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Since their founding in 1983, Vader (named for Star Wars’ dark lord, of course), Poland’s premier death metal band, have been through many lineup changes. Only founding vocalist/guitarist Piotr “Peter” Wiwczarek remains from the original incarnation. Along with the many personnel changes came musical evolution: Vader were founded as a power metal band who quickly embraced thrash, then speed metal, before embracing their ever-evolving, always-brutal brand of death metal. Perseverance was key: They toured Eastern Europe and issued only self-released outings for a decade — which included Morbid Reich, a cassette demo that sold some 10,000 copies and scored them a deal with Earache for their proper studio debut, 1994’s The Ultimate Incantation. After relentless touring and issues with the label, they went on their way, cutting and releasing records wherever they could. They signed to Metal Blade for 2000’s breakthrough Litany and remained there until moving over to Nuclear Blast for 2009’s Necropolis. 2016’s The Empire, issued 33 years after they formed, proved so successful that the band stayed out for two full years to support it globally. In 2020 the group issued their 16th long-player, Solitude in Madness.
Vader formed in 1983, toiling around the European death and thrash circuit while releasing demos into the metal tape-trading circuit. Their 1990 demo, Morbid Reich, became a huge hit in the underground, leading to a record deal with Earache in 1992. This made Vader the first death metal band from behind the Iron Curtain to sign a record deal outside of their native Poland. The same year, they released The Ultimate Incantation, a large success in the metal underground. They toured with Bolt Thrower , Grave , Deicide , and many other groups to bring their live performances to American audiences. They left Earache the next year and issued two more albums, Sothis (on Repulse Records ) and The Darkest Age: Live ’93 (on Baron Records ).
Vader tried to continue touring despite the declining popularity of death metal and the lack of a consistent recording contract. In 1995, they signed a deal with Impact Records, allowing them to maintain a regular album release schedule. Hammerheart Records issued their Necrolust and Morbid Reich demos on CD in 1998, as the band were enjoying their biggest success up to that point with the archival release Reborn in Chaos. They also recorded a live album, a mini-album (Kingdom), and a VHS video that year, and signed a new record deal with Metal Blade . By the time 1999 rolled around, the band were opening for Slayer and had their first headlining American tour.
In 2000, Vader released Litany and the Reign Forever World EP via Metal Blade , the former of which received a Fryderyk nomination. Arriving in 2002, the well-received Revelations also garnered a Fryderyk nomination, as did subsequent studio long-players like Impressions in Blood (2006), Necropolis (2009), and the Nuclear Blast -issued Welcome to the Morbid Reich (2011), the latter of which took home the award for Heavy Metal Album of the Year and charted in seven countries, including the United States. The Go to Hell EP preceded the release of the band’s tenth full-length outing, Tibi et Igni, which was followed in 2016 by the much-anticipated and aptly named Empire. During their two-year tour in support, Vader reconceived their debut long-player and cut The Ultimate Incantation to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their debut release. It was available only on tour, and its homemade packaging misspelled the titles of two tracks in the liner notes.
After a break, the band re-emerged in 2019 with the five-track EP Thy Messenger, followed by the full-length Solitude in Madness in 2020. ~ Bradley Torreano, Rovi
Merging brutal physical power with an unerringly precise attack, Decrepit Birth are a technical death metal band from Santa Cruz, California. The band’s story begins in the mid-’90s, when vocalist Bill Robinson met guitarist Matt Sotelo, and the two discovered they shared an ambition to create truly uncompromising music. In 2001, things got serious when Robinson and Sotelo teamed up with bassist Derek Boyer and began assembling material. By 2003, the band had developed a reputation for their striking live shows, and they released their debut album, … And Time Begins, with the three musicians joined by drummer Tim Yeung. Yeung didn’t last long with the group, and in 2004 K.C. Howard became their new drummer. After extensive touring, Sotelo began writing material that gave Decrepit Birth a more melodic sound without cutting back on their ferocity. The result was their second full-length album, 2008’s Diminishing Between Worlds. While Joel Horner was playing bass with the band by this time, he didn’t appear on the album, with Sotelo playing bass and keyboards as well as guitar. By Decrepit Birth’s standards, their next album was completed quickly, with Polarity released in 2010 by respected metal label Nuclear Blast ; the Robinson/Sotelo/Horner/Howard lineup was supplemented in the studio by guitarists Dan Eggers and Ty Oliver and drummer Lee Smith. By the end of 2010, Sam Paulicelli became the group’s new drummer, replacing KC Howard, and Sean Martinez took over from Horner on bass in 2013. While Decrepit Birth toured hard in support of Polarity, the group took a break after Sotelo became a father for the first time and wanted to stay home with his young son. However, he didn’t stop writing new songs while on paternity leave, and with Sotelo and Martinez recording in their respective home studios and Paulicelli cutting drum tracks at a studio in Canada, Decrepit Birth returned in 2017 with the album Axis Mundi. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
An uncompromising extreme metal trio from Brazil, Krisiun’s savage lyrics, punishing riffs, and unmitigated velocity helped make them one of the more punitive metal ensembles to emerge in the 1990s. Heavily influenced by bands like Slayer , Sodom , and Morbid Angel , the band employ a vicious, straight-ahead death metal style that was crystallized into pure fury on career-making outings like Apocalyptic Revelation (1998), Conquerors of Armageddon (2000), and The Great Execution (2011).
Hailing from Porto Alegre and taking their name from the lunar basin Mare Crisium (“sea of crisis”), the band was founded in 1990 by brothers Alex Camargo (bass, vocals), Moyses Kolesne (guitars), and Max Kolesne (drums) — Camargo uses his mother’s maiden name. A pair of demos (1991’s Evil Age and 1992’s Curse of the Evil One) and a self-released mini-album (1993’s Unmerciful Order) helped the band build a strong local following, resulting in a deal with small Brazilian label Dynamo , which put out the group’s merciless debut long player, Black Force Domain, in 1996. It was picked up for wider distribution by Gun Records , which also issued the group’s acclaimed sophomore effort, 1998’s Apocalyptic Revolution, the latter of which turned heads at major metal player Century Media , who scooped the band up and put out album number three, Conquerors of Armageddon, in early 2000. The label proved to be a loving home for the group, who were now taking their sonic onslaught across the globe, sharing stages with contemporaries like Vader , Belphegor , and Rotting Christ , and releasing a string of workmanlike, but undeniably brutal albums like Ageless Venomous (2001), Works of Carnage (2003), Bloodshed (2004), Assassination (2006), and Southern Storm (2008), the latter of which included a fiery cover of fellow countrymen Sepultura ‘s “Refuse/Resist.” 2011 saw the band issue their eight studio long player, the massively potent Great Execution, which garnered heavy praise from the extreme metal community, as did 2015’s more doom-leaden Forged in Fury. Clocking in at a taut 38 minutes, 2018’s Scourge of the Enthroned marked a return to the Gatling gun riffage and visceral attack of their debut. ~ James Christopher Monger, Rovi