Release year: 2000
Label: Metal Blade Records
From the demo collection Reborn In Chaos (our review here), we’re jumping some ten years ahead and on to Litany, Polish death metal machine Vader’s 2000 album, which is a good representative of a typical Vader album – in both good and bad.
It is also quite often regarded quite highly in their discography, which currently spans 11 full-length albums and a slew of smaller releases.
Some ten years after the two demos compiled together on the aforementioned Reborn In Chaos, eg. Necrolust from 1989 and Morbid Reich from 1990, the Poles had put out four albums (Litany is album number five) and established the style they’re most famous for. No more of the thrashing death reminiscent of early Sepultura here, this is 100% pure Vader death metal.
Ever since establishing their trademark style, Vader have occupied a niché of their own. They’ve never been a particularly brutal band as far as death metal goes, nor have they been overly technical. They not thrashing, they’re not black metal influenced, they don’t grind. It’s impossible to call this anything but Vader death metal. From Peter’s vocals, more of a hoarse, masculine shout than guttural death metal growls, to Mauser’s rhythmic pin-point riffing, on to Doc’s surgically precise, industrially effective machine gun drumming, this sounds like Vader and no one else. Possibly later on some (Polish) death metal bands have adopted a style slightly similar, but even so Vader’s sound is entirely their own.
On the upside, Vader’s style of death metal is extremely honed, like a sharpened blade, with tight drumming, tight riffing and songs that mesh. There’s no fumbling, no playing off rhythm, and especially Doc’s drumwork sounds like the stuff you calibrate a metronome on even when he blasts away at rapid fire speeds. The downside is a certain cold, clinical and sterile feeling. There’s nothing organic, living or breathing about the songs. There’s a sort of industrialized nature to this level of on-time playing, emphasized by the sharp, crisp and clear sound. Compared to some other bands with a more human, organic element to their playing, the atmosphere and aggression suffers. This sounds colder, I’m even tempted to say robotic, than does the album good.
Considering Vader have built their career on this sound, it’s obvious Litany pretty much nails how the band envision their own sound. With that in mind, it’s hard to criticize the way Litany sounds and still claim to like Vader as a band. If any real criticism can raised toward Litany and Vader from the viewpoint of a fan, it would be that they’ve stuck too rigidly to the blueprint this – and so many other albums – was made from. In the end it means that for a casual listener, more than two or three Vader albums is redundant. You’ve already heard what they sounds like.
Sadly, and this is the major weakness of an otherwise strong album such as Litany, this sameyness extends to the songs on any given album: very few of them stand out. It’s all cut too much from the same cloth.
But even if you’re one of those who don’t feel like filling up their collection with same sounding albums, one of them for whom just two or three albums of Vader doing what Vaders do is enough, Litany should be a strong contender to be among that lot.