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War is hell, so burn baby burn!!! - 86%

hells_unicorn, November 15th, 2012

Nothing says war like a black flag toting metallic automaton, armed to the teeth, commanding his legions forward, and that is precisely the image that Vader conveys with their 2005 slaughter of an EP "The Art Of War". Far from being a collection of sing along anthems talking about the glory of war as the Sabaton album by the same name did, this is brutal, nasty, violence crazed death metal that gives the audience a bird's eye view of the carnage that is war's reality. There's no pleasant melodies to sugar coat the reality that the soldiers face, just good old fashioned thrash infused riffs played at about the same level of intensity as recent Behemoth offerings. An auditory treat for the blood thirsty, some might say, even if the blood spilled is the black oil of a human-like android.

Perhaps the greatest charm of this album is its brevity, as nothing on here ventures beyond the 4 minute mark and all of it features a distilled verison of metallic rage that leaves little room for a break. There are two brief ambient keyboard instrumentals that instill a sense of sorrow in the listener before the impending bludgeoning that is to follow, further amplifying the sense of reality regarding war that this album seeks to convey. "This Is The War" proves to be a fitting intro to the horrors that are to insue, kicking off with a monstrous military march feel and a heavy as an anvil thrashing groove that hits like a ton of bricks. This is immediately followed by a deluge of blasting fury and sepulchral barks that is definitely not for the faint of heart.

Through out this rather brief excursion into the horrors of the battlefield, there is a line between technical mastery and simplistic catchiness to the music that is walked all but perfectly. The guitar solo material, which features Mauser at his absolute best, definitely takes heavy hints from early Morbid Angel and Deicide, and flutters along like a pestilence of maddened locusts. By contrast, the rest of the arrangement is fairly formulaic and only occasionally resorts to the sort of frenzied tremolo riffing and frequent changeups normally heard in contemporary Cryptopsy and Dying Fetus, though the guitar sound and presentation of the traditional riffing style of the early 90s heard on here is about as vicious and mechanized as both bands at several key points.

This is definitely a key pickup for anyone looking for an introduction to this band's latter days, and also has clear crossover appeal to those who generally go for a more brutal and simplistic sound that goes with much of the present death metal scene. It's a bit further removed from the band's traditionally oriented thrash sound from the 90s, but it holds on to a strong remnant of it and is a good indicator of where the band still is as of today. If nothing else it proves that when all things are equal, it's best to stick with what works, and in this band's case the formula is a powerful mixture of formulaic structure and pummeling aggression. Wage war in good health.