Vader’s city of the dead

VADER: Necropolis

Release year: 2009
Label: Nuclear Blast

Taking another jump of almost a decade, we’re moving from 2000’s Litany on to Polish Vader’s 2009 album Necropolis, their 9th full-length album (not counting XXV, which consisted entirely of re-recorded songs).

As I wrote in my review of Litany, in the long run one of Vader’s problems is that on or around that album they discovered their sound, and have ever since pretty much just re-created it on subsequent albums. Whatever progression there has been, has been in small increments, with many albums sounding too much like one other.

Necropolis is a prime example of this. Especially during the faster sections, this sounds like Litany almost to a tee. Everything’s in place: the razor-sharp riffing, machine gun speed high-precision drumwork, and Peter’s hoarse, coarse shouting which is a unique trademark for Vader. Line-up changes and the passing of almost ten years don’t matter: precious little has changed.

Luckily, Vader know better than to just do their old thing again. It’s almost the same, but not entirely. Where Litany was a relentless onslaught of speed and aggression, Necropolis takes time to slow down to a more mid-paced tempo from time to time, revealing in the process some of the thrash roots of the band. A song like When The Sun Drowns Dark, with a killer mid-tempo, groovy thrash-riff is a nice step away from the machine gun rattle of the faster tracks, but even here the fundamental nature of Vader remains unchanged. Like on Litany, there is an almost industrial aspect to Vader’s extremely tight, extremely precise playing – no room for a human element here.

The album wraps things up with two covers: Venom’s iconic Black Metal and Metallica’s early thrasher Fight Fire With Fire. Where former is just a decent cover, Vader really manages to impress with the latter. With their tight playing, they take the aggressive speed/thrash riff to the next level and create a perfect Vader-take on the iconic song.

In the end, Necropolis represents both the best and worst of post-Litany Vader. The band have sacrificed none of their utter sharpness and tightness, and as a one-off album this is tight stuff. However, when put into the context of Vader’s discography, it speaks of a band sticking too close to their established sound, churning out a decade worth of albums sounding more or less the same.

You have to be a pretty fucking die hard fan to not get at least a bit bored by that.

3/5

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