Review: Decapitated – Anticult
Decapitated’s seventh studio outing is upon us. Is it memorable? Does it riff? Does it groove? Will it blend? Good news: I have the answers to most of these questions!
First off, I need to preface this review with a mandatory disclaimer: in my mind, there are few extreme metal albums that can so much as tangentially brush the awe-inspiring journey that is Decapitated’s fourth album, Organic Hallucinosis. The decidedly “weird” album within the band’s discography marks a separation between two takes on their sound: the straightforward, yet highly technical death metal of Winds of Creation, Nihility and The Negation, and the more groove and melody oriented sound of Carnival Is Forever and Blood Mantra. I find every single one of these albums to be enjoyable and mostly consistent, the exception being Blood Mantra’s notable overly-long song lengths and absence of Vogg’s truly great riffs.
With Anticult soon to be released, I guess the question to ask here is “What path are Decapitated going to take?” Stay on the one they’ve been on and going for a more, ahem, “commercial” sound? Do a 180º and write a Winds of Creation Mk. II? A middle ground, perhaps? At this point, someone concerned with the band “abandoning” their death metal roots in favor of more streamlined songwriting will have heard the two singles already released, hoping that somehow the remaining songs will sound “like old Decapitated, man”. Well… if that sounds like you, you’ve been majorly setting yourself up for disappointment.
Everyone else is in luck: Anticult is packed front to back with catchy, riffy bangers. Fret not, ye skeptics: the band is still called DECAPITATED. Streamlined structures and melodic progressions a pop album do not make, despite the number of people on the internet who’ll try to sell you that dumb notion. I’m happy to report that Vogg is still the Master of Riffing, wielding his pick with unhuman right-hand precision and groove. GROOVE. Oh, does this groove hard. At no point during the eight tracks did I find myself thinking “I wish I was banging my head more”, because I already was, ALL THE TIME. It doesn’t hurt that the mix is possibly the best I’ve heard this year with little room for competition, with perfectly complemented and audible guitars and bass along with natural, yet powerful and consistent drums.
A strong point in favor of Anticult is the inter-song diversity. It’s much more like Carnival Is Forever than Blood Mantra, in that each song is different from the previous one and instantly recognizeable while still sounding like Decapitated. From the classic Vogg start-stop tremolo and blastbeat riff on “Impulse” to the plodding of closer “Amen”, these eight songs show a band at the peak of their songwriting maturity. And yes, both the guitars and drums are sometimes more simplified than before, but I think it makes for a good change of pace.
All in all, while Decapitated haven’t crafted the defining album of their career, they’ve managed to make the incredibly high-quality recording that they’ve wanted to on their own terms, a record that will surely expose them to a greater audience and further their success. “Does that mean they’ll get played on the radio now?” A death metal band getting played on the radio would be incredible, don’t act like it wouldn’t. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see the change in the band’s direction to be about anything more than them doing what they feel like AND being able to make a decent living from it. If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, Decapitated’s first three records haven’t been magically overwritten by their new ones. If you think you’d enjoy this, come join me! I’m the dork in the back headbaning along to the massive groovy riffs.
4 Out ov 5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Anticult is out July 7th on Nuclear Blast. Pre-order the album here and tell me how absolutely garbage my taste is in the comments.