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Fermenting & Calming - 70%

OzzyApu, October 14th, 2013
Written based on this version: 1996, CD, System Shock

I only have one major complaint about this album – the snares. Oh wait, I feel like I’ve been here before. Oh shit I have, since this is the same exact problem De Profundis had. That album was chunky and ripping with its bestial nature so thankfully that carried over to this one. Production’s very ripe with that dark tone and curdling, tumultuous drive. The problem is that the snares sound so out of place, going for that tocky sound. It even sounds homely on this one (think of it as everything else embalmed in warmth while the snares aren’t). For example, go listen to that kickass Celtic Frost song and you’ll hear a catchy as hell riff with a flesh-ripping guitar tone followed by tame-as-fuck snares. Sheesh…

I would say consistency is key, but for an album like this it can go either way. Some bands I dislike such as Possessed and others I don’t listen to very often like Dark Angel or Anti-Nowhere League, but others are baffling to cover from a death metal standpoint (Depeche Mode and Black Sabbath). To my ears, Vader are able to make this work most of the time. Peter’s at some of his most versatile moments here, going from his typical hoarse growls to gothic clean singing that’s effective on the final two songs. The Black Sabbath cover in particular is ominous, enigmatic, and does well to translate the atmosphere into a death / doom format. Something like that and the Depeche Mode cover actually make this thing more interesting, turning an otherwise predictable album into one that tries something different and succeeds in its own way.

That isn’t to say that the rest of this isn’t worth the listen. As far as the original songs go, they’re all good. Again, I’m no Possessed fan, but everything else on here is properly executed by Vader into precise death metal. Those Terrorizer songs are the best of the standard bunch – death / grind getting Vader’d is a win of all wins. The mixing on the bass is standout on them, with an autonomous tone that’s brooding and burly. Alongside the tearing riffs it makes for a thick front to the album’s battering. If only those drums were better mixed it’d be destructively good. It’s assault after assault and thankfully those blasting drums can be largely ignored, but god damn does that one aspect suck.

If you ask me, Vader went through production hell during this time trying to get the right sound. De Profundis almost got it right, but there was always something getting botched. Then Litany comes along and cranks up the bass drum and all is well. The drums on that aren’t perfect either, but I’d rather have that bludgeoning sound to the can lids here. The one here’s pathetic, and Black To The Blind jacks everything up, so it’d take them a few years to figure it out. Anyway, this is a cover album that has a few interesting quirks with it and overall does most things competently. It doesn’t hold any special value to me personally, but I appreciate it for what it is and when it was done.