Vader - Black to the Blind (1997)
Oh look, it’s my penis and your mom; they’re discussing Vader! Let’s listen in:
THRASH JUNKIE’S PENIS: “Hey bitch, remember that one time Vader made something shitty?”
YOUR MOM (takes Thrash Junkie’s penis out of her gaping maw): “No.”
Well for once your mom is right because my penis was just being a dick (whut) and asked a trick question. Vader are one of those bands at the tip-top of the middle tier of metal groups: they don’t know quite how to be totally fucking amazing and indispensable but they sure as damn don’t know how to suck either. Find me a Vader album that isn’t either good or really good and I will find you a movie that I like that involves Ryan Gosling. Neither can be done.
So I figured I’d cover what is arguably the band’s highest point in their discography today: “BLACK TO THE FUCKEN BLIND, BITCH”. I’m sure the band will agree with me that that is actually the full, secret title.
Fucken love this album a lot. Of course I do. Vader knows just what Thrash Junkie wants. Tight-ass death metal riffs styled after messy thrash, insanely precise and memorable drumming, impeccable song structuring throughout, throaty Polish-tinged yells that perfectly bridge thrash and death vocal styles, and short, concise running times of both songs and the album as a whole. Giving me this album is like showing up to a middle-aged single white chick’s trailer with a box of Franzia and a Ryan Gosling DVD. It’s a direct hit.
So hello BTTB and your sexy, sexy riffage and never-flagging energy and songwriting. “Heading for Internal Darkness” kicks off with a drum fill and then one of those opening “RAAARRR!!”s that I love so much in 90’s Napalm Death and the like. Starting sections with “RARRR” and “UGH” works every. single. time. fuck. you. And Vader mainman Peter understands this. As well as other fantastic ways to do vocals in thrashy death metal. Well, just the one way I guess…he doesn’t have much of a range but with a voice this raw and intense he doesn’t need it. Killage throughout.
Drumming is fucken ace, as is the drum production. The kicks sound pummeling but not too thick and the snare isn’t overpowering or under-present. Doc serves up sexy thrashing, blasting, and grooving at exactly the right moments. There’s a mid-paced thrash break in “Fractal Light” that makes me destroy everything. Mid-paced skank beats are on my list of “Things I Unconditionally Adore” right next to the Rally’s Bacon Roadhouse burger and Hugh Jackman.
Guitars are nothing fucking mind-blowing but they have riffs riffs riffs. Great ones. Tremolo-picked ones à la Master. Chunky ones à la Kreator. Creepy but expansive ones à la Death. Main one of “Heading”, first fast one of “Carnal” (simple as it is), second one in “True Names”, every single one in the closing title track…these are the choicest of the choice but there’s others that will please your measly penis as well. I like the word “penis” quite a bit today.
“Carnal” is the best song in the penis world probably, with its infectious vocal-only verses that start out sounding mumbly and weird and you’re not sure if he’s gonna pull through them and redeem himself and then towards the end he raMPS UP HIS VOICE AND THEN JUST KILLS IT!!!! The song’s structure is tight, simple, and devastatingly effective.
As utterly satisfying as I find this kind of music, the album’s still not completely amazing. Towards the end of the middle of the disc (yes, the end of the middle), we get some tunes that are still technically excellent but don’t have the staying power of the best cuts. From “Beast Raping” through to “Distant Dream” we’re served up some very good tracks that don’t stick after they play. Totally fine, I still like ‘em a ton. I just probably would never throw one of them on at one of my strangely-poorly-attended?!?! death metal parties where I drink all alone and thrash around to bands such as this and wonder why no one else I invite ever shows up. Maybe I should invest in some broads to widen my parties’ appeal to the straight male audience. But then the chicks would just complain about the music ripping their bloody cunts apart and then do that thing where girls get drunk and then just cry. On second thought I hate bitches, fuck that I’ll party to Vader, Carcass, Decapitated, and Cryptopsy on my own then.
This is the type of album that’s nothing truly special and outstanding but always hits the spot for me. It’s like good cornbread and chili with a halfway decent beer. Pretty low-class and unpretentious if you wanna get technical, but it’s just my SHIT, you know? It’s just the kind of stuff I crave. And when it’s made this deliciously, precisely, and primal-ly, you fucken better bet I’m gonna eat up.
Listen to: “Carnal”