Vader - The Empire album review

Polish death squad get back to their roots

a press shot of Vader sat at a table on 2016

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Vader belong to a select few death metal veterans like Cannibal Corpse and Hypocrisy, who have the rare privilege of putting out 10 albums and more across a quarter century. However, with bands such as this, you don’t really want them to alter the sound that led them to where they are, yet neither will you tolerate them just running through the motions. But now armed with their most solid lineup since their triumphant mid-90s period, they might just have reached that perfect balance of conservatism and forward motion with their 11th full-length.

At its very core, a lot of The Empire’s riffing echoes mainman Peter’s roots in 80s thrash metal and the album’s to-the-point approach (most of these 10 songs here are between three and four minutes long) benefits greatly from lead guitarist Spider’s evocative solos and Reading-based drummer James Stewart’s robust beat. The whole war theme and clichéd Joe Petagno cover may come across initially as playing it safe, but ultimately the unashamed classic metal vibe, equals 2000’s career-high Litany and the thrash onslaught that was 1997’s Black To The Blind. Sometimes, old dogs don’t need to learn new tricks.