Friday, July 25, 2014

Vader - Tibi Et Igni [2014]

And the flame returns.

A mere 3 years after their stunning, colossal, infinitely propulsive masterwork and offering to the Morbid Reich, Vader, the heralds and bannermen of the Polish death metal expand their retinue further, thereby installing themselves as the irrefutable kings of the scene. ''Welcome To The Morbid Reich'', I believe opened new fissures and gates for the genre at large. Showing that grueling on technical riffs or bashing out riffs like ignorant neanderthals wasn't the way to serve death metal justice; by finding the perfect, clinical yet buttery texture, the enduring cohesion and the years of experience Vader proof-read the deficiencies of all its peers splendidly. Yet as much as a victory that record was and a brilliant home run for 2011, your elation naturally disperses pretty quickly knowing it would be something of a mission impossible for Vader to strike a score as flawless as that one. Sure enough, ''Tibi Et Igni'', the band's first record with a Polish moniker, gushes out of the band's womb with not just the shadow of an elder brother, but with the pressure of insatiable curiosity and expectancy which the metal community has been harboring eagerly ever since 2011. So for the critical question: does Vader live up to the hype? Does Peter's outlaws of brutality ace the test?

The answer is, to be sure, a little complicated. As a parvenu of a band, with its humble origins as deeply rooted to as far as the 80's, Vader compels attention not just with its startling set of records, but also with its consistency, being one of the very few bands - in all of metal - to have actually released to many albums without falling shy of quality even in the least desirable efforts; so no matter what they do, after this point you know they're going to do it good. It's the classic forger's mentality, see. The more you work on the anvil, the better your craft becomes, and after a certain level you become proficient enough possess the inability to go down again. Hence, ''Tibi Et Igni''. To cut a long story short, Vader is awesome as always on this record, with its atypical stools of aggression and unchained hostility channeling an excellent level of durability and control, which is what they''re renowned for, after all. On the surface the riffing, the efficacious, infallible riffing that death/thrash maniacs salivate for, seems peerless. Yet as the listener delves deeper into the volcanic, explosive edifice of the record, some of the axioms about bands ''not being able to live up to their potential'' kick in and the gears start turning. Yet this is merely to say that ''Tibi Et Igni'' is not on par with its predecessor, and the latter was an indomitable record. So why the sullen face?

Contrary to a myriad of other bands, the drop of quality does not amount to something big with Vader. In fact, I almost snapped as many neck limbs on this album as the previous. And have no doubt about it; this record is a non-stop session of modern death metal meeting with uncircumcised, skinless thrash at its virtual best. Huge stompers. Megalithic riffing. Vader's style hasn't varied much, so there's still a metric ton of Slayer, early Death, Brutality, early Corpse and Morbid Angel in there, but Vader also elicits listener's with pummeling tunes that might just have been penned by some of their countrymen, like Decapitated, Hate or Lost Soul. In a boundless amalgamation of modern and antique excellence, Vader once more presents the unique Polish death metal sound with everything that is to brag about it. Whirling, majestic tremolos that crash through like serpents smoldering in fire, or some frenetic Ouroboros slithering unscathed, and there's a fair amount of technicality in the riffs that helps create some variation from time to time. And the leads. Those sweet, wondrous leads that seep through the record like molten gold. Perhaps what makes every Vader record so satisfying is that they're superb musicians, and that's not just say that the guitarists know their way around the ropes. The drums are terrific, clean, punchy and muscular, with plenty of machine-gun fills and double-bass plodding, and I don't even need to mention Peter's unmatched vocals, which, as the product of their unique vocal voltage and strangely appealing foreign accent serve the music splendidly. Peter will occasionally pull off a Deicide, infusing his guttural inflection with a wretched, snaring duplicate.

But those accustomed to ''Welcome To The Morbid Reich'' will find few novelties to behold. All of this; the pummeling discourse of guitars and paunchy drums,  the turbulent manifests of tremolos, the atmosphere of pure evil and sinister genius, and Peter's inflection are no surprises to the Vader listener. What does perhaps garner attention as a refreshment is Vader's explicit use of orchestral soundscapes and dreary ambient effects, which, despite being occasionally wrapped around a few of the tracks on the previous albums, have grown larger and bolder in scope and experimentation. We're talking huge synthesizers and howling winds, adding up to a downright imperial philharmonic upsurge of sound. Indeed, though not particularly renowned for their atmospheric tendencies, Vader can at times conjure the sensation of looking down from Sauron's tower to a gaping vortex of shadow and fire. This even works when the orchestration heaves along some of the heavier chugging complexes, but unfortunately much of the heavy onslaughts undermine the atmospheric quality of the album. Translation: if you're one for the aura, go grab a black metal album and try to keep away. Still, with tracks like ''The Eye of the Abyss'' or ''Hexenkessel'', one way or another any fan of death/thrash will succumb to majesty of the album; and I'm not even including the melodious, doleful death/doom masterpiece ''The End'' which pulls the curtains on the album and leaves you with an ear half demolished and half longing for more.

I admit that my first impression was not a very positive one. But that comes from the fact that, all told, ''Welcome...'' was beyond a superb record. It rocked and shook the earth and splintered its center to raise hell. Then all hell let loose. Yet quality-wise the main reason why ''Tibi Et Igni'' doesn't rock as hard as the previous record is that the Poles are playing it relatively safe. Very few innovations, except maybe an added speed/thrash current, make the record adherent to the safe zone. In their universal appeal both records are, to me, well-night equal in their masterful balance of brutality and brilliance, both smashing homages to the Floridian death metal scene and the primeval, rudimentary flourishes of the Polish death metal scene.Yet because we've all heard ''Welcome...'', ''Tibi Et Igni'' feels somewhat... drowned out. But it's still a sweltering wet dream for any death metal collector of die-hard Vader fan. So yeah, do believe the hype (if there's any) and purchase this record immediately. Reign, annihilate, Vader. Rinse and repeat.

The Eye of the Abyss
Go To Hell
The End
Abandon All Hope

Rating: 88,5%