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The Art of War

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Album Review

Back in 1986, the words "20th anniversary" probably never entered the minds of anyone in Vader. Poland was still under communism at the time, and death metal/thrash metal bands (rockers in general, for that matter) were viewed with suspicion by communist hardliners (although the glasnost program of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev — who had come to power in 1985 — was starting to seriously change the political climate in Eastern Europe). But Poland — like the rest of Eastern Europe — turned capitalist, Vader developed an enthusiastic cult following, and the band reached the 20-year mark in 2006. Early 2006 saw the U.S. release of The Art of War, a 14-minute EP that breaks no new ground for the death metal/thrash veterans but is still solid and well executed. Maintaining their strong Slayer influence, Vader continues to go for the jugular; bombast has always been a major tool in their arsenal, and that hasn't changed. But Vader — in their own brutal, skull-crushing, mosh pit-loving way — have a better sense of craftsmanship than many other death metallers. "This Is the War," "What Colour Is Your Blood?," and "Death in Silence" aren't just ultra-fast riffs played at maximum volume; they are songs that tell a story, albeit a dark, troubling one. And the fact that the lead vocals don't render the lyrics indecipherable is a definite plus. All that said, The Art of War falls short of essential; EPs seldom go down in history as truly essential. But obsessive Vader enthusiasts — the folks who run out and buy their releases instinctively — will find this to be a tasty little headbanger snack.


Formed: 1986 in Olsztyn, Poland

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Vader formed in 1986, toiling around the European death and thrash circuit while releasing demos into the metal tape-trading circuit. Their 1990 demo, Morbid Reich, became a huge hit in the underground, leading to a record deal with Earache in 1992. This made them the first death metal band from behind the Iron Curtain to sign a record deal outside of their native Poland. The same year, they released The Ultimate Incantation, a large success in the metal underground. They toured with Bolt Thrower,...
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The Art of War, VADER
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