Sightseers taking in a light-and-water show this past August in Wroclaw, Poland, were intrigued by a nearby proceeding not listed on their tour itineraries: a full camera crew; costumed extras dressed as Roman centurions, peasants and apostles; and in the lead, while a wooden cross set-piece loomed behind him, the King of the Jews waiting for his cue. Spectators buzzed with the film-set excitement felt only by those unaccustomed to film sets. Anticipation mounted as lighting was adjusted and positions were taken; the crowd held their spots patiently as shooting began.
Most moved on with haste. Rather than an introduction to the climax of the New Testament or Mel Gibson's take on the same, what was in actuality being shot was "Never Say My Name," a music video by death-metal overlords Vader.
The video (on YouTube, along with the equally entertaining "Making of ..." clip) is the first from Necropolis, the band's latest release and first from new label Nuclear Blast. After more than 20 years of producing relentless black metal on both sides of the Iron Curtain, Vader has perfected the vocally ferocious, richly layered, blast-beat-infused sound that began with 1990's Morbid Reich cassette. Carrying the banner now is the current line-up of vocalist Piotr Wiwczarek, guitarist Wacław "Vogg" Kiełtyka (also of the recently reformed Decapitated), bassist Tomasz "Reyash" Rejek and drummer Paweł Jaroszewicz.
The Christ figure depicted in "Never Say My Name" does indeed heal the sick and blind, and (in keeping with the best metal traditions) does not shun a wayward woman; he is betrayed for silver and attends a Last Supper. But the Gospel According to Vader features a reluctant Messiah who's met the Devil, is seized during a Last Supper bloodbath and is hell-bent on avoiding the crown and the nail. Instead of the "no, no, I've got it" submissive who repeatedly takes a header under the weight of his own death prop, we get something closer to the temper-tantrum-prone self-righteous dude who went medieval all over the temple steps.
And just in time for the Christmas season, Vader comes to Pittsburgh as part of the Monsters of Death tour. Supplementing the bill are The Amenta, Decrepit Birth and Augury. Vader will headline, and its focus on war, darkness and the triumph of free will and independent religious thought should help counteract the onslaught of the pretense of good cheer, attempts to find salvation through material goods and really fucking stupid sweaters.
Monsters of Death tour feat. Vader, The Amenta, Augury, Decrepit Birth. 6:30 p.m. Sat., Dec. 12. Ches-A-Rena, 1216 Pittsburgh St., Cheswick. $17 ($20 day of show). All ages. 724-725-7625 or www.chesarenapgh.com