Reviewed: July 2020
Released: 2020, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Kira Levine
With Darkthrone’s Fenriz being one of the fans who helped their eponymous demo sell out in a matter of days back in 2012, Vampire have been an underground favourite in the Swedish metal scene ever since. This spawned a successful self-titled debut a couple of years later. Following up their sophomore record, With Primeval Force (2017), the undead quintet return with third full-length, Rex.
‘Prelusion’, a blend of guitar solos and atmospheric sounds transitions effortlessly to the title song. A shrill whinny rings out in the beginning of ‘Rex’, bringing the horse featured in Mitchell Nolte’s album cover illustration to life. The second track is full of vitality, the riffs and shouts of “Hail!” adding to the triumphant vibe it oozes.
Full of nostalgia from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal era, ‘Inspiritus’ preceeds stomper ‘Wiru-Akka’. The track goes all out from its start, giving us insane vocals and speedy instrumentation. ‘Pandemoni’ gives off an overwhelmingly occult feel with its sparkling percussion effects and lyrics delivered in a sinister snarl laced over sinister shredding.
As well being home to some of the best axe work from Rex, there is some great poetry featured in ‘Moloch’, the atmospheric sounds within the bridge communicating those ideas perfectly. ‘Rekviem’ has a few tempo changes and fierce vocals that keep up with the faster instrumentation, in true thrash style. Eighth instalment ‘Serafim’ carries a comparable victorious air to the song ‘Rex’, albeit a little slower while still packing a punch.
Longest number ‘Anima’ gives off some early 90s Metallica vibes, particularly during its intro. It’s one of the slower paced songs, in a similar vein to the intro, which really allows for its lyrics to breathe and the guitar solos to shine. The song title is cried out repeatedly towards the end to haunting effect, amplified by the eerie keys that are heard simultaneously.
An eerie tune kicks off grand finale ‘Melek-Taus’, which mutates into a blackened thrash-style affair. All members are top notch in this final round, which mirrors some of the melodies heard in ‘Wiru-Akka’ in the last minute or so.
A lot like fellow Swedes Tribulation, with Rex, Vampire prove that it is possible to sound old and new at the same time. Their often Iron Maiden-esque guitars evoke the sounds first heard at least thirty years ago, while atmospheric sections and poetry from the like of Robert Graves and Emily Dickinson place their inspirations even further back in time. If you like old school metal with a contemporary evil undertone, this one is for you.