Describing a band as “reliable” might seem like damning them with faint praise; but, in the case of Vader, it’s anything but. The death/thrash stalwarts were a fundamental part of the metal scene forming in their native Poland and, in the 31 years since releasing their first demo, are yet to release a bad record. Nor are they to release one that really veers from their template of blasting drums, aggressive riffs, sinister leads and solos, and Piotr “Peter” Wiwczarek’s distinctive vocals that fall somewhere between a bellow and a rasp.
There’s the odd bit of variation here and there, but on the whole, Vader occupy a similar space to Motörhead or AC/DC – bands who have considerable discographies, and from whom you know exactly what you’re gonna get. So it is with latest EP, Thy Messenger, containing four tracks of Vader’s trademark metal, including a re-recorded version of “Litany” from the 2000 album of the same name, plus a Judas Priest cover.
As such, it can be difficult to really assess just how good Thy Messenger is. (Pre-save and pre-order links can be found here.) If you’ve enjoyed any of Vader’s previous records, then you’ll enjoy this one. The songs are as solid as ever, and there’s some especially effective leads and solos on the re-recorded version of “Litany.” Third track, “Emptiness,” stands out due to its solos, which take the blues roots of classic metal and filter them through the speed and aggression of thrash, with thrilling results.
The “Grand Deceiver” is most certainly not lying about this song’s quality.
But really, what’s offered is nothing new – and that’s fine! No one wants Vader to sound like anything other than Vader. They’re like a bottle of Coca-Cola or a Big Mac – you like them because you know exactly what you’re gonna get, and what you get is good. Even the Judas Priest cover is only a surprise in the choice of song, with Vader taking the British Steel deep-cut “Steeler” and running it through their death/thrash filter, upping the aggression and speed but otherwise leaving the song largely as it originally was.
All of which is very good – after so many years, to have never released a record that would rate less than a 7 out of 10 is some achievement, and Thy Messenger keeps that record intact. There’s seemingly no chance of them releasing their version of Diabolus in Musica or St. Anger, shifting significantly in direction with divisive results. Given that it acts as something of a teaser for their new album due out at the end of the year, Thy Messenger does what it intends to do, showing that Vader are as fired-up as ever, that there’s no dip in quality, and that they still sound like Vader – and long may it be so.