We caught up with music legend Burton C. Bell (ex Fear Factory) of Ascension of the Watchers for a new podcast, to chat all about his new album Apocrypha (Dissonance Productions). We chatted about the history of the band, the lead up to making this new album, Burton’s songwriting process, how he derives inspiration from film scores and soundtracks, his bandmates Jayce Lewis and John Bechdel (Ministry, Prong), the spiritual side to his lyrics and themes he writes from, the concept of “modern analog” and how it influenced the recording, memories of the late Paul Raven (Killing Joke/Prong), some thoughts on other projects like City of Fire and G/Z/R, and much more. Order the album here, and check out our chat.
Vader have always upheld a mantra of consistency through their career. Though not as storied as countrymen Behemoth or Decapitated (having closely aligned themselves with the latter act even sharing the odd member), Piotr Wiwczarek has still turned out tried and tested death metal which is neither blackened nor augmented with overt technicality.
‘Triumph Of Death’ has an immediate chorus but something about the bands contentment in playing to the old school death metal fan rather than producing anything particularly challenging makes parts of this album feel somewhat safe. A crisp production allows for each instrument to be present in the mix with Piotr’s characteristic gritty bark helping give the songs more character, but this is an album of peaks and troughs. ‘Tibi Et Igni’ retains the feel of early nineties Slayer or Sepultura with the addition of symphonic textures to add variation. ‘Hexenkessel’ is an improvement; menacing riffs anchored by a sturdy backbeat of blasts and a blur of fast tremolo in the scything verse.
Certainly the more cinematic aspects of Tibi Et Igni (Nuclear Blast) raise the bar. Employing new aspects like spoken word sections and the odd classical intro, adds new depth to a couple of tracks, but aside from that It is the stick to your guns approach Vader have long favoured. ‘Light Reaper’ is clearly Vader by numbers and while none of the line-up sans Wiwczarek himself joined the group before 2009 you get a sense of “business as usual” throughout much of this release. ‘Armada on Fire’ is the benchmark of the album, churning guitars and a middle section which should drive moshpits into frenzied chaos, yet it only highlights how several of the tracks here are merely solid as opposed to outstanding.
Piotr has kept the song-writing tight and concise while adhering rigidly to the blueprint Vader was built upon and the heads down approach to old school thrash injected death metal has marked Vader out as a reliable workhorse of the genre famed for their consistency, but likewise it has been this attitude which has seen some of their peers leapfrog them in the notoriety stakes.