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Vader is one of the last bands one would expect to have a singles collection available. But sure enough, barely ten years after their career started they had a strong collection of death metal songs ready for release in Armageddon. Serving as a career retrospective, the album actually does a nice job of watching a generic death metal band slowly shape their own distinctive voice and style into a memorable act. Where many of Vader's thrash metal contemporaries began to lose their momentum after ten years, they took the opposite path and truly grew up during that time. Compare the relatively flat opener, "Dark Age" from The Ultimate Incantation, to "Reborn in Flames" from De Profundis. In the few years between these two albums, they went from a bland production style and overly shrieking vocals to a razor-sharp heaviness and dark, deep singing that compliments the music wonderfully. The live tracks from 1993's The Darkest Age may be the only true missteps; they are rather flat and messy sounding, and their cover of Slayer's "Hell Awaits" is the only thing that translates out of the sonic chaos. The tracks from Live in Japan do not fare much better, but the songs are a little bit stronger and the only appearance of their cover of "Black Sabbath" is the version from that album. But it really is incredible how much of this material is quite memorable and catchy despite the genre they are working with. The vicious roar of "Creatures of Light & Darkness" actually sticks around long after the song has been listened to. Now they have not crossed over into Backstreet Boys territory or anything, but most death metal escapes the brain much easier than Vader. Fans of the band will not find anything here that is not already available elsewhere, but for someone looking to get a good sample of what Vader is capable of, this is the album to start with.

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