Review Summary: Everything you need to hear from Vader, refined and collated into one punishing album.
At the tender age of 11, some 9 years ago, XXV graced my ears as the first death metal album I heard in full. Whilst I was to discover classics like Altars of Madness and Pierced From Within not long after, Vader's re-recordings album has pretty much stayed as one of the few modern death metal releases I wholeheartedly enjoy.
Vader's core strength has always been the almost absurdly polished technical abilities behind the songs, which blast through technical drum patterns and riffs with pretty much no fault ever and rarely relent. The riffs are textbook death metal, with particular emphasis on fast tremolo picking through thrashy drum lines and perhaps fewer (yet just enough) slower chugging riffs thrown in.
Material from The Ultimate Incantation up to The Beast is featured here, all recorded by the Wiesławscy brothers who worked on Impressions In Blood. As a result, the polished production tends to heavily change a lot of the earlier tracks. Most notable is Reborn In Flames
, a track that previously felt a bit sparse on De Profundis but is now simultaneously savage in its intensity and supplemented by symphonic elements that add depth to the track without drowning out the present components. Much of the Litany material is likewise uplifted, with highlights Xeper
gaining a lot of listen-ability thanks to the departure of the overpowering kick drum sound present on that album. A few tracks are a bit weaker due to the new production, like Carnal
, which loses a bit of punch, and The Crucified Ones
, which feels somewhat less energetic with the smoother guitar tone, but generally the polish benefits the album more than it hinders it.
Ultimately the biggest strength of XXV is simply that it is essentially a compilation of the best Vader songs given new life. Vicious Circle
and Silent Empire
are simply destructive, cycling through the best riffs in the business at lightning speed. Final Massacre
is redone yet again here as well, and is another highlight with its catchy trilling riff. Even the slower tracks like Dark Transmission
are strong here, emboldened by the new production. As ever with any Vader release, the problem lies in the songwriting variety, which is absent as usual, but the songs themselves are the cream of the band's crop.
If you ever want an introduction to Vader, this is the album to pick. The scope of the material is wide, the quality is near flawless, and the new production bolsters tracks that are considerably weaker than on earlier albums. It's not going to satisfy those looking for slower, more cavernous death metal, but if you're looking for some of the very best "generic" death metal made after the 90s, look no further.