Live In Japan


Pavement Music, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


While metal is experiencing a revival in America, it has occasionally surprised me to find out some of the countries that are enjoying a good self-inflicted headbanging concussion. With no disrespect intended, I never would have thought that Japan was a country big into heavy metal and thrash, but Live In Japan, the latest release from Polish death metal band Vader, showed me otherwise.

While the overall quality of their performance (recorded in August of last year) is quite good, Vader does show that grindcore can seem to get old quickly, even if the material is otherwise sound. Especially for someone who is first discovering this band (and I include myself in that category), Live In Japan can be an overwhelming listen, as one tries to take in everything new at once.

The group - vocalist/guitarist Peter, guitarist Mauser, bassist Shambo and drummer Doc (sometimes I really wish these people would use their last names), Vader plows through a decent number of tracks, including a few "intros" and two surprising cover choices. If you've followed the band since their debut release my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Morbid Reich in 1990, then this collection is undoubtedly a dream come true.

But newcomers will find this a lot to digest in one sitting, and while tracks like "Black To The Blind", "Carnal" and "Reborn In Flames" do impress, after a while, I found myself becoming mentally exhausted listening to "new" track after "new" track. While Live In Japan did serve its purpose by raising my interest in Vader, baptism by blood is not the best way to discover the band (though I think they'd find something funny in this comparison).

The overall sound of this album is impressive, and the work of Doc behind the skins is quite impressive. There are times I am surprised that he's playing some of the fills he is; I never thought the drums could be played that fast without losing clarity or intensity.

There are two big surprises on Live In Japan. First, the band chooses "Black Sabbath" (from a band whose name, aah, escapes me) and Slayer's "Reign In Blood" (that's how the song is listed on the CD; I know the title is "Raining Blood") as cover tunes, and they do a surprisingly good job on these tracks. The second shock is the reaction of the audience when the show ends. Admittedly, it seems like an abrupt ending after "Dark Age," but the crowd actually sounds angry that the show is over.

While death metal is often criticized as being violent or anti-religious in its lyrics, Vader's lyrics aren't always the easiest to decipher in the musical onslaught. Tracks like "Foetus God" and "Crucified Ones" might fit those patterns - but without a lyric sheet, I'm not going to just lump Vader into that stereotype.

Death metal - and grindcore, especially - is not only an acquired taste, but whether one will like a specific band is very subjective. I won't go out on a limb and say that Live In Japan will satiate the appetites of all death metal fans, but it's sure to provide some level of enjoyment to fans of the genre. However, I'd hesitate to suggest checking this one out if you've never heard Vader's music before. Rather, I'd tell you to pick up at least one of their studio albums, get comfortable with that disc, and then pick up Live In Japan. Something tells me you'll appreciate it more that way.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 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 Pavement Music, and is used for informational purposes only.