Vader - _Impressions in Blood_
(Regain Records, 2006)
by: Jackie Smit (8 out of 10)
If _The Art of War_ served any purpose in 2005 beyond plugging time between full-lengths, it was to demonstrate to an increasingly forgetful underground community that there are still a number of reasons to sit up and take notice of a new Vader release. Let's face it: time hasn't been kind to the Polish quartet. _De Profundis_ remains their finest hour and their last two releases in particular have failed to catch so much as a sniff of its greatness. In the meantime, the death metal genre continues to evolve, while Vader's own progression as far back as 2002's _Revelations_ has been marginal at best.

So the good news is that _Impressions in Blood_ makes good on the promise demonstrated by last year's EP. The over-the-top opening instrumental, wafting far too much of the theme song to a fantasy role-playing game, may evoke a few cringes -- but once "Shadowfear" roars to life, Vader are all business. Playing against a noticeably speedier backdrop, the focus has turned back to bona fide riffing as opposed to the uninventive chug-a-minute style that had become increasingly commonplace on the band's last three records. On a few occasions, they even step outside their comfort zone, tossing Dimmu Borgir-like keyboards into the mix and pulling it off beautifully. Whether it helps make _Impressions in Blood_ as compelling as the band's coup de grace is another matter entirely. But if the question is whether this record is a clear indication of Vader being back on track? Absolutely.


(article published 5/10/2006)

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