VADER, Future of the Past (1996, Koch)
Now THAT is an evil, scary fucking skull. It looks to be maybe a long dead bride, her veil decayed to tatters. Vader’s art is usually terrible, which makes this one all the more extraordinary. It’s a beautiful, sinister painting that’s pretty much snark-proof, and I really can’t think of anything bad to say about it. There’s a first time for everything, I guess!
I bought the first Vader album when it came out, but that was getting to the end of my “everything on Earache is awesome” phase, and the album didn’t do much for me. I would hear more Vader from time to time, particularly when I was writing the zine, but it still never grabbed me, and honestly I didn’t even know this album existed. Why they felt the need to release a full-length covers album with only two original albums under their belt is a bit of a mystery, but there you go. It’s kind of quaint how on-the-nose the list of songs is, with Sodom, Kreator, Possessed, Celtic Frost, and Terrorizer, Slayer, Dark Angel and Black Sabbath, and then a few obligatory oddities, namely tunes by Anti-Nowhere League (whom Sodom themselves also covered) and every death metal band’s favorite synthpop band, Depeche Mode. It was them or Ultravox, I guess. Today, any band making an album like this would be falling over themselves trying to out-underground everyone else, and the tracklist would be demo and single tracks from bands you never heard of. And that would be okay, because at least the covers, when they’re played this plainly and without much interpretation, might open a window to new avenues of musical exploration. But, everyone’s already heard “Outbreak of Evil” and “Silent Scream” and no one’s discovering anything new from this album. Vader’s versions of these songs are as you’d expect: more or less straight renditions, played with Vader’s usual precision, and in general a little faster. There’s something lost, though, when you play early Sodom and Kreator with too much competence, so those tracks suffer accordingly from Vader’s skill. The Depeche Mode tune (“I Feel You”) has a moany industrial vibe and is fairly bad. It was wise of the band to not follow this path any further. There’s a version of the disc with KAT cover, and it would have been cool to hear Vader paying tribute to their countrymen, but I couldn’t find that track, sadly. Anyway, for a death metal covers album, Future of the Past is pretty good. Better than a lot of Vader albums, at least, but really no more essential.
— Friar Johnsen