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.