Released: 2004, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Gabriel C. Zolman
Any Vader fan worthy of the title is going to want this. This is, in a nutshell, everything the band has been working toward achieving since their late-nineties stylistic breakthrough. This is considerably heavier than Black To The Blind, far more consistent than Litany, and better written than Revelations. It captures the vintage Vader sound, and builds on it—never reaching further than the fans will tolerate. Ultimately, any true fan of brutal, thrash-inspired death metal is going to find something here to like; and any “fan” that claims to hate it clearly fails to understand the band.
Peter’s demonic whiskey voice is in fine form here, sounding every bit as feral and vitriolic as the toughest Hardcore thug. He even gets a chance to display his oft-forsaken range on tracks like “The Sea Came In At Last”—sure to be controversial with a few. That song in particular is unique—it introduces a number of non-standard Vader moments, such as subtle Euro melodies and near-gothic atmospherics (ala Kreator’s Endorama). Clearly, the De Profundis crowd will be scratching their oily heads on this one. Perhaps the remainder of the album is sufficiently traditional, if not for their sake alone. (Like Motorhead, let it never be said that Vader is unaware of just how much “progression” their followers allow.)
The album begins subtly enough, with a remarkably restrained intro, before the balls-out thrusting of “Out Of The Deep,” which is classic Vader through and through. Upon closer examination, there is a renewed adoration of Slayer on this CD; nowhere is this more evident than in the opening riffs of track #2, “Dark Transmission,” which is likely to be a fan favorite on par with “Wings” and “Fractal Light.” The sheer momentum, amid the richness of the textures is nothing less than pure death metal delirium.
This is something of a rarity—it is a straightforward death metal CD that I would actually recommend to non-fans, as exemplary of the band’s ouvre, if not the subgenre itself.
There is no filler here. The songwriting is top-notch (this was somewhat of weak spot on Revelations). For every song that pushes the boundaries of the band (“Dark Transmission,” “The Sea Came In At Last,” etc.) there is another track that maintains the vintage Vader sound (“I Will Prevail” stand out—this easily could have been on Litany.) All in all, The Beast seeks to please both new fans and old, and is probably both the group’s most accessible and well-rounded fiendish release.