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up to par, but just barely - 71%

RapeTheDead, December 23rd, 2016
Written based on this version: 2009, CD, Nuclear Blast

If you've listened to a couple of Vader albums before, you likely know what you're in for, especially if you're listening to anything the band put out in the 21st century. In the 90s, they were still trying to find their sound, but basically all of their albums since Litany have just been attempts to recreate its thumping insanity. There's a reason why that album tends to be their most well-regarded no matter where you turn. Fortunately, they know well enough not to just do a step-by-step replication. They try and add extra little spices here and there, experimenting in very slight ways to see what will make the formula even better. Sometimes it's a bit of extra melody (The Beast), sometimes it's a more bass-heavy production (Revelations), and sometimes they just focus more on the faster, blast-heavy songs (Welcome to the Morbid Reich). None of these subsequent albums have reached the quality of Litany just yet, but at least they've given us a lot of solid listens with their own distinct qualities. What more can you ask for, really?

Necropolis is one of the more overlooked Vader releases. The albums that followed this are held in pretty high acclaim, and Impressions in Blood was arguably one of the band's strongest albums, but there doesn't ever seem to be much discussion about this one. Despite this being their first full-length on Nuclear Blast, it seems to get relatively little attention. Maybe everyone just gets thrown off by the different (and way shittier) logo? At the very least, Necropolis doesn't have a lot of exclusively negative feedback. You know what you're getting from Vader at this point, and ostensibly a couple of listens of this album won't give you anything to be disappointed about.

It's only when you examine the qualities of this closely compared to other releases that a few holes start to show. When you take out the bonus tracks (which are just covers anyway) and cut out the interludes (which don't really add much nor maintain the flow well anyway), you're left with an album that clocks in at about 27 minutes, which is fairly short even by Vader's standards. That isn't a problem on its own, mind you. If anything, I tend to prefer it when albums are short and to-the-point. Problem is, Necropolis spends a lot of time dicking around with a midpaced "crushing" feel on this album, which makes this feel even more sparse in quality. I understand that it would be counterproductive for the band to just be going full-blast all the time, you need a bit of slower stuff for contrast, but Necropolis gives these slower moments extra attention. If there is one distinct characteristic that could be applied to Necropolis, it's that it's the "groovy Vader album". Songs like "Devilizer" and "Impure" seem to be attempting the same thing that "Xeper" managed to pull off so masterfully, but they just don't have quite enough of a distinct personality nor infectious enough riffs. Since these tracks are some of the longer ones on the album and don't do a lot, they merely pad the runtime of a release that was already pretty sparse in content. This is starting to look like it would have functioned better as an EP.

That's not to say all of the groovy tracks on this album are bad. The closing track, "Where the Sun Drowns the Dark" might actually be one of my favorite moments on the whole album. Instead of trying to go for the "crushing death metal" feel, Vader instead opt to create groove through some much more simple and straightforward chugging that really showcases their love for classic 80s metal. They stop trying to sound like death metal and just crank up the Metallica influence, and it actually works! The crisp, modern production makes the chugging have a nice impact, and the occasional double-kick here and ensures it doesn't sound like a shameless throwback track. It's not that Vader can't do the groovy thing well, they've proven they're very capable of it on previous albums many times over, but it seems strange that this is not only an album with weaker grooves, but also that they gave them the bulk of the runtime. Maybe Nuclear Blast wanted them to opt for a more accessible sound? Who knows.

Warts and all, though, this is still Vader. The tracks where they do amp up the intensity a little bit like "Blast" and "Anger" are short, but oh so sweet. The production might be some of the cleanest and most balanced the band had ever had. Everything cuts through very nicely, and Piotr's vocal tone has a clear and cutting sound that gives proper weight to his unique roar. Like a fine wine, the guy only seems to get a more rich and recognizable tone with age. The drum production is clean and precise without being overly clinical, and the guitar tone also sits well in the mix. Vader had some botched production jobs in the past, so that's a relief. This is still the Polish juggernaut we've all come to know and love, but the killer/filler ratio is a bit more slanted towards the latter than it usually is on Necropolis. Solid album overall, but also a bit weak by Vader's standards probably only worth a purchase for more hardcore fans.

How to do death metal the right way - 94%

PorcupineOfDoom, October 4th, 2014

I'm not into my death metal unless it's melodic most of the time, but Vader proves that there are exceptions to every rule. Necropolis is just great. The vocals are deep without going overboard, the guitars heavy but not to the extent that it just becomes a load of noise. While the drums are fast they show a nice bit of rhythm, as the bass presumably does as well to keep the time so well. All of this is just a recipe for success.

I found this band in a random playlist on Spotify that I'd followed that updated every couple of weeks. The name of the band was what caught my attention, probably due to my being a nerd (you know, like Darth Vader from Star Wars). Anyway, the song was named 'When the Sun Drowns in Dark', and I decided for whatever reason to stick it on. The song wasn't fast, but it didn't go overboard in terms of slowness. The sound just gave the impression of something building up to a peak, and it certainly delivered on that. The riffs get heavier soon enough, and it really is just a great headbanging kind of track. Nothing too complex, but it sounds great nonetheless. The solo at the two minute mark incorporates some of the melodic elements that I like in my music, and to be honest the song just was the complete package. For whatever reason there were three full minutes of silence after the four minute long song, but that's not really what this is about.

For a while I just stuck with that one track because I had a feeling that the rest of the album wasn't going to live up to the expectations I'd been given by that one song, but I did eventually give it a go. And Jesus Christ, it's got everything. Heavy pounding tracks like the appropriately-named 'Black Metal' (although it still feels more like death than black metal) and 'Dark Heart'. Melodic hooks and licks that are just as epic as I'd hoped they'd be seem to find a place in almost every song. My god, this is just everything you need. The stuff just keeps coming at you, it's like it never ends. Truly, I wish it didn't.

One of the things I like about this band is that not one of their songs lasts for a period of time that isn't necessary ('When the Sun Drowns in Dark' could be counted as being over the limit I guess, but it's really overclocked and only lasts for four minutes rather than seven). Every one of their songs is three or four minutes long at maximum, although there are an abundance of short tracks that last two and a half minutes or less.

Still though, the album is great. There is a wide variety of metal (all of it of the heavier kind), and it really is quite refreshing to listen to. They manage to capture death metal mixed with thrash perfectly, and this is how death metal should be played by every band. Really great job guys, and I look forward to hearing what else you have to offer.

Business As usual for Vader - 59%

psychosisholocausto, February 23rd, 2013

Vader have always, to me, been a consistent and yet at the same time boring band to listen to. The band has its own sound, heavily influenced by Slayer, with blast beats and the notable growls from Peter Wiwczarek, the only founding member still to be with the band. And yet they failed to make any real evolution from The Ultimate Incantation, with each album sounding extremely similar, with whammy bar madness in the guitar work, speedy blast beat drumming and growls that almost sound like a low chant. However, 8th studio album Necropolis seemed to be the end of this, for me.

There is not a lot changed sound wise, but this album has a lot of fun added to it, and is considerably lighter than albums such as The Ultimate Incantation and Necropolis predecessor Impressions In Blood and Black To The Blind. This is not to say the band has gone soft, there is just no insanity such as the latter half of True Names. However, when it all comes down to it, Necropolis is still definitely a Vader album, and therefore is guaranteed to be a solid enough release. The first three songs, Devilizer, Rise Of The Undead and Never Say My Name, are three of the absolute best songs in this band's entire discography, in my opinion. Devilizer has its heavy Slayer influence audible in the riffs, Rise Of The Undead is just flat out catchy, and Never Say My Name is just so enjoyable to listen to. The instrumental work on these songs is consistently tight, with incredible drumming and guitar work that is ready to take the listeners face off. The vocals are as maniacal as ever, with Peter never seeming to age, no matter how many years pass by.

This album contains two songs that are covers in tribute to two of their influences. Good cover songs are no mystery to Vader, who have done various Slayer covers in the past, and this is no exception, with Black Metal and Fight Fire With Fire both making an appearance with a far heavier guitar tone and Peter's signature growls. These are two exceedingly well done covers, and can stand proud along side the originals that shaped Vader into the death metal titan they are today. However, much of this album is just a case of business as usual for Vader, who fail to do anything truly different on this album. They utilize the fast drumming and Slayer riffing and utterly insane soloing throughout each of the 11 new songs written for this album, and it eventually gets very grating. Each of the songs stands strong alone, but when played in a whole 40 minute album, they become very tiring, and it becomes a chore to listen through the album.

This album is a decent listen, and is certainly a strong enough death metal release by one of the fore runners of the genre. However, this just sounds like a lighter version of their earlier work, which truly is a shame to hear from a band as highly revered as Vader. If you are looking for Morbid Angel solos, Slayer riffing and hyper fast drum tempos, then this album is utterly perfect for you, however, and it does come recommended for a listen. It is very rare to find a thrash-influenced death metal band as consistent as Vader and this particular album embodies everything that people know and love about the band.

Death metal: the very, very basics - 76%

matt85210, August 22nd, 2010

This is probably going to be quite double edged as a review, because I believe that much of Vader’s 9th studio album ‘Necropolis’ can be taken both positively and negatively. Case in point, when I first listened to the CD, my initial reaction was “Wow”… I had no idea that death metal could be so simple and so effective, and was surprised at how much passion that could be felt coming from music that was constructed and written with such basic song structure in mind. Yet, as the opening track ‘Devilizer’ and indeed the rest of the album wore on, I began to realize that, as something written by one of death metal’s tried and tested veterans, this doesn’t feel all that… extreme. This most definitely is death metal, without a doubt: all the basics are present in abundance, the blasting drumming, crushing guitars and growled, powerful vocals. But there is a straightforward and formulaic element at work here that makes ‘Necropolis’ sound almost easy listening, which I am not sure is reassuring or a little weird, as it is after all coming from a genre that prides itself on extremity.

Admittedly, the band are playing with real intensity throughout, and there is a palpable sense of group unity on ’Necropolis’ where everybody seems to be on the same page as far as musical objectives are concerned, but the songwriting on show definitely does not lie on the most technical side of things, which I suppose doesn’t do much to alleviate the over-arching sense of simplicity of the CD. The riffs are nice and groovy but, in all honesty, won’t do very much for the guitar wizards out there, instead focusing more on crunch and impact than skill and showmanship. What this results in, however, is that the album is full of memorable riffs that stay with you long after the album has finished playing; I literally hum the opening riff to ‘Dark Heart’ occasionally. But notice how I said ‘memorable’, not ‘catchy’? Because, truth be told, there really isn’t enough substance in the songwriting on a number of these tracks to be truly catchy, they are just “simple enough to not be instantly forgettable”.

That being said, this album brings with it a number of merits; the drum work is pretty impressive and proves to be the main driving force of the album (because there is no way that songs like ‘Rise of the Undead’ would be as interesting as they are without the momentum and power that Pawel Jaroszewicz provides from behind the kit). The vocals are as unique as they are going to come in death metal: I can understand every single word that is being said, yet the lyrics are roared with such intention that they have just as much impact as the standard death metal growl.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t worked out how much time I have for this album. ‘Necropolis’ is fun and easy to listen to, but I think ultimately I am looking for a little more substance and musical vision when it comes to death metal. However, the biggest possible compliment I can give this album is that it is, without a doubt, THE album (and Vader are possibly THE band) that will help people make the jump from heavy metal or thrash metal into death metal. As mentioned, death metal does come in much more extreme form than ‘Necropolis’, but the death metal aesthetics are nevertheless there, and will provide the perfect platform for people who don’t know death metal as well to become familiar with what it has to offer. Not mindblowing, by some standards not even that great, but this album definitely does have its place, even if all it does is welcome you to the genre.

Way to be unstoppable - 95%

autothrall, February 22nd, 2010

Poland's premier death metal outfit has been on a tear, producing album after album of superbly crafted, simple death metal with extreme drumming and the unmistakable power of Peter's vocals, which sound like no other. Necropolis is no exception, their 9th full length album and one of their very best to date. If you've been clobbered by any of Vader's previous work, you will know what to expect here: a complete commitment to songwriting painstakingly engraved into each track.

There has always been a heavy thrash influence in death metal (after all, it evolved directly from that genre), and thus Vader, but it feels cranked up a notch on Necropolis. The Slayer influence is once again abundant, but well executed. "Devilizer" surges open the album with a concrete battery of grim thrashing death. The song is perfect, each of Peter's lines delivered with agony and intensity. The lead breaks are slavering and venomous. "Rise of the Undead" is an onslaught of session drummer Paul's footwork and deliciously old school riffing. Love the breakdown with its bluesy twang to the guitar. "Never Say My Name" fuses blasting aggression with winding and flawless death breaks and more of the tantalizing, brief leads. The aptly titled "Blast" will pummel your jaw hard enough to twist your neck at least 720 degrees. "The Seal" is a sweet departure, glowering guitar ambience with some chants to lead into the hammering "Dark Heart". The remainder of the album is consistently great, with "Anger" feeling like the new "Hellelujah!" this time around.

The limited edition also includes rock solid covers of Venom's "Black Metal" and Metallica's "Fight Fire With Fire", modified to fit snugly into Vader's style as if they had been this band's properties for all these years. The mix of Necropolis is just about perfect, nothing new for this band. Crisp and heavy tones, steady drumming and some of the best vocals in death metal (though I wouldn't complain about a more powerful bass presence). Peter is the only 'core' member of the band left, but he continues to surround himself with the perfect roster to get the job done, included Vogg from Decapitated on guitars.

Necropolis is yet another tight, controlled album from Poland's celebrated veterans. The sound is top notch and the writing is exactly where it needs to be at this stage in the band's career. It's not the best effort they've produced, and it falls short of timeless masterpiece status, but it is one of the better death metal albums I've heard (and am likely to hear) this year.


The ritualistic grimoire opens again... - 88%

Empyreal, December 17th, 2009

Damn, this is cool. Vader are Polish Death Metal personified. They’re so iconic that they ought to have their own little subgenre – “Vader metal,” or something. I haven’t heard everything they’ve done yet, but what I have heard is nothing short of superb. Necropolis…is yet another album that continues this glorious trend.

Rock solid Death Metal with classic and Thrash influences blended in seamlessly? Check. Peter Wiwczeck’s meaty bark adding just the right pinch of demonic savagery to the already devilish formula? Oh hell yeah. Necropolis is both a pure Vader album and a bit of a step in a new direction, with a bit less forward-charging vigor and more structure than is usual. It is not too much, as the band still sounds vicious as fuck, but there’s definitely a more calculated feel to how this is put together, with a conceptual tie-in story and some interludes between songs. I think this could have been done better, but as it is, it’s acceptable – the interludes build up tension, although they themselves could be a little bit better and more interesting. The charging “Devilizer” is a much thrashier, more classic metal-infused romp than I’ve heard from them before, and it fucking rules, and similar ass-stompers include “Rise of the Undead,” “Dark Heart” and the monolithic doom majesty of “When the Sun Drowns in Dark.” Not every song is quite up to this standard, but even the weaker ones are a lot of fun, and add to the slayage.

Bands like this are just the best – they’re consistent enough to where one is never truly disappointed in them. They are so dedicated to their craft of book-burning and dancing around fires and sacrificing virgins to Cthulhu in their brand of vicious metallic misery that you would think they would eventually get bored with it, but they don’t! They are reliable, but also energetic, making every release sound like it just might be their last, never resting on their laurels. Vader’s Necropolis is a supreme entry into the band’s grimoire of visceral intensity, and if you haven’t heard it yet, what are you waiting for?

Old school sound is what's new with this album... - 90%

AgnayeOchani, September 6th, 2009

Wiwczarek is a towering figure in the world of death metal. But signs of weakening betray his titanic status. What's more is that he seems least perturbed by this attrition of image; with the continuance of making music he's not desperately trying to reclaim what he's lost... he forges ahead simply for the love of it.

Very few old school death metal frontmen enjoy the respect he garners... He's one to fight to till the end... with this album, that battle against eventual obscurity just rages on...

Much like Piotr's gods (and ours too), Slayer, he seems to be repeating himself; Necropolis isn't anything new- Vader is already coming under a lot of flak for writing recycled songs. I however won't be so critical of them. It's unrealistic to expect artists to not repeat themselves especially from those that have given us so much and have been around for so long.

Coming to the album, what's new about it is that it's more thrashy than other Vader works. The tone of the rhythm guitar assumes a more warmer overdriven tone as opposed to the shrill distorted one that is ubiquitous to old Vader. Guitar solos are classic Vader. The album does not have any particularly catchy songs but the disk in its entirety, song after song, exhibits a consistency in both quality and pace.

Songs such as Rise of the Undead, Blast, Dark Heart, Impure, Anger, We Are the Horde are standard Vader fare, They are nicely done of-course. Other songs such as Devilizer, Never Say My Name and When the Sun Drowns in Dark are among the more original ones and worth looking forward to. Then there's also the cover of Venom's Black Metal and Metallica's Fight Fire With Fire. The Black Metal cover features the full Vader treatment, rest assured you may never be able to bring yourself (forgive me Cronos) to head bang to the original after you listen to Vader's rendition of the song! Fight Fire With Fire however sticks to the Metallica formula with Maciek Taff on vocals. As a kid who grew up listening to Metallica and loved every moment of it, I found this disappointing because I was hoping for the Vader treatment here.

Not the least, he album was put together very quickly despite the hectic touring and line-up changes. Taking that into consideration, it's great what they've achieved.

So there you have it; Necropolis! If you haven't tired yourself of the Vader sound, you'll love this.

As for us fans, we hope those banners on the wind continue to fly even higher and Wiwczarek continues to churn albums until the end...

The Father Returns Alone - 70%

betweentheeyes, September 4th, 2009

For me, Vader were an opening into extreme metal in my youth. As such, I have a kinship to this band, and they rarely disappoint with each new release. Consistency is key. Although they arguably reached their apex with their Litany release, they have continued to forge forwards in a similar vein with the slower follow-up of Revelations, and their last release of Impressions In Blood reignited some of the aggression that I expect to hear when I listen to Vader.

I don't know what happened between that last release and this current one (creative differences among the band?), but Vader put this album out with sole frontman Peter and a session drummer. I have no idea how much influence fellow Polish guitarist Vogg played in this release (if any), but nothing about it sounds like Decapitated. This is all Vader. Nothing about this release will surprise you. This is both the strength and the weakness of Vader. Either you'll love their entire catalog or you'll pretty much write them off.

Let's review this thing. Necropolis might be an attempt at a concept album, but it certainly doesn't keep the mask on for the duration. To me, it flirts with trying to keep a theme of something involved raising the dead...some shit like that. Eh, concept albums are for power metal bands. The production is crisp as usual, well balanced and mixed, and Peter's voice is gravely and awesome as hell as usual.

Songs: The Seal and Summoning the Futura are atmospheric "ambient" tracks. The Seal works because it's an intro to the following two songs, Dark Heart and Impure, the former easily being the best song on the cd. Summoning the Futura is complete filler. Total Nile "yelling at the wind" moment here. Back to the best songs on the release, Dark Heart, and Impure. These songs work because Dark Heart is lightning fast with a great main riff, and a speedy thrash break about 2/3 of the way through the song while a blistering solo melts your face off. Impure segways at the end of Dark Heart seamlessly and is a more of a pounder of a song. These two play off each other amazingly in the track listing. The rest of the tracks are pretty standard. Vader do their normal deathrash take of a bunch of songs. Some of the riffs seem similar or recycled from previous albums. The worst tracks on the album are Anger, which is some kind of pseudo-angsty song that thankfully lasts only 2 minutes, but god damn it's a painful two minutes. The other track, When the Sun Drowns in Dark, just plods along at hard rock pace with a hard rock riff. It's not a terrible song, but it's not something I want to hear from Vader.

The bonus tracks, with covers of Venom and Metallica are decent recreations of the classic songs. I'm not gonna wet my panties about them, but if you loved the songs, then it's another reason to pick up the cd. This album continues the long life of Vader, but it's neither revolutionary nor altogether impressive. As I posted above, there's a couple standout tracks, but it seems the "band" has suffered for lack of members and creative ideas to throw around.