Vader - _The Beast_
(Metal Blade, 2004)
by: Jackie Smit (
Let's face facts here: a new Vader disc is no longer the event it used to be. Hark back to the days of _Black to the Blind_, and it was a different matter entirely. Like their heroes in Slayer, the band were clearly at the peak of their powers three albums into their career, and (as with Slayer) they have been riding a steadily declining creative slope ever since. But where their last effort, _Revelations_, was a lazy, misguided attempt, _The Beast_ actually kicks things back into gear for the Polish quartet somewhat. Similar in sound and style to their coup de grace, _De Profundis_, this is a record with a lot to prove in terms of the band's staying power and the continued legitimacy of their daunting reputation -- and it certainly launches an impressive attempt at doing so, with tracks like "Dark Transmission" and "Insomnia" presenting a welcome change from the blast/chug/blast formula of their last studio outings. Despite the uncharacteristically soothing opening to "Choices" and the quasi-epic "The Sea Came In At Last" however, _The Beast_ is simply not up to building the momentum necessary make this a bona fide return to form for the band. A fine example of traditional death metal without a shadow of a doubt -- but simply not in the same challenging league as bands like Behemoth and The Amenta.
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