Vader – Solitude in Madness


Vader are a reviewer’s dream. Now on their twelfth album, Poland’s finest have a right to assume the role of Manowar’s righteous crusader spirit in the world of Death Metal. This band earned their stripes and worked their way up the good old-fashioned way through hard work and dedication. We’re talking about a group of musicians that play an average of 170 shows per year during the touring cycle. Frontman, Piotr Wiwczarek, has been banging out the tunes since 1983, the first five years of which were from behind the Iron Curtain. Vader are Metal ‘til they die.

The challenge for the listener on this album is to find something to dislike, which is nigh on impossible. Blast beats, growls and ultra-precise guitar rhythms will slay you throughout the 29 minutes of this record. Okay, the formula on Solitude in Madness is a basic concoction of Morbid Angel’s classic Altars of Madness with the Teutonic Thrash of Sodom. But as an introduction to the band’s intimidating back catalogue, it’s a fine place to start.

You never thought they’d slow down on the cusp of their thirty-seventh year in the game, did you? ‘Shock and Awe’, ‘Into Oblivion’ and ‘Despair’ straddle the line between Floridian Death Metal and European Thrash with the intensity of a new band, never mind one as fine-tuned as Vader. Yet behind the brutal assault are subtleties that reveal themselves after a couple of listens. ‘Incineration of the Gods’ gives a nod to the Judas Priest drum pattern at the beginning of Painkiller before unleashing a Bolt Thrower guitar attack. It’s a fine prelude to the album’s standout track, ‘Sanctification Denied’, which sounds like David Vincent fronting Sodom with a flurry of whammy bar lead action as dazzling as Dimebag Darrell at his mercurial best. And it’s not just Death Metal for the main course. ‘Stigma of Divinity’ matches the fury of modern Napalm Death, while album closer, ‘Bones’, feeds us the type of crunchy riff MTV Headbanger’s Ball would kill to use if they came back on air. 

Long-time fans will be keen to ask if this is as good as their 1996 classic, De Profundis, or 2002’s excellent, Revelations. The answer is Solitude in Madness pulls no surprises and has no interest in innovating beyond a classic Death Metal template. They won’t win any prizes for reinvigorating the world of Extreme Metal or land album of the year, but to expect that of Vader is to misunderstand their role. Piotr’s boys are the standard bearers for Death Metal and could offer a useful lesson to Trey Azagthoth and Morbid Angel on how to remain essential with the minimum amount of rewiring.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 01/05/2020

Record Label: Nuclear Blast

Standout tracks: Incineration of the Gods, Sanctification Denied, Stigma of Divinity

Suggested Further Listening: Vltimas – Something Wicked Marches In (2019), Sepultura – Beneath the Remains (1989), Sodom – Agent Orange (1989)