by Dave Fonseca
If you think Vader has perhaps sacrificed quality for quantity on their last few albums, here's an EP to pull you back into the fold. The Art of War is fifteen minutes of Vader punching at their absolute ideal weight and full of confidence. Complimenting their concise and potent attack is a production more complimentary than anything they've received throughout their entire career. As a reader of countless metal reviews, I've learned how difficult it is express how something so straight-forward and tested can still be so magnificent. It's like trying to explain the wonders of top sirloin and cold beer. You really can't. All I can really do is let everyone know is that Vader are definitely serving it up, and if you're not in the self deprivation business, you should check it out. To those who will ask "But what does it sound like," I say - It sounds like Vader. They write death metal that's informed by the genre's founders and project it through a modern lens. There's technical profiency, for sure, but it's a means and not an end. New Drummer Derek Brozowski is as competent a replacement for the recently passed Doc Rackzkowski as one could hope for. He's fast, but not a showman, as the real emphasis here is on the riff work. Again, nothing flashy, and really so workmanlike that it sometimes obscures just how clever it can be. The time changes in "This Is The War" and the nod to "Angel of Death" in "Death in Silence" are so assured in their simplicity as to make the technical arms race in death metal seem kind of irrelevant and silly. The production here is fantastic. Entirely modern, but not clinical or anti-septic. Instead of detaching the listener from the band, it totally intensifies their impact. That may seem like a given, but those who don't dig death metal's recent move towards sterility understand the negative impact of over-tweaking in the studio. Bottom Line: It's the best thing Vader's done since Revelations. It's a tried and true formula played with just enough distinction by a group of guys who love the form. It's only an EP, but if this type of metal appeals to you, then the Art of War is money well spent. For every one else, well, the crossover appeal here is pretty limited. This is death metal for death metal fans.