Released: 2006, Candlelight Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Coming on the heels of a brilliant E.P., THE ART OF WAR, Vader’s twentieth anniversary album, IMPRESSIONS IN BLOOD, stands to be spoken in the same breath as such works as LITANY and REVELATIONS. 2004’s THE BEAST was a bit of a departure tempo-wise for the band but they have really stepped things up here while still catering to fans of the mid-tempo death metal dirges. Like THE ART OF WAR, some experimentation weaves its way into the songs with classical sections, strings and various effects but the raw brutality fans once found on THE ULTIMATE INCANTATION and DE PROFUNDIS is also found here. Perhaps it was the realization that twenty years had passed but IMPRESSIONS IN BLOOD is the perfect marriage of new and classic Vader, holding their reign as the undisputed kings of Polish death metal.
The majestic, film-score-like intro, “Between Day and Night,” shuttles directly into the jackhammer brutality of Daray abusing his drums on “Shadow Fear.” The speed of this track ranks as one of Vader’s most brutal and instantly silences any critics who claim Vader is getting old. The chaotic guitar solos here see Peter and Mauser executing fret-immolating, Slayer-inspired whammy dives, while Peter’s booming roar presides overtop. “As Heavens Collide…” shifts tempos seamlessly as technical, melodic riffs occupy the same space as blast beats and tribal drumming. The band also experiments with a spoken word section for the first time. “Helluluyah!!! (God Is Dead)” will instantly appeal to fans of the barrage of drums that highlighted LITANY as Daray explodes with a precision and brutality that has been building since he first appeared on 2003’s BLOOD E.P.. Daray further experiments with a tribal drum passage at the end of “Field of Heads” that has never been heard before on a Vader album. “Predator,” the slowest track on IMPRESSIONS IN BLOOD, slithers along from a grandiose opening to slowly build to a mid-tempo attack of double bass and ominous vocals. Vader tackles their inner Napalm Death on “Red Code” (a rework of the title of ND’s 2005 album, THE CODE IS RED…LONG LIVE THE CODE—coincidence or not??), a grinding onslaught of speedy riffs and blastbeats that is equal parts punk, grind and death metal. Daray’s thunderous intro to “Amongst The Ruins” is jaw-droppingly fast and precise, enough to move him higher in the metal drummer ranking with the Mournier-s and Roddy-s of the genre. The blink-and-you-miss-it neck snap, “They Live!!!,” marries old-school speed with devilishly accurate guitarwork and a shredding solo. “The Book”’s string-laden intro may lead some to assume an instrumental will close the album but once the double bass and guitar crunch kicks in, it becomes clear Vader will not leave its fans hanging on a non-metallic note, taking the reins for a final five minute walk through a raging blast furnace.
It becomes immediately clear that Peter, always the main songwriting force behind Vader, has overcome the death of former drummer Doc and given Daray some creative license in writing his own drum parts on IMPRESSIONS IN BLOOD. THE ART OF WAR E.P. shed some light on what Daray was capable of as a drummer but he really lets loose here. All the elements are in place for a throwback to classic Vader (only with vastly superior production) but with enough flourishes of the band’s modern sound and a few new surprises to please everyone. THE ART OF WAR whet fans appetites for what to expect here. Short, brutal and to-the-point, IMPRESSIONS IN BLOOD is death metal at its finest from one of the founding fathers of the genre.
KILLER KUTS: “Shadow Fear,” “As Heavens Collide…,” “Helleluyah!!! (God Is Dead),” “Predator,” “Red Code,” “They Live!!!”