Vader are one of the longest running bands in the death metal scene. They are also one of the most dependable, with a wealth of top notch death metal mantras to be found throughout their back catalogue. Their previous two albums, 2011’s Welcome to the Morbid Reich and 2014’s Tibi et Igni were two of their strongest efforts, so expectations are high for their forthcoming effort, The Empire. Vader give us a brief taster with the four track Iron Times EP, containing two album tracks and two covers.
Both album tracks clock in at less than three minutes. “Parabellum” contains a dazzling riff that unwinds over a simple, driving beat that never lets up, with Piotr Wiwczarek’s bellows counteracted by some impressive guitar solos. “Prayer to the God of War” shows a little more restraint, with well constructed, if slightly generic, riffing and more splendid lead work. The guitar tone is a little too weak for my tastes, giving the riffs a thrashy edge but lacking the low end that allowed Vader to cultivate a more punishing sound in years gone by. Neither song reaches the heights seen on Vader’s previous two albums, but they nevertheless whet the appetite suitably and leave you wanting more.
The cover section is next up, kicking off with “Pięść I Stal” from Wiwczarek’s side project Panzer X. It possesses a kick ass, mid tempo groove tailor made for head banging, Wiwczarek’s mighty bark excelling in the anthemic refrain. A good choice and a nice change of pace after two slices of straight up death metal. The band closes things with their take on Motörhead classic “Overkill”. It is nice, crushing interpretation, but it’s a bit too clinical; it lacks the loose, rock n’ roll swagger that gave the original so much character. Wiwczarek also deviates from Lemmy’s subtle vocal mannerisms on occasion, opting for a more monotonous delivery. Whilst it is only a minute detail (and it is always good to see a cover differ from an original), the vocal lines are so ingrained into the song that you can’t help but feel like something is missing.
There’s nothing spectacular to be heard on this EP, but generally speaking it’s a solid release. The album tracks are just Vader being Vader, whilst the covers are good for a couple of spins at least. I’m sure fans will enjoy it, whilst casuals can be safe in the knowledge that they’re not missing out on anything remarkable if they choose to wait the few months until the full albums drops in November.
Rating: 3/5 – a solid EP from one of death metal’s most dependable bands