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A true death metal war machine!!!! - 98%

enigmatech, August 22nd, 2019
Written based on this version: 1992, CD, Earache Records

Here is the beginning of Vader's legacy. After a series of demos - which helped solidify Vader's status in the underground scene and proving themselves as a force to be reckoned with even against the then-burgeoning Norwegian black metal scene (hell, Euronymous himself was reportedly a huge fan of the band's 1990 'Morbid Reich' demo), all that build-up finally resulted in their 1992 debut album, entitled "The Ultimate Incantation". For me personally - while the band has obviously gone on to do many great things over the course of it's long and storied existence, this debut remains Vader's finest moment. A true landmark in the death metal scene that in my eyes, remains the finest metal album to ever come out of Poland, and among the greatest entries in European death metal history.

As with all Vader albums, The Ultimate Incantation showcases Vader's iconic blend of death and thrash metal - taking the brutality and crushing nature of bands like Morbid Angel and Deicide, and combining it with the intensity and sense of attitude you'd be likely to find in a Kreator or Dark Angel track. While Vader are obviously not the only, nor the first band to combine these two styles - I feel like Vader were the first to combine the genres in such a way that the genres work in tandem with each other, taking aspects of both genres - the best of both worlds, to the point that it forms a cohesive whole there's a really strong sense of what I'd call "sonic unity" here, even if the band is pulling from a wider array of immediate influences than your typical early 90's death metal act - the band is able to meld them together so well, that they're practically inseparable.

On the faster end of the spectrum, you've got tracks like "The Final Massacre", an infamous and iconic Vader number, which opens up with a really strong and highly catchy opening section that whips the listener into submission before the verse comes in with high-speed aural assault, which skins the listener alive with technical precision. Then, just when you thought you were safe - the breakdown comes in and bludgeons you back down to the earth. Elsewhere, you've got tracks like "Testimony" - ostensibly a "mid-tempo" track without as much emphasis on speed or blasting as other numbers on this disc, but nonetheless this track is essential to the framework of the album - providing some much-needed variety to keep things from getting boring or repetitive, but at the same time, without sacrificing any of the momentum that the album had previously built up. This track has a really unique sense of groove, with an interesting kind of "swaying" rhythm accompanying most of it - and not to mention, that opening riff is fucking sexy!

My point with all this is, the real key to Vader's success here is their sense of songwriting and composition. They're able to keep things brutal and precise enough to keep up with the masterpieces that were seemingly flooding out of Florida at that time, while also providing a sense of old-school attitude and personality not typically found in death metal, that gives the band a little diversity and helps them stand out. Add onto that some superb musicianship, Doc's drumming is absolutely fantastic as always, and you've got a recipe for an instant classic...and that's before you consider Peter's vocal performance here which is utterly unmatched. Unlike the shoutier, raspy growl he provides on later releases and has become his "signature style" as it were, on "The Ultimate Incantation" Peter provides a much darker, deeper, and more guttural performance which - while clearly taking after the like of icons such as Vincent, Barnes, and Benton - still carries Peter's iconic delivery and inflection.

The only possible downside to "The Ultimate Incantation" that I can think of might be it's production. While far from horrible or damaging to the end product, I nevertheless do feel the production doesn't properly convey just how powerful these songs could potentially be. In terms of sound, it's clear and professional sounding, but relatively dry and I feel like the individual tones (particularly with the drums) could use some work. That said, while the production isn't as powerful or fitting to the material as say - it is on Litany, it has a kind of Morrisound-esque quality in the sense that there's something very iconic and special about this kind of production in this time frame which doesn't really exist today - for the record, it was engineered by Paul Johnston, the same guy who did some other arguably questionable productions like Benediction's The Grand Leveller and Napalm Death's The World Keeps Turning EP. And compared to those...yeah, this one wins out.

Overall, while Vader have gone on to have a very long and illustrious career and have released many other incredible albums...in fact, not even one that I would put below "great", some of which I'd even call masterpieces as well...it always comes back to the debut, for me. There's just something very special about this album that still rings true every time I listen to it. This album is absolutely essential for anyone who's interested in checking out Vader or classic-era death metal in general.

probably their worst one - 66%

RapeTheDead, December 24th, 2016

If The Ultimate Incantation was the only full-length Vader put out before splitting up, I'm sure people would be hailing it as some "forgotten underground classic" or whatever. Fortunately, even by the time De Profundis came around the band was already molding a personality of their own. This isn't a bad album by any means, but calling it anything extraordinary would be downright dishonest. This is a death metal album that has trouble separating itself from its thrash roots (and the limitations that accompany said roots) and is perhaps only an interesting listen as a historical piece. When immersing yourself in Vader's later work, you can sometimes forget that the band was heavily influenced by thrash at some point--sure, they throw in the odd thrashy track here and there, but for the most part it seems negligible. The Ultimate Incantation reminds you that these guys were basically a heavy thrash band at one point. Hence why some people insist on categorizing them as "death/thrash metal". That didn't really make sense to me until I heard this album.

Many long-running death metal bands have an ambitious debut, one where they wanted to get all their good ideas out. Often fans retroactively consider these albums among the best the band ever put out. It's interesting and unusual, then, that Vader almost immediately tried to distance themselves from the constant Slayerisms that are present here. It's like they realized that they had already explored the full scope of extremities they could do in thrash with a single album. Doc's blasts have very little variety compared to the multidirectional speed attack he perfected later on, and they make all the more aggressive moments on this album sound near-identical. It's very hard to tell the tracks apart. Astute writers before me have pointed out that this is basically a 50/50 hybrid of Morbid Angel and Slayer influence, which is true, but I should point out that the Morbid Angel riffs don't have nearly the dynamic nor complexity they had on Altars of Madness. Even the more death metal-leaning moments on this album are restricted by the thrash tropes. I don't want to shit on this album too hard, though. Taken on its own, it's a solid album in the Beneath the Remains/Epidemic of Violence school of heavy, death-tinged thrash metal. These young Poles were just trying to write the heaviest thing possible with influences from all their favorite 80s bands, and it shows. That being said, it's pretty hard to listen to this album and not compare it to what followed afterward. Sure, all later Vader sounds functionally identical, but the difference is that it all sounds like Vader and nothing else, whereas The Ultimate Incantation is somewhat distinct in the band's discography, but only because it sounds more like other bands than it sounds like Vader. It's notable for being the only derivative Vader album, while everything else stays within the niche the band sculpted for themselves.

It's fairly curious that Vader's thrashiest record also has vocals that sound the most like typical death metal. Piotr hasn't stumbled upon his trademark roar just yet; on The Ultimate Incantation, he's got a much lower pitched, ranting growl. Like the rest of the album, it falls into an uncomfortable void between death and thrash metal. It's not quite sharp and biting enough to fit a thrash album, but it's also not low and gravelly enough to fit a death metal album either, leaving it to sound fitting to the music, yet lacking in power overall. There are a couple of moments where it seems like Piotr goes a hair off-time, especially when delivering more fast and complex vocal lines. That's not something I'm ever going to fault a young band for on their debut album, in fact many times that can contribute to the unhinged chaos of a death metal album nicely, but when you compare it to the microscopic precision Piotr and Doc had going on in later albums, it's hard to see it as anything but a fault.

This is a competent enough album on its own, and may be of some interest to those OSDM diehards that think metal went to shit after 1993, but honestly I barely even consider this a Vader album. The Vader I know and love truly begins at De Profundis, and if there's any consolation to checking this out, it's that it only gets better from here. Worth checking out if you want to hear where Vader came from, but as an actual enjoyable listening piece this is some third tier death/thrash.

Embryo - 48%

Xlxlx, February 23rd, 2016

Not every band can come flying out of the gates of obscurity and into the scene like a screaming, flaming skull. Even those who would eventually become household names, such as Vader, aren't exempt from having released underdeveloped, derivative debuts, as proven by The Ultimate Incantation. It isn't an abysmal record by any means, no, but it's easily a far cry from the monstrous titans of death metal that the band would come up with later in their career, and to this very day. This is Vader's facehugger, or chestburster; a scuzzy little beast, yet to grow into a slick, perfect killer.

The sound in display is an even mix of Slayer and Morbid Angel, and very shameless about it, at that. Piotr and Doc were clearly big fans of the aforementioned bands, with the latter sounding like a Dave Lombardo with a bigger fondness for blast beats, and the former aping the weedly woodly solos and harsh riffing assaults found in the likes of Reign in Blood and Altars of Madness. Now, all of this wouldn't be a problem if the actual songs were as memorable as stuff like Criminally Insane or Chapel of Ghouls, and unsurprisingly, they aren't. Almost all of them are competent, yet totally unmemorable, slabs of thrashy death metal. The one big exception is the crushing "Reign Carrion", with its catchy, brutal mid-tempo being reminiscent of the best cuts from South of Heaven, at least until it explodes into a savage blasting section towards the middle, before returning to a more pulverizing groove. Other than that though, it's a parade of by-numbers death/thrash, and it gets tiring quickly.

Another thing that takes away from this album is Piotr's vocal performance; while he later developed into a commanding vocalist with an instantly recognizable timbre, here he was still getting the hang of the whole thing, and it shows. He nearly mumbles his way through the record, with a rather powerless and very standard growl, which isn't helped at all by his rather low place in the mix. Other than the somewhat quiet vocals though, the production is damn good; clear, but with a great sense of grit and dynamics. Every instrument is properly allowed to shine, and the bass drums in particular have a pleasantly rotund quality, foreshadowing their future contribution to terrific works such as Litany. The guitar tone is also excellent, with great crunch to it, but sadly lacking loads of good riffs to take full advantage of it.

While not exactly worthless, The Ultimate Incantation has more value as a historical record than as a proper album. It shows how far Vader have come; from mere amateurs trying their hand at the style, to death metal giants with an almost impeccable discography and a great sound of their own.

arise from blackness - 85%

LeastWorstOption, December 7th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1992, CD, Earache Records

Vader is one of the earliest death metal bands of note from behind the Iron Curtain, and one of Poland’s most enduring institutions along with Behemoth. Theirs is a story marked by perseverance, strife and the unrelenting will to succeed no matter what the odds. The band formed in Olsztyn, Poland in 1983 and is centered around vocalist and guitarist/founder Piotr ‘Peter’ Wiwczarek, although he debuted with them initially in the bass guitarist slot. Vader’s second demo tape “Morbid Reich” (from 1990) would sell in excess of 10.000 copies making it the most popular death metal demo of all time. It is the first album in the band’s classic first era where both Wiwczarek and Krzysztof ‘Doc’ Raczkowski (drums) were the focal point and main songwriters for the band’s output. The duo would write and record all of Vader’s material up to the “Blood” EP from 2003.

“The Ultimate Incantation” marks the end of Vader’s demo phase as it compiles all songs of the “Morbid Reich” session, and the signature cuts of the preceding “Necrolust” demo tape from 1989. Filling out the remaining spots are new tracks written specifically for this recording. Although initial tracking was done at the famed Sunlight Studios with producer Tomas Skogsberg, the session was prematurely aborted as both the band and its label weren’t satisfied with the product. The drum tone was a notable bone of contention – and a close lid is since held on the sessions. Vader, or at least Wiwczarek and Raczkowski, regrouped in England’s renowned Rhythm Studios with producer Paul Johnson to cut the album that would eventually be known as “The Ultimate Incantation”. Jacek ‘Jackie’ Kalisz and Jaroslaw ‘China’ Labieniec, although credited as bass guitarist and guitarist respectively in the production notes, did not partake in the actual recordings of the album. It was Wicwarek who recorded all string instruments. It is the only record Vader would release on Earache Records, and the only one to feature the artwork of Dan Seagrave, who was a staple in the North American death metal scene.

One of Vader’s greatest strength was to combine high-speed thrash metal architecture (mostly inspired by early Slayer, Sepultura and German variants of the genre) and merging it with the then-emergent death metal sound. “The Ultimate Incantation” sounds very much like “Altars Of Madness” by Morbid Angel, but Vader puts its own spin on the sound by surpassing that record’s sense of urgency and speed all while retaining an exciting dynamic range. All songs here are high-speed exercises with an impressive amount of riffs per song, varied and passionately intense drumming while staying memorable thanks to a recognizable hook. Each song is incredible on its own, but within context of the record this effect is amplified. Even this early on Vader knew its strengths and how to capitalize on them in the most effective manner possible. Even though the production is supposedly superior to the initial product cut at Sunlight Studios it is on the weak side even compared to releases of the day. The impotent production is blissfully forgotten as every single song on this record is as convincing as can be. All the lyrics were penned by people not directly involved with the band. Although the booklet credits the band for the lyrics it was probably Pawel Wasilewski or Pawel Frelik who effectively penned them. Vader would persevere with this practice as the band focused on writing the best music they possibly could while other people contributed the lyrics.

As this was the first Vader album the sound hadn’t yet fully formed, and it wouldn’t until three years later when “De Profundis” shook the scene. On “The Ultimate Incantation” the band very much remind of a speedier, meatier and all around more violent Pestilence circa “Consuming Impulse”, Massacra and its debut album “The Final Holocaust” or a decidedly less complex and dissonant Immolation, who released their stellar debut “Dawn Of Possession” just the year before, in 1991. ‘Dark Age’ is one of the few new songs of this album, and compared to the re-recorded demo songs it is more engrossing with a stronger dynamic sensibility and a fuller grasp on being entirely death metal in design. It is also custodian to one of the more memorable solos of the album, other than the ones in the truly savage ‘Final Massacre’ which arrives mid album. That it was chosen as video track for the album shouldn’t come as much as a surprise for that reason. One of the most recognizable Vader traits is already fully intact here. No matter how fast, or how intense, blood curdling and ferocious the music gets it never becomes incoherent. This is perhaps due in part as Vader’s early beginnings as a thrash metal unit, but it really speaks to the strengths of both Peter and Doc that they realized this early on, and never strayed from that path. Even the uniformly relentless “De Profundis” never forgets this important lesson through out its incessant battering and brutality – and that is testament to the strong writing alchemy of the band’s central creative duo.

While over-the-top and steeped in esoterica in its own right, “The Ultimate Incantation” isn’t quite as thematically cohesive as, for example, Deicide’s magnum opus “Legion” or Mortification’s “Scrolls Of the Megilloth”. What it did share with both contemporaries is the sheer level of heaviness, conviction and musical expertise. It wouldn’t be until the second album that Vader found its true voice, and got rid of all excessive weight. The current subject sometimes just is complex for the sake of having many riffs, and piles on a number of sound effects (chiming funeral bells, etc) towards the end of the album. Especially ‘Breath Of Centuries’ seems to become a victim of that tendency. On the whole it is a solid thrash-fused death metal record from the then unlikely place of Poland. Years later the Polish scene would experience an incredible surge in popularity, before the fans moved over to more exotic locations such as Italy, and Greece. Vader will always be remembered as one of the earlier, and more successful death metal acts from East Europe, and from the sign of things – they have no intention of slowing down soon.

Where other early outfits in the genre were losing steam, or making creative blunders during the 90s Vader, much like US stalwarts Cannibal Corpse, remained focused and kept on a relentless global touring and release schedule. They did not wane in the black metal explosion, nor did they fall victim to typical 90s groove metal chicanery that claimed its most notable victims among the more popular thrash metal bands of the day. There aren’t many debuts that are this solid and convincing. Vader had found what worked during its brief demo phase, and was now looking to improve its chops, trim its future material for maximum impact and deliver the best possible product they could. Wiwczarek and Raczkowski would continue to be the creative backbone of the band until the early 2000s. No matter who plays in the band, or on what label imprint they release their albums – Vader never truly disappoints. Although the real Vader only emerged on “De Profundis” this debut is important for more things than its historical value for the band and its genre. “The Ultimate Incantation” is one of the better European death metal debuts of its day – and it is a benchmark to which many would aspire, but only few would be able match. Vader set a precedent, and it was killer.

Review originally written for Least Worst Option - www.leastworstoption.com

Transfer Of Power - 76%

OzzyApu, October 13th, 2013

Vader’s first outing jolts with primordial belligerence and baleful tones. It’s heavily thrash-influenced while being less emotional. The direct approach to this album leaves a little to be desired in terms of something more epic or inspired, but for death metal of the era it’s stacked with competent riffs. The formality of straightforward writing can be circumvented when the pieces put together something compelling. Practically all of Vader’s albums follow such a formula, which makes them a somewhat consistent band that still manages to deliver scything death metal after all these years. Peter’s maturation from here until the present is synonymous with Vader’s, and although the legacy isn’t all hits, their brand remains lit like an inferno.

The Ultimate Incantation’s got clean, cold production. The guitar tone is not terribly meaty or dampened by any vicious coating like a chainsaw guitar tone. What it has is a cut-throat delivery of shredded distortion much like thrash bands had then and before, but played with death metal’s vicious nature. It’s supplemented by a bass that glides along with it, although not with a ton of autonomy which could have provided a greater impact in callousness. So with the piercing leads / soloing or raucous riffing there’s going to be some tonal bending and warping. By this I mean it’s aggression first and foremost with a type of disarray akin to many early ‘90s death metal bands. The stampeding assaults in “The Crucified Ones” is what I’m talking about – little in the way of outright melody and more in terms of sinister malevolence alongside shifting riffs and blast beat (a lot of blast beats). “Reign Carrion” or the track right after “The Crucified Ones,” “The Final Massacre,” is a better example of something leaning toward the opposite; catchy riffs and memorable passages (those kickass thrash breaks) alongside variance and the same protruding chaos.

Overall the sound is together in that all the instruments are smooshed. This makes the album sound, well, less massive than later albums, but that’s also the effect of the production; it’s an old-school assault instead of the loudness dominating modern albums. Songs like “Decapitated Saints,” whether on here or on Welcome To The Morbid Reich are still as potent and menacing either way. Later albums were produced differently and involve different mechanisms though, so of course the variance in sound is to be heard. Even with this as an issue, the album’s mixed quite well. Amid all of this, Peter’s vocals aren’t a victim of severance. His growling is deeper than the hoarse “whoaaa”-ing he does later. This one’s less comprehensible and less pronounced (like a restrained roar). Both styles have their ups and downs, but this one’s good for the sharp riffs and clear drums.

Regardless of how much I try to pick apart this album little by little, I dig it some. It isn’t my favorite Vader album but it’s got some real kickass tracks. “Final Massacre” and “Decapitated Saints” were re-recorded and put on Vader’s best albums, but others like “Reign Carrion” remain here and is the defining point of this album (XXV has it, too, but that’s a special case). Stuff like that and Vader’s general formula make this one a good album, but not something of exceptional quality. The length of this is also a little off-putting since it’s definitely longer than it needs to be. It’s something that gets better with each listen, though only to a point where its standing is that which doesn’t go beyond Vader’s capabilities.

Excellent debut by one of death metals elite bands - 91%

Metalwontdie, July 7th, 2009

Vader’s debut The Ultimate Incantation is one of the first death/thrash metal albums from Poland. The Ultimate Incantation is a mix between death and thrash metal, most of the riffs and leads are played more in a thrash manner while the drumming, vocals, and solos are more firmly in the death metal style. In essence you could call The Ultimate Incantation an extreme thrash album, with a technical edge.

First off the songs themselves are mainly played at very high tempos and the solos are almost entirely played in the Slayer style which is fast guitar picked distorted soloing that lasts for a short time. Slayer seems to be a big influence on Vader’s style which uses a lot of Slayer’s techniques. Fortunately most of the songs are very entertaining and filler is almost non existent. Even when Vader slows it down to more mid tempo parts like on the beginnings of Final Massacre, Demon’s Wind, Breath Of Centuries, and the majority of Reign Carrion the songs are still very entertaining.

The band’s playing is very tight which shows they are highly capable musicians who exhibit incredible skill since most of their songs are played at very high tempos. The vocals are quite unique in death metal because they are bellowed in way that is easily decipherable to the listener. The guitar work has a technical aspect to it though the songwriting is much more based around the riff work instead of the leads which are mainly short and to the point. The drumming is nearly flawless and is very double kick bass driven with some absolutely pummeling rhythms considering its only 1993. The bass guitar is almost inaudible which is far from unusual for either death or thrash metal.

No album is perfect and The Ultimate Incantation is no different. One of the flaws is that there are too many songs and the length of the album is nearly fifty minutes just too long for this album. If the album could have been reduced to 9 or 10 songs, and about 40 minutes this album would have been even better. The second flaw is the production while clear enough to hear the songs well it has a very gritty and low volume feel to it.

The Ultimate Incantation is an underrated classic that belongs in any thrash or death metal collector’s collection. The best songs are Dark Age, The Crucified Ones, Final Massacre, Chaos (which contains some of the most intense vocals Vader has ever recorded), and Decapitated Saints. I recommend The Ultimate Incantation to any extreme metal fan who likes technically challenging death/thrash albums.

-5 points too many songs could have been shortened to 9 or 10 tracks
-4 points production could have used a lot of work

A strong first volley - 85%

Noktorn, January 14th, 2009

I'm finding that the longer I listen to metal, the more I'm beginning to appreciate the often overlooked virtues of music. It's not that I don't appreciate striking originality and wild creativity, but it seems that now I let it find me instead of seeking out what others are hailing as a brilliant new creation sure to shake the very foundation of heavy metal. It's nice when a band like that pops up, but it's much rarer the metal scene at large makes it out to be. There's another, much less appreciated aspect of a band's career that I love: consistency! It's apparently an all but forgotten virtue in a scene where bands seem to form and implode inside of two years, but when I find a truly long-lasting band that has kept true to themselves and made excellent music throughout the years, I know I've really struck gold.

This is one of the reasons I think Vader is almost beyond criticism. I don't have many sacred cows, especially as I have an immature love of attacking them whenever possible, but Vader is close to one. I rarely make an argument for a band being objectively anything, but if in the canon of death metal there can be any bands that I would characterize as objectively talented and consistent, Vader would certainly be among that select handful. It's entirely possible not to LIKE Vader; some collections of sounds just don't work for certain people. It happens. But my brain almost turns inside out at the very idea of anyone trying to claim Vader is actually a bad or even mediocre band. Vader's history has been a procession of once raw and now progressively more and more refined talent, and there's nary a dip to be found anywhere in the band's lengthy catalog of releases. And amidst that entire career, Vader has never been notable for merely doing standard death metal very well, but for having a sound that is completely, unmistakably their own. It's beyond replication or even reasonable imitation, yet possesses no gimmicks or unnecessary elements. They're the sort of band that just about everyone in metal should be modeling themselves after.

Being Vader's first full-length, it is predictably the band in their rawest, most unrefined form. Instead of the ultra-sleek, streamlined death metal of later years, 'The Ultimate Incantation' embodies an angry and turbulent style of death/thrash, though still with Vader distinctive style of riffing and gruffly barked vocals. It's a more definite style of death/thrash than you typically see; that combination of genres often means a death metal band with some galloping open E riffs or some vocals that are more shouty than growly, but here the thrash is just as if not more important than the death. The riffing is clearly very influenced by Slayer as well as early DM stalwarts such as Deicide, and the resulting sound is very violent and brutal but still easily traceable to earlier, more traditional varieties of heavy metal. In some ways it's the anti-Suffocation. Though there are some of the more outwardly obvious elements of death metal such as blasting and sawing tremolo riffs, the overall sound is much closer to an extreme version of Slayer than just about any other well-known death metal band.

Actually, it wouldn't be much of a misnomer to simply call this a very extreme thrash album. The vocals are throatier and more Benton inspired than most of the Bay Area bands and Vader seems more closely tied to, say, early Kreator tan Exodus, but principally the music is still very similar. The drumming mostly speaks in thumping skank beats and sort of delightfully primitive slowdowns heavy on the hi-hat and not much else, and the guitars seem to be a bit too articulate to be 'death metal' proper, and of course the vocals have a bit more thrash bite rather than Tardy slur about them. It's the sort of death metal album that big fans of 'Seven Churches' would appreciate as it never strays too far from its roots into the murky territory of 'true' death metal where the Judas Priest is all but forgotten. As a big fan of the death-metal-minus-the-heavy-metal styles, it takes me a couple tracks for this sort of thing to be appreciated, but it hits like a sledgehammer when I finally get into it.

I think the reason for that is simply how well put together it is; 'The Ultimate Incantation', like all Vader works, has a natural, unforced feel to it that seems to escape a lot of the more professional DM groups out there. While the feel of the music here is still distinctly more 'kids making racket in the garage' than the refined DM machine of later years, there's a very clear natural talent on display that shines through in the dramatically twisting and turning songs that just seem to make an arbitrary sense to the listener. Like most good and elegant things, it works simply because it works. While this isn't as instantly memorable as some of Vader's famed later releases such as 'Litany', it's certainly a worthwhile disc that can survive many spins without losing what makes it so great on the first listen. Very much recommended for thrash fans who like a bit more severity to their sounds.

A Taste Of Things To Come - 85%

corviderrant, May 3rd, 2005

On the heels of their classic and highly heralded "Morbid Reich" demo, the album that got them signed to Earache Records, comes this absolute monster of a debut album. Yet believe it or not, it seems...somewhat restrained compared to the albums that followed. Key word being "somewhat", as this still blasts away with a vengeance; this just doesn't have quite the sense of unhinged madness that albums such as "Revelations" have. Vader just got faster and more pissed off with every subsequent album and this is a healthy taster of the style that was still forming even at this juncture.

Half the songs on this album are from "Morbid Reich" and it's nice to hear them with a proper production job. Paul Johnston was a hot name at the time (early 90s) and his Colin Richardson-influenced style was a good match for Vader. The sound is deep and clear, with a nice dark ambience, with a solid drum sound and a good guitar tone that is heavily distorted yet smooth, a trademark of Vader's sound. No buzzy hornet sounds, but a great distorted guitar tone that sounds uber-professional. The bass, of course, is inaudible as per usual for most any metal album. This still is a very professional-sounding release, and I wonder what Johnston is up to these days? We need more folks like him out there manning the console.

Peter's vocal performance is better by light years than the demo days, a more coherent growling style that is stronger and more confident. His thick accent lends character to his lyrics of occult horrors and apocalyptic destruction, but it still is not quite yet the gravelly guttural roar that he developed in later years. The soloing, however, is disappointing Slayer whammy bar excess more than anything else, all horsey noises and squeals as opposed to the somewhat more proficient playing on the demo. Doc, however, still pounds up a storm to make up for this shortcoming, his tight and powerful playing really jumping out at you. And I think that this was right before triggering drums became SOP in the studio for metal bands, so his manic style impresses all the more.

As mentioned, most of the songs here are from "Morbid Reich", and the biggest difference is production quality, with subtle differences like the background acoustic guitar parts added in places on "The Final Massacre". But the newer songs are just as good, too, my favorites being opener "Dark Age" with its Slayer-like beginning and "The Crucified Ones" with its blasting intro seguing into a midtempo part with a very cool, clever riff. That latter song also features some slick double kick bits from Doc before blast mania takes over again. Of course, "Breath of Centuries" still kills, as does "The Final Massacre", and "Chaos" rears its ugly head too with better vocals lending it a more sinister edge since you can actually understand Peter better--but the lyrics are soo silly on that tune! They improved vastly in that field in future releases.

Vader showed the world that Poland could produce metal music that was as good as anywhere else in Europe or America with this album. And they opened the floodgates and how with this release! This is well worth your time if you'd like to see where they got their start and compare it to how they've grown and progressed over the years.

Some of their best songs! - 90%

RilontskY2, April 21st, 2005

The Ultimate Incantation seems to be underrated and sometimes forgotten by a lot of fans but it is a great album and one of Vader's best. Although it may not meet the level of production and musicianship found on the other albums, these are still some of the best songs Vader has written. Each song has a strong identity of its own, which is an important trait that the newest Vader albums lack.

The vocals and production always get criticized and it’s fair criticism, but to allow these issues to ruin the album is a big mistake. It is still very enjoyable to listen to. The production isn't that bad for 1992 and the vocals are arguably quite good. Personally, I enjoy them.

The songs are literally perfect. Dark Age begins and from then on the album moves from one great song to the next until it ends. That's all there is to it. There's nothing at all I can criticize here other than the issues of the recording process.

Consider the re-recordings of Final Massacre and Breath of Centuries on Litany and Kingdom, few would disagree that both songs sound brilliant after being recorded under better conditions. Any other song from this album would sound just as impressive. Even as it is, The Ultimate Incantation kicks ass the whole way through.

I believe if these songs had been recorded with a De Profundis or Litany sound then The Ultimate Incantation would easily be regarded as Vader's best by most fans.