Vader didn’t limp into their fifth decade of making music. The Polish death/thrash machine burst into 2020 with a barrage of guitar picking and blasting drums. Their new album, Solitude In Madness, the follow up to last year’s Thy Messenger EP, is a lesson in speed. The album is short and to the point, but still manages to make the occasional reference to traditional heavy metal. In the following interview, guitarist/vocalist Piotr “Peter” Wiwczarek discusses the making of Solitude In Madness, an album he feels is a return to earlier efforts such as Litany.
Darren Cowan: How are things in Poland? How has the coronavirus affected your life?
Piotr “Peter” Wiwczarek: The global situation made us do this, so we have to stay home to get better as soon as possible.
How has this affected touring? Did you have to postpone or cancel any tour dates?
Pretty much. The tour in the U.S. was the last one we did. We were supposed to have another one in Europe right after, but after five shows we were forced to get back home because the border was locked. All this shit happened touring Europe. Since all that we’ve had to be locked down in our houses waiting for the situation to get better. No other option.
Sounds like America.
Yes, I was watching the news and it’s really not good in the U.S. But like I said, this is a global situation and we just have to understand it. We have to cooperate and that discipline is the only way to kill the virus. It’s that kind of enemy. You have to stay home and the good thing is we have this tool called the internet. We will be separated, but we can still stay online and stay in touch with everybody. If we want to get back to our way of life, we have to let the virus die. We do that by avoid spreading it. Stay at home.
I saw you play Austin, Texas in February with Abysmal Dawn and others. How did the United States tour go?
We had three or four shows in Texas, so that was pretty good. The tour was good. We did not play in the U.S. for around three years. We started to cooperate with Continental Concerts, so it looked like it was a pretty good start, indeed. I like that. If I remember, we had 23 shows. We started in California and ended in California. We were the last band so we could do it until the end. I’m glad we did it.
Solitude In Madness will be released on May 1. Was there any talk about postponing the release due to the virus?
No, already delayed the album pretty much. The album was already delayed, so finally we had a chat with the Nuclear Blast guys and decided to stay with the release date of May 1st. We just released the first single. Tomorrow, there will be another one. We plan to release a third song right before the release date. Then we’ll see. We’re definitely not going to start touring with this album before fall starts. Our plan to is to start touring in September, but it’s hard to plan now. We have to wait to see what the situation is going to look like. In the meantime, I use the time to talk to the fans, to talk to the media like what we’re doing now, and to prepare everybody for the album. At least it’s not boring time. I’m at home with something to do.
Are you satisfied with the album?
Don’t ask me. This is just the next album in our history. The fans will decide. For us, it’s been like a new chapter because after 15 years of cooperating with Hertz Studios in Poland, this time we traveled to England, back to our roots where we recorded the first album many years ago. We spent four weeks in Grindstone Studio with Scott Atkins as the producer. This is what we have. The album definitely sounds different. It’s more clear, bright and sharp sounding. This was all about changing the producer. That is what we wanted. 15 years of trying to do something, but it’s really hard to run away from the routine when you work for so many years in the studio with the same guys, so it was about time for a change.
I think it was a good decision. We got back to the roots with the song structure. Songs on this album are different than The Empire, the previous one. We focus more on speed, so the songs are more short, rough and blasting. I wanted to get back to the Litany times, those speed times. That’s the main part, and I think the strongest point of the new album. It can be something different for new Vader fans, those who know us from the last releases, but for all those veterans that have followed us from the very beginning it’s a step back to the roots. The fans will decide, not me. I like the work. I like the change. This is what I can say from my side.
Do you have any favorite songs? If so, what makes these songs your favorites?
It’s hard for me to talk about favorites. I was working on the whole album, so I like all of them. Of course, let’s wait for the live act. Live shows are what makes favorite songs not so favorite. I definitely like those fast and short songs. That’s actually my type of metal as a fan of metal. We have to follow the tastes of the fans. If they ask to hear other songs, then we play the other songs. That’s how it works. We played just one song from that one, “Shock And Awe,” which was released as our first single. We even played that one in the U.S. on the last tour. The response has been pretty good already, so that’s promising. We’ll see. I can’t wait to play the whole album live, but that will take time.
You could play the whole album, and then..
Play another album. That’s the good thing about playing intense, fast songs. They’re short. The whole album is around thirty-minutes long just like many of those in the Vader discography.
Do you have any lyrical themes that run through the album or are all the songs separate ideas?
Yes, I really forced myself to put some different songs on the lineup and the album. There are three of them. One is “Emptiness.” It’s a song leftover from The Empire session. It’s one of those riffs I did not get time to release in the studio. We got the album completed, so that’s one of those riffs I left for the next releases. I used that one already on Thy Messenger EP that we recorded last year because the album was supposed to be delayed, it was delayed. I decided to use it still on the album because it’s a little bit different. It’s a little more heavy metal oriented. It’s kind of different, so it makes the album more interesting. It’s not just the one-style songs. The other one is “Dancing In The Slaughter House.” This song was just recorded for Acid Drinkers, which is a legendary rock/metal band in Poland. They were about to release a tribute album with friendly bands that were doing covers of Acid Drinkers. They asked us because we’ve been friends forever. We’ve played a lot of times in Poland. We decided to cover that one.
At first it was recorded for just this release, but after we saw the result, this song sounds like a typical thrash metal song from the ‘80s, so it’s a little different from the main core of the album. We decided to keep this on the album as well. And of course, there is the one we chose for the third single. It will be probably in around three weeks. It’s the last one on the album. Usually the last one we chose is a slower song, “Bones.” This is the slowest cut on the album. That’s why I chose this one for the third single. It’s definitely going to be one of those we play live. It’s a catchy song. I really hope the fans will like it too. These three, in my opinion, are exceptional on the album. The rest is more like “Shock And Awe,” which is the definition of the whole album. That’s why we chose it as the first single and the opening track as well.
What is the second song you’re releasing as a single?
“Into Oblivion,” that’s the one we’ve made the video for.
Tell us about making that video.
We did it in January. We were jamming before the American tour. We had a chat with the Nuclear Blast office and decided to release. We didn’t have much time to do that. We decided to go for an old school scene for that. We had just one day to release that. We were cooperating with Grupa 13, who are very professional. They did a lot of great clips for Behemoth and Kreator, so they know what’s up. They made something that is different compared to the older releases. It’s better to see it than explain in words. It’s the band playing. It’s not a story about something. It’s about blasting and lights around some extraordinary background.
How did you come up with the album title?
That came pretty late. I had some options before to name the album. I was more than halfway through the recording session in the studio and I found this one probably after I was working with the “Bones” song. There was one line from the song that I chose the title for the album. I just like that one. It spoke to the situation to where I like to give a title with a lot of place for interpretation for the listeners. It speaks to the cover art as well. I decided to just choose this as the album title.
Vader started as a speed/heavy metal band. Who were some of the bands you listened to when you started?
I started with Black Sabbath, but when we founded Vader somewhere between ’82 and ’83 we were into bands like Priest, Motörhead, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Accept — speed metal and NWOBHM bands. That was extreme for us. We wanted to play stronger and stronger and then Slayer came out with Show No Mercy. That was like a storm. That changed everything. It changed the definition of extremity. That influenced a lot of bands, also Vader, so since then we started to play faster. I think they changed the whole definition of metal for that generation. We were among those guys who started the extreme metal underground in Poland. The middle eighties were totally different times. The passion was high so no problems could stop us. Without professional instruments, with nothing actually, we started the scene, we started to play. We started to trade tapes with the rest of the world. We started just Vader and what we call the metal scene now. It was a long way and a hard beginning, but the passion is what got us through those times.
I hear a lot of Slayer in your sound. You even cover Slayer.
We’ve covered a lot of bands. They were just a huge influence. All of those classic metal bands are like classic music like Bach or Beethoven. We sought to bring back life for new generations, we were just later. We just kept the fire, the spirit all the time. I just like that idea. Jamming with covers binds together the bands of a scene. It’s all about that. That’s the main idea. We like to play covers. We like to record covers sometimes, but we got our own sound, our own songs now so we can focus on Vader. People expect that from us. So with huge respect to the icon bands like Slayer, Kreator, Possessed, we just continue to work. Now, it’s good to know Vader can be influential on young bands. We were like those they started with. That’s nice.
What’s next for Vader?
We plan to visit the U.S. in January 2021 with the new album. I really believe the situation will be cleared up by then.
(interview published April 30, 2020)