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Vision and the Voice (2002)
This Vader is not in
any way affiliated with Darth Vader, Lucasfilm or any related entities. It's a Polish
death metal band with an admittedly silly name, but that shouldn't be held against them.
Vader isn't a top-tier act in the death metal world, but after nearly ten albums in
sixteen years, they've earned a sizable cult following, and in truth they deserve more
attention than they've received to date.
Death metal is a music which places heavy demands on both listener and
musician. The musicians must be technically proficient in order to execute the complex,
repetitive riffs and solos. There is no jamming or improvisation in death metal; pieces of
music must be performed perfectly every time. It's much more akin to classical music than
to the loose, party vibe of most rock.
There's no smiling in death metal. Unlike the relatively simple blues
chord progressions found in rock, death metal is based around staccato riffs which are
driven forward by relentless drumming, often featuring a double bass pedal for extreme
bottom-end rumbling. This is particularly true of the music as it exists now, as compared
with its late-1980s beginnings when it seemed more like a blend of traditional metal and
hardcore punk. The time signatures in which the music is played have grown exponentially
more complex, with many bands owing as much to the progressive rock of the early 1970s as
to the metal bands which preceded them.
Vader's music is explicitly derived from the work of their
contemporaries in the California band Slayer. Their riffs are extremely repetitive, almost mechanistic, but
their guitar solos are wild and seemingly out of control. (As explained above, though,
loss of control is an illusion. Death metal musicians have themselves and their
instruments under rigorous control at all times. Despite its brutal sound and violent
imagery, it's an almost ascetically disciplined form.) This guitar soloing style is in
fact third-generation, as Slayer's lead guitarist, Kerry King, admits having copped some
of his best licks from Black Flag leader Greg Ginn, who was cranking out similar, horribly
misshapen noisefests on the punk scene in the early 1980s.
Vader are not a particularly progressive band, but their music musters a
savage energy which more than makes up for any perceived lack of originality or
complexity. They pummel the listener into submission with volume, speed and, as mentioned,
a merciless drum assault. All death metal lyrics dwell on negativity, both human and
supernatural, and Vader's are no different. Their saving grace (no pun intended) is the
relative lack of poker-faced Satanism; again like Slayer, they prefer to rant about
earthly evils, dipping only occasionally into demonic imagery for extra spice.
More Vision And The Voice is a DVD expansion of a live concert
home video the band released in 1998, then simply titled Vision And The Voice.
Because of that, the main part of it does not contain any songs from their two most recent
albums, Litany (2000) and Revelation (2002). This is particularly unfortunate in the latter
case, as Revelation is one of the heaviest albums Vader's ever recorded and
possibly their best work. There are some newer songs to be found here, though, as the
original VHS program has been augmented with eight additional live tracks from 2001. The
disc also contains three videos for early songs, an interview with the band's vocalist,
and numerous other distractions (photo gallery, discography, etc.).
This is not a concert film meant to win new fans or convert skeptics.
It's intended for Vader's existing audience. It has none of the visual flair of, say, Stop Making Sense or The Last Waltz. That being said, it still manages to serve as a
reasonable introduction, for someone curious about death metal, to one of the music's
- Phil Freeman