To call Vader’s Litany blindingly fast would be an on-mark assertion; however, to call it overwhelming — or, at the very worst, mere velocity — would only serve to undercut the band’s meticulous adherence to economic songcraft. Much like Brazilian kindred spirits Krisiun, Poland’s Vader eschew all the seemingly progressive benchmarks — overtly melodic contours, stark dynamics, studio embellishments, multitudinous riffs and time signatures — of modern death metal for the minimal-is-maximal approach that Morbid Angel laid down on their first platter, Altars Of Madness: blistering tempos on the farthest end of the warp-speed spectrum, buzzsaw riffs grinding away in kind, structures that never stray too far from a song’s original tenets, and, above all, a slay-everybody-in-30-minutes-or-less work ethic.
But seeing that Vader have been plying the death-metal trade almost as long as said band (Litany is the former’s third full-length studio record, but both formed in the mid-’80s), calling them rip-offs would not only be ignorant, it’d be downright ridiculous for various reasons, the first of which being the personal yet philosophical lyrics (which echo a near-Zen mysticism — obviously diametrically opposed to the latter’s devout Satanism), the second of which being the bass-heavy swell (the latter have been frequently criticized for not possessing much bottom end) to Vader’s attack, a rumbling ferocity commandeered by drummer Doc’s blastbeats, arguably the fastest and most powerful in the biz today.
The only mar on an otherwise-solid record is the near non-existence of guitar solos, and when they do rear their rickety heads, their duration is unacceptably short — a damn shame, considering guitarists Peter (also vocalist) and Mauser know how to disfigure notes just enough for them to remain an expressive element rather than an exercise in auto-eroticism. Still, Litany is guaranteed to be the most breathless brutality to be committed to plastic this year.
Metal Blade Records, 2828 Cochran St., Suite 302, Simi Valley, CA 93065-2793; http://www.metalblade.com