Metal Blade Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


It's been a while since Vader has graced these pages - I can't explain why that's so, especially after their Live In Japan disc got a decent review from me.

However, I think I might have done the band a disservice by labelling them as a "death metal" band 18 months ago. Their release from earlier this year, Litany, has all the makings of a death metal album, to be sure - but Peter Wiwczarek and crew seem to take a different approach when it comes to the lyrical content, and allow the listener to decide just what the lyrics mean to them.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

It's an interesting concept - and if the music didn't tend to blend together into one metallic lump, it would be far more successful.

I don't want to sound like I'm ripping the band right off the bat. In fact, there are many things that Vader does that break the mold of traditional death metal, and I like that they're taking those chances. Wiwczarek chooses to have his vocals heard more clearly than many of his genre brethren; while they still occasionally fall to the rear of the mix, you don't have to always sit there with the lyrics to decipher what he's saying. Likewise, the band could have taken their speed and thrown the switch wide open. Instead, while there are elements of speed metal on Litany, the focus is more on the instrumentation, and figuring out how to get the most from the performance, not from the metronome.

As for lyrical content, I stop short of suggesting that Vader has a Christian bend to them, for the simple fact that there is still a lot of questioning about God present in the lyrics ("Wings," "The One Made Of Dreams"). Yet, more often than not, there are suggestions that there just might be a God, and if you want to believe in him, that's absolutely fine. Wiwczarek basically invites people to take their own meanings away from his songs in the liner notes to "Litany".

All of this would work fantastically well - that is, if the 11 tracks on Litany were a tad stronger. It's not that they're bad; rather, it's just that they quickly tend to dissolve into so much background music that the overall power these tracks could have had is diluted. Granted, at 30 minutes, it's a short enough album to invest some time into; maybe then is when the force of these words is brought to the forefront.

Litany is not a bad album at all. Ambitious, yes, but not bad - and if Wiwczarek and crew could figure a way to translate that into the music to keep the listener enthralled, then Vader could quickly become a powerhouse among metal bands.

Rating: B-

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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Metal Blade Records, and is used for informational purposes only.