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With “Revelations” Polish death metal institution Vader reached a comfortable state of familiarity with its new style and procured a stable working relationship with Metal Blade Records. The album follows the template from “Litany” to a fault, but is more groovy and less overbearing in terms of percussion. It is the first album to feature bass guitarist Konrad ‘Simon’ Karchut, while also having more keyboard flourishes on one track with ‘Revelation Of Black Moses’. The album was promoted with a video for the track ‘Epitaph’, which coincidentally was the working title for the album when it was cut. “Revelations” is Vader’s most popular album, and unfortunately the last full length to feature long-time drummer and co-songwriter Krzysztof ‘Doc’ Raczkowski who would bow out due to a serious injury after laying down sessions for this album’s follow-up EP.

19186“Revelations” is a lot more straightforward, and thrashy compared to the releases directly preceding it. Nobody can deny the level of energy and enthusiasm that Vader put into each of its releases. There are minor instances of Wiwczarek’s continuing his spoken and narrative bits, but these are surrounded by his usual hoarse bark. There are several solos in each of the tracks. Generally speaking there are about two, sometimes three solo breaks per song with a recognizable hook for each. ‘When Darkness Calls’ is the only song to be more complex than the other cuts. In all it is more reminiscent of something of “The Ultimate Incantation” but written within the band’s current creative paradigm. For that reason it stands out compared to the other tracks which are more straightforward and don’t have nearly as much of a buildup. For the most part “Revelations” is an album all about Raczkowski’s incredible finesse behind the kit as he truly delivers one of his best performances here. Whether he’s belting out fast thrash beats, crushing death metal blasts or grinding slow patterns – he truly was one of a kind.

The album is generally on the fast side, although there’s a greater emphasis on midtempo parts. Each track is cut up in several of these sections, and within each cut these slow sections are usually bookended by a blistering blast segment. ‘Revelation Of Black Moses’ is different in the sense that it is a slow crawling song from beginning to end. This was a curious experiment for Vader who had always had slower songs, but never truly midpaced or even slow ones. More than anything the greater focus and reliance on guitar leads/solos to carry the songs becomes clear here. Around this time bands all over the death metal scene were pledging to play more demanding and technical material. Vader does both things simultaneously, playing structurally simpler songs overall but each of these tracks is loaded with impressive technical playing. The band has lost none of its dynamic sensibilities, and a number of songs truly excel at this. Above all Vader is consistent, more than anyone else probably. No matter what is popular at the time, this band will always play some variation of its established Slayer-meets-Morbid Angel brand of thrashing death metal. “Revelations” is no different.

All lyrics were written by Łukasz Szurmińsk, except ‘The Nomad’, ‘Lukewarm Race’ and ‘Revelation Of Black Moses’ by Pawel Frelik. There are guest vocals by Nergal (from then-emerging black/death metal hopefuls Behemoth) on the track ‘Whisper’.  Liner notes this time around are rather sparse, and rather succinct compared to earlier releases. The tradition of mentioning the band’s mantra ‘stay powerful, creative, joyous and free’ in the booklet is started here. Loosely conceptual, the “Revelations” album brought together lyrical observations on the 9/11 twin towers disaster. The band doesn’t go out of its way to push this particular concept to any degree. The lyrics do pay a greater focus to mob mentality, group-think and put a greater emphasis on religious references and iconography. Even without the lyrical baggage the record is a highly enjoyable barrage of populist thrashing death metal by one of the best in the genre.

The biggest strike against the record is that it is bland. There’s no real change in Vader’s formula in essence, but the writing comes off as tired and uninteresting. Even for Vader, whose very existence is based upon rabid intensity and punch, this record doesn’t do anything to forward the band’s profile. Each track is cut from the same format, and none of them sticks very long with the listener after they are over. This was something that earlier Vader releases had no problem achieving. The only real stand out tracks for this session appear to be ‘Whisper’ (most because of the sampled women moaning, and Nergal’s fiery guest vocals) and ‘Revelation Of Black Moses’ for being what amounts to Vader trying its hand at a very rudimentary form of doom metal. On the other hand, Vader in a creative rut is still better than a great deal of other bands in this genre at their supposed height. “Revelations” is no revelation for the genre, nor the band that produced it. It is a solid, but unremarkable album from a band that usually is better. Among the likes of populist death metal acts such as Bloodbath, Cannibal Corpse, Obituary or Six Feet Under – it is a breath of fresh air in a genre tired with its own sound.

It is one of the more vocal-oriented offerings of Vader’s brief tenure with Metal Blade Records. The duo of Piotr ‘Peter’ Wiwczarek and Krzysztof ‘Doc’ Raczkowski  returned to record at Red Studio in Gdańsk, Poland with producer Piotr Łukaszewski. As always Wiwczarek’s handled vocals and all string instruments, with Doc providing the drums. “Revelations” is about as bass-heavy as “Litany” and it is blessed with a more refined drum production. Even though this is the most bass-centric of Vader’s early catalog, the bass guitar lines are anything but interesting. Like so many of their contemporaries the duo insists on just doubling the guitar riffs to get that extra punch and heaviness. The album is paced a lot better than “Litany”, even though this would be the second album in a row where Vader simplified its sound for more immediate accessibility. “Revelations” despite its enhancements in production and presentation is the least impressive of the early Vader catalogue. It would take the band one more album to regain its composure.

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Years of hard work and extensive touring paid off for Vader in the early 2000s as they were offered a recording contract by Metal Blade, the label that released the early records of Slayer, one of the band’s most audible inspirations. After proving to be the most reliable underground force with their preceding three albums, Polish combo Vader was offered the luxury of a real recording budget and increased visibility due to Metal Blade’s stronger promotional branch. This resulted in three full lengths, and a number of EPs. “Litany” is the first to have a recording budget worth mentioning, and as such it was the first truly professional sounding product the band was able to put on the market.

One of the major ailments of the band’s previous records are corrected here as “Litany” has the most beefed up and professional production Vader had ever experienced. This record possesses a level of crunch, bass-heaviness and clarity that immediately makes one forget that this was only the band’s fourth album. Vader was rising out of the underground, and this was their first steppingstone into the mainstream metal consciousness. Together with the increased production values also comes a more hook-oriented approach to the songwriting. Despite its artificially loud production “Litany” is actually far simpler and less complex compared to this band’s earlier output. The band still plays incredibly fast and groovy with tons of screaming solos, but the songs no longer twist and turn with the same level of density as they did before. In a similar fashion the somewhat shoddy artwork, design and lay-out have improved immensely compared to “Black To the Blind”, “De Profundis” and “The Ultimate Incantation”. In all one could say that with “Litany” Vader had finally reached the status of being a professional recording - and touring band at this point in their already prolific career.

Complaints were filed that the previous album sounded too bare bones, and it only takes the opening kickdrum salvo of ‘Wings’ to ensure that this isn’t the case with this album. In fact you could argue that “Litany” takes things to the other end of the spectrum. The kickdrums (and the drum production in general) here border on techno or industrial territory, as they are incredibly overbearing and loud. The whole drum production is drenched in a cold, mechanical sound that borders on the artificial yet retains just enough of a human touch as to not go completely sterile and lifeless. All string instruments sound far meatier and concrete compared to earlier efforts, but those were never particularly faulty to begin with. The increased levels of mid range and burly bass tones make this easily the most bottom-end heavy Vader release thus far. All Vader albums to follow would more or less take this as a template in terms of production and work around whatever new technology was available at the time to enhance it further. Thankfully none of Vader’s intensity or spirit was lost due to the pristine production values. Both Wiwczarek and Raczkowski deliver fireworks at their instruments with their usual amount of enthusiasm, gusto and fire. It is incredible that just two people could produce an album with this level of sheer professionalism, passion and spirit.

“Litany” is the second Vader release to feature artwork by Polish digital artist Jacek Wiśniewski, and this was probably the release that brought his work to the attention of bands and fans on a wider scale than ever before. Much like rising stars Behemoth and Nile were doing at the time Vader also provides liner notes detailing the meaning of each of the songs. It would be the last recording to feature long-time bass guitarist Leszek ‘Shambo’ Rakowski. It was at this juncture that Vader crossed the Atlantic and took on establishing a footing on American soil. Although they would return to the New World at regular intervals Europe was still their mainbase of operations. Vader already had played Japan by this point, but now their live assault would truly become global in scope. The band’s most notable undertakings on the live front in support of this album arguably being the “Death Across America” tour and the “No Mercy” tour in Europe. “Litany” was the band’s breakthrough record, even though it came at the expense of somewhat simplifying its style and making it accessible as a whole. It retained the same visceral intensity and wall-to-wall aggression that made the band rightly famous. It is the first of three albums that would see the band opt for this slight change in sound, but it paid off dividents in the long run. Thanks to these albums many would cling to Vader. Piotr ‘Peter’ Wiwczarek would also busy himself with producing the debut album “Winds Of Creation” by country mates Decapitated, who were taking the scene by storm.

Pawel Frelik wrote all the lyrics once again, except ‘Cold Demons’ and ‘Forwards to Die!!!’ were written by Wiwczarek whereas the lyrics for re-recorded early classic ‘The Final Massacre’ were written by Pawel Wasilewski. A promotional video was shot for ‘Cold Demons’, but it wouldn’t be until the next album “Revelations” ere that Vader had promo videos worth seeing. The album clocks in just over thirty minutes making it a minute or two longer than the preceding “Black To the Blind”. While making one’s music more readily accessible to a wider audience is usually equated to selling out, Vader made sensible (and understandable) compromises for its new employer. It isn’t as if Vader suddenly made 180° stylistic turnabout, hardly so. Metal Blade - for all the good things you can say about them in terms of distribution, marketing and promotion – signs bands who they know will promote themselves and push the projected units. Vader understood this, and wrote albums during their tenure with them that fit this mentality and business plan. It could be argued that Vader albums from this point onward become interchangeable (which would be true), but they were merely looking out for their business interests. Still they did it more admirably than most, and more subtly than you’d usually expect from a metal band. Vader never lost their edge, soul or integrity.

Recorded at Red Studio in Gdańsk, Poland with producer Adam Toczko “Litany” was the heaviest, cleanest and arguably, loudest Vader album up to that point. As per usual it was the duo of Piotr ‘Peter’ Wiwczarek and Krzysztof ‘Doc’ Raczkowski (drums) who laid down all instruments in the studio. Piotr ‘Peter’ Wiwczarek shared production duties once again in what had now become the established practice for Vader. It also was their most professional looking as they had improved in leaps and bounds on the visual front. Being the first in the band’s second, more readily accessible era “Litany” is brief but enjoyable foray into percussive death/thrash metal that is high on energy and spirit while staying groovy and memorable through out. It isn’t the best Vader album, but it is custodian to a number of live staples. As one of the first truly easy to find Vader albums, it is a more than commendable debut for its new label imprint. From this point on Vader locked in its songwriting and would produce efforts that would make lesser bands blush, all while performing numerous shows on both continents – like they did before, but now with increased visibility and more opportunities for all involved.