Vader- The Empire

Europeans just do it better.  What can I say?  Legendary, Polish, death/thrashers, Vader simply outdid themselves with this release.  As a formative band in the death metal genre, Vader has manged to maintain their energy and aggression after thirty years and remain a dominant force in the death/thrash genre, with riffs that cut to the bone, leads that blister, and drums that pummel. The Empire is the band’s thirteenth full length release and I give them a lot of credit, as it’s notably difficult for many bands to maintain the kind of hungry energy Vader does on this release after so long in the game.  Perhaps their black leather ensembles have melded to their skin and they’ve become some kind of death metal super villains set on destroying the world with blast and leads.  Who knows but whatever they’re doing is working for them.

Many of the tracks on The Empire focus on the band’s thrashier elements.  The opening track, “Angels of Steel”, is as bludgeoning as ever in its ferocity, causing listeners to immediately take notice.  Vader is not intended to be background music.  By the time the third song rolls around, you’re ready for an anthemic kind of thrash hit, like “Prayer to the God of War”.  I wasn’t too impressed by the decision to immediately follow the fist pumping thrasher, “Prayer to the God of War” with another slower, thrashier tune, “Iron Reign”.  I was admittedly craving something a little more crushing.  Thankfully, Vader delivered with the following track, “No Gravity”.

The two songs that really stuck out to me on this album were “Genocidius” and “Parrabellum”, which is arguably the heaviest thrash song released all year.  Ending the album with the slow, chugging, thrash track, “Send Me Back To Hell”, was a bit weak in my opinion, but I have very few complaints about this album overall.  The Empire is old school to the core and I give Vader props for sticking to their guns after over thirty years at it.  This is a good one.

8/10

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Gutted- Martyr Creation

I’m admittedly late to the game in discovering Hungary’s technical death/grind outfit, Gutted but after seeing them destroy at Las Vegas Deathfest, I had to say something.  Their energy live blew me away so I found it fit to give them money and procure a CD.  I’m glad I did.  Martyr Creation is bludgeoning from beginning to end.

The CD starts with a dramatic intro entitled “Chaos of the Beginning”.  The remainder of the LP seems to follow the trajectory of a concept album based on the chaotic nature of creation itself.  “Cosmos of Humans” punches listeners in the face immediately following the slow build up of the intro and this energy continues throughout the album.  The sound on Martyr Creation seems to embody a sort of controlled chaos.  Tangible yet entirely insane, in a good way.

The album is heavy in a way that it forces listeners to take notice.  Technical elements are tasteful, however, and not difficult to digest or in any way distracting from the flow of the album.  The leads are prominently pushed to the forefront in production.  They maintain a melodic element while never losing sight of the chaotic theme of the band’s sound.  I really give Gutted credit for their ability to write technical riffs and leads without losing the emotional aspect in the process.  So few technical bands are able to achieve this.  The result is an LP that induces self-administered whiplash.

For the most part, Martyr Creation blast off into an endless fury of speed, energy, and blasts from beginning to end, in true grind fashion, but tracks like “Deeper than Hell” deviate a bit from the formula with a short break into a clip of spooky background noises and creepy, Children of the Corn like echoes.  This is the heart of the band’s originality.  Sándor Hajnali’s growls complement the fury of Gutted’s sound perfectly and the production is good in the sense that you can hear every instrument without losing the rawness of the band’s death/grind style.

My only complaint would be that, in some ways, the tracks seemed to meld together with one track indistinguishable from the next.  Although there were moments that stuck out.  The solo in “Fades Away” is utterly insane and the breakdown in “False Happiness” hits you harder than the belligerent fat dude in the pit.  Overall, this is a solid release from a band you should definitely be listening to if you’re not already.

8/10