Vader have always been one of those bands that create a stir in the metal world every time a new album is announced. Formed in 1983 (and with a steady stream of albums since 1992’s Ultimate Incantation) longevity alone could be explain the intense loyalty their fans show, but I think that musical consistency is also an important factor. Despite numerous line-up changes, Vader have managed to put out some of the most excellent death metal every time an album drops, and fans have come to expect a certain sound each time. That’s not to say that they simply re-hash old ideas every time; after all, we’re not talking AC/DC here. Somehow, founding member Peter Wiwczarek (vocalist/guitarist) and company always manage to make their form of death/thrash metal sound fresh and exciting, despite the formula staying relatively unchanged.
Tibi Et Igni, Vader‘s latest release, starts things off ominously with strings and a choral arrangement, building into a crescendo that is accented by pounding drums; this soon gives away to some fast and furious guitar work, blasting drums, and Peter’s signature guttural yell. Right from the beginning, you get that sense of urgency that Vader’s music always puts off; some of the fastest riffs on the face of the Earth, guttural yells that sound like a general barking orders to his men in the midst of battle, and drums and bass guitar work that are designed to pummel the ear drums. One interesting addition to the sound is the occasional backing vocals that go into harsher territory with some high pitched black metal-style shrieks, “Armada on Fire” being a fine example of this. The symphonic vibe that starts the album is revisited a few times throughout the rest of the record, particularly on the songs “Hexenkessel” and “The Eye Of The Abyss.” On “The Eye Of The Abyss,” the orchestral arrangements serve as an intro to the song, whereas “Hexenkessel” is an honest to goodness full blown symphonic death metal tune, similar to Fleshgod Apocalypse. The guitars on “Hexenkessel” are super melodic when accompanied by the strings, but give way to some fast, brutal riffs, and even the mid-paced ones are absolutely punishing, making this my pick for best track of the album. “The End,” the final track, goes into gothic metal territory, and unfortunately doesn’t work as well as the other experiments; the music is slower and very gloomy, with Peter attempting a deep talking/singing style that sounds like it could have been on a 1960’s Hammer Horror film, coming off as a bit cheesy and contrived.
Production on Tibi Et Igni is everything you’ve come to expect from a Vader record: Riffs exploding into life with massive drums and bass throbbing beneath; vocals high in the mix (although not overpowering); and plenty sound effects, like wind, machine guns, and explosions. In less capable hands sound effects can come off as cheesy as unnecessary, but here they add to the drama unfolding in the music. The symphonic sections give you the sense that you’re watching a movie, and blend perfectly with the onslaught of death metal; Fleshgod Apocalypse and Hour Of Penance fans will certainly appreciate this. Vader connoisseurs that remember the overbearing low end that marred the otherwise great album Litany need not fear, since this time around the mix is balanced perfectly, without having the kick-drums and bass guitar drowning the riffs and vocals.
If you’re new to Vader, this is a great album to pick up as an introduction, especially if you like a lot of bombast in your metal, as they have delivered that in spades. Longtime fans will almost certainly be giving their friends the knowing “I told you so” look as they play Tibi Et Igni for them. Despite a misstep in the final track, this is a solid album that stands among the best of Vader’s discography, so you should really get a copy now!