Vader // Welcome to the Morbid Reich
Rating: 4.0/5.0 —They’ve got the reich stuff!
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Websites: www.vader.pl | myspace.com/vader
Release Dates: EU: 13.08.2011 | US: 09.13.2011

When one thinks of Polish death metal, the names Vader and Behemoth immediately spring to mind as the standard bearers. Both gained enormous exposure and both have been pretty consistent in output over the years. While I admit that not every Vader release has blown me away, more often than not they delivered heavy, satisfying death to the unhinged masses. 2009’s Necropolis was a one of their better albums and found them sounding hungry and hostile. Now, along comes Welcome to the Morbid Reich to steamroll it in short order. Featuring an overhauled, revamped lineup including a new guitarist and bassist, Vader seems to have a large chip on their collective shoulder and aim to prove they’re the one true lord of Pol-death. This is a WAY faster, heavier album than Necropolis, with way more blasting and pummeling. Its almost uniformly played at blistering speeds and aggressive to the point of exhaustion. In fact, its pretty much a companion piece to the new Hate Eternal album with a lot of similarities in style. There’s also some stylistic nods to countrymen Behemoth and even some throwbacks to old Deicide and Malevolent Creation. Its real nasty business from start to finish and its gives out way more of a ferocious beating than I expected.

After a decently imposing intro they come after you with “Return to the Morbid Reich” and it’s classic Vader in all its raw glory, just sped up some. Peter’s raspy shout/roar is in good form and he sounds plenty pissed off. New guitarist Spider brings a strong technical style to the fold and along with Peter they light things up with a speed drenched assault. Spider’s solos are impressive and almost neo-classical in style. You can clearly hear Behemoth in the writing here, complete with the blackened edges. From there it’s song after song of high velocity death with the brakes removed. The highlights are “Come and See My Sacrifice” (very fluid, impressive solos), “Don’t Rip The Beast’s Heart Out” (cool groove riffing and inhuman drumming). The best cut is clearly “I Am Who Feasts Upon Your Soul” with its enormously catchy, chunky, grooved out rumble and subdued but effective symphonics. Runner up looks to be “Black Velvet and Skulls of Steel” with a satisfyingly slow, grinding slog and a surprisingly melodic solo that could have been on a While Heaven Wept album.

Although most of Welcome is played at insanely high speed, these guys are tight as hell and technical to boot. Spider has a number of really cool solos and the riffing is universally good, gritty and crunchy. The drumming by Pawel Jaroszewicz is completely ridiculous and berserk. It’s a real shame he left the band following the recording of Welcome. Peter’s roars are effective and while he was never one of my favorite death vocalists, he brings his A game here.

Unlike the last album, the songs are longer this time, between three and five minutes. Between the longer durations and the wildly fast trashing, things can get overwhelming by the album’s back half. A little more variety in tempos might have been nice. Another slight issue is how high Peter is placed in the mix. His vocals are competing for space with the guitars and winning all too often. Other than these minor complaints, this is a big bad ass beating with a lot of wild music to absorb and little details to notice.

With this album, Vader may have reclaimed the top slot in the Polish pecking order. Welcome is a powerfully effective fusion of old school death and the technical speed of more modern bands. This is another great album that should embarass Morbid Angel as they sit in the time out corner, thinking about what they did. Finally, a reich I can support!