Vader – Empire (Nuclear Blast)

Genre: Death Metal

Vader have nothing to prove. They’re death metal royalty, a band forged from their early struggles in Communist Poland, who went on to create some of the most evocative, brilliantly written and downright crushing death metal Europe has ever seen.

Yet founder Piotr Wiwczarek is still determined to ensure that his outfit lives up to its legacy – and Empire proves Vader are still a force to be reckoned with.

Given what we heard on the recent Iron Times EP, the thrashed-up assault of their 11th album comes as no real surprise: Iron Reign and Prayer to the God of War especially are fierce bursts of heads-down, infectious violence, which see Vader taking the best of 80s Euro-thrash and covering it with armour plating.

Angels of Steel – another highlight – is perhaps a little too brief, given the strength of its mutant riffery, however No Gravity makes up for that with more than four minutes of classic Vader: few acts have as good a grasp of death metal dynamics as this quartet, and their deft tempo changes, artillery barrage rhythms and scintillating guitarwork should be mandatory listening for any upstarts out there.

OK, so there’s no standout anthem here, no This Is The War or Helleluyah (God Is Dead), but Empire packs a weighty punch… and is a worthy addition to the Vader canon.

 RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Imperial Majesty