Metal Review – Vader: Tibi Et Igni

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Metal Review – Vader: Tibi Et Igni
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Vader: Tibi Et Igni
Death Metal, Thrash Metal
Nuclear Blast Records
May 30th, 2014
Release length: 42:09
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Vader is easily one of the most important bands in Metal today, as well as in their home country. Not only are they consistantly named one of the biggest inspirations for bands in one or both of the Thrash Metal and Death Metal fields, but also contributed to setting the standard in which other groups from Poland are expected to meet, if not surpass. Since their debut album The Ultimate Incantation back in 1992, Vader has kept a fairly steady, recognizable, and highly influential sound throughout the years among many different small and large name record labels. In 2009 they signed with Nuclear Blast Records to issue Necropolis, which was followed in 2011 by their widely acclaimed Welcome to the Morbid Reich. For 2014, the legendary act returns with their twelfth full-length studio recording titled Tibi Et Igni, as well as the third for their most recent home. But does this new album stay the course, or does it give way to too many changes that spoil even the benchmark they themselves helped to create?

Tibi Et Igni starts things off with a rather interesting choice for a symphonic-based introduction for “Go to Hell.” Instead of setting that territory through Classical means, it ends up a rather ominous red flag that something is just not right. The piece doesn’t quite fit your expectations of Vader, nor does it really suit the album as a whole given that it sounds like it could easily replace any score from either of the Tim Burton Batman films. After a good minute and forty seconds it finally gives way to your standard faster paced Vader composition with minimal time to really accomplish much other than hit you with some creepy hooks and atmospheres, lay waste with an insane guitar solo (of which there are many to be found), as well as establish the slightly louder than normal vocals. “Abandon All Hope” ends up much like what hits after the rather long opening, just without said prelude. There is a simple short story that seems to be told here as well, but for the most part it’s similar faster paced material that could easily be classified as filler given how it literally follows the most traditional of Vader formulas. it isn’t too memorable, but it’s executed well enough to do a little more in comparison to “Go to Hell,” not to mention doesn’t leave you wanting to skip forward to the next.

Those symphonic pieces aren’t limited to just “Go to Hell” either. “Hexenkessel” has some very Dimmu Borgir style keyboards that reappear in certain passages throughout the song to keep the morose and downtrodden environment alive. While a solid mixture of catchy, hard hitting Thrash and Death Metal, there are some passages that seem to carry a hint of Pagan/Black Metal that accommodate the flow quite well. But between two minutes and fifty-six seconds to fifty-eight seconds the cymbals simply vanish no reason. While not detrimental it is easy to pick up on and is distracting before heading into the solid Hard Rock and Heavy Metal laced guitar solo shortly after. “The Eye of the Abyss” kicks off like an epic Lord of the Rings score but quickly shifts into Gothic Transylvanian stormy night that literally seems ripped off any Cradle of Filth album. It does, however, make a surprisingly nice build-up to the slower drum pattern at the start and additional choir effects behind the largely restrained guitars and even slow vocals throughout. Even some of the high tension passages like around three minutes and forty-five seconds in really make it hard to not get wrapped up in the song, making the little Lamb of God breakdown just past four minutes in an understandable ease of pent up stress that doesn’t really need to exist, but also doesn’t hurt anything by being there as it leads into the ominous passage and Neoclassical guitar solos that hit before and during the grand and epic conclusion.

“Where Angels Weep” ushers in more of the traditional Vader adrenaline of intense Death Metal soaked Thrash with hellish overtones in some bridges and an introduction that give way to deep tuning, blistering drums and blast beats. There are a few sections that slow things down momentarily, though these usually act like a small step to building up the guitar solo or slamming back into the blistering brutality that doesn’t always come with warning. But what really stands out is “The End.” It’s a brooding track that shifts into a marching rhythm that doesn’t last too long. There’s some sombre clean vocals that are a mix of spoken word and light harmonization for the main verses that compliment the slower, depressing music and gothic keyboards in the background that make you feel as though you are in the middle of attending a funeral. Even when the music becomes tighter, that emotional pull still exists, especially in the guitar solo. This and even “The Eye of the Abyss” is where the band’s change of direction or experimentation really comes together well and leaves you wanting to hear Vader explore it a little more.

But, sadly, not everything on Tibi Et Igni works out as well. Aside the aforementioned Batman score and dropped cymbals, there is plenty more that needs to be addressed. “Triumph of Death” has a pretty standard Slayer chug that sounds ripped right from “Angel of Death,” though the melodic bits with a mix of spoken word and light harmonization above the band’s signature rougher style works very well when used. Then there’s “Armada on Fire” and how the drums just clash with everything else. While the rhythm does seem similar, the pace they move at sounds like it’s ripped from another track that is kind of similar but not exact and just laying it atop everything else. There’s also some additional vocal effects that really do nothing to enhance what intensity exists, and the first guitar solo isn’t as stunning as the second. Finally “Worms of Eden” has a slow build with nightmarish riffs and cackling that builds for thirty seconds to what you expect to be a mighty explosion, or at the very least a literal audio sample of one, but instead just suddenly jerks to decent Vader riffs that in no way live up to that introductory hype. The same can be said for after it all hits again about two minutes in. This one does at least manage to tread into dark, Neoclassical realms akin to Vital Remains and even the ever twisted Macabre.

It’s easy to see the band is trying to do something a little different with their music this time around, and when they get it right it works perfectly to incorporate literal biblical atmospheres as you seem to dive deeper into Hell through misery and earthly loss. The problem is that there’s still the typical Vader sound that often makes no adjustments to accommodate this sudden change. Instead it’s like listenin to a band who took the best ideas of two different albums entirely and slapped them together before sending it out to be mastered, leaving us with a solid, yet incredibly confusing effort. It’s nice to see the band not just relying on their signature sound, even if it does result in something that seems like a conceptual mess. From the new listeners to the most devout of Vader fans, there’s still plenty to be excited over with Tibi Et Igni.

01. Go to Hell – 4:37
02. Where Angels Weep – 2:19
03. Armada on Fire – 3:51
04. Triumph of Death – 3:46
05. Hexenkessel – 5:29
06. Abandon All Hope – 2:23
07. Worms of Eden – 3:35
08. The Eye of the Abyss – 6:45
09. Light Reaper – 4:29
10. The End – 4:55
Initial Pressing Score: 7/10

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Digital review copy of this release provided by Nuclear Blast Records.