same. Examples are 'Only Hell Knows', 'Come and See My Sacrifice', and 'Lord of Thorns', but there are more good things than bad about this album. Two of them are 'I Am Who Feasts Upon Your Soul' and 'Don't Rip the Beast's Heart Out'. Both songs have a great sense of tremolo mathematics, have a lot of beat and groove variations, and are inherently simple yet powerfully effective examples of songwriting. Both songs provide a dark and doom-laden vibe as do the closing tracks 'They Are Coming' and 'Black Velvet and Skulls of Steel'.
The vocals have nothing new about them and are the regular half-spoken, half-growled strains of Piotr Wiwczarek. The guitar solos are well-executed while not being overly technical and have a memorable tune to them for the most part (it's also great to not hear them relax into the 'whammy bar' trap inspired heavily by Kerry King). In the end, this album will definitely be one of 2011's memorable albums and will also be an album that death metal fans won't forget in too much of a hurry.