Release date: July 12, 2011 (US), July 15, 2011 (EU)
Tragedy often begets creativity, and such is the case with Poland’s technical death metal legends, Decapitated. After four ground breaking albums beginning with 2000’s Winds Of Creation, when the band were still teenagers, and ending with 2006’s innovative Organic Hallucinosis, the band endured mass personal devastation in 2007. First bassist Marcin ‘Martin’ Rygiel left the band shortly before they hit the road for Russia. Then a bus accident while in Russia decimated Decapitated, taking the life of 23-year-old drummer Witold “Vitek” Kieltyka, and doing serious injury to singer Adrian ‘Coven’ Cowanek, who went into a coma. Only Vitek’s older brother and band guitarist Waclaw ‘Vogg’ Kieltyka was left to carry on or walk away.
Certainly no one would have blamed Vogg for ending the band’s legacy, but as the Decapitated’s creative force, he chose to honor his bandmates, and his brother by pressing onward. Four years after that tragic event, Vogg and Decapitated return with a darkly brilliant and annhilating fifth studio effort, Carnival Is Forever.
Vogg along with new bandmates, drummer Kerimh ‘Krimh’ Lechner (Thorns Of Ivy), vocalist Rafal Piotrowski (Ketha) and bassist Filip ‘Heinrich’ Halucha (Vesania, Masachist)spent much of 2010 on the road doing over 100 shows to help gel and solidify the line-up. All that touring paid off on the new record.
While the album title may not give any indication of what is to come, the album’s ominous and disturbing cover might. From the opening track, “The Knife”, any fears that Decapitated would be a mere shadow of its once mighty self are immediately dispelled. As one of the album’s strongest most pulverizing tracks, it should not be surprising the band chose this as the album opener. With its chunky grooves and technical breakdowns, “The Knife” is arguably the most similar to tha band’s classic style. While no one can replace Vitek’s apocalyptic genius behind the drum kit, Krimh more than stands his own, with precise, jackhammer, ball-crushing fury.
The ubiquitous venom and ferocity continue on “United” which unleashes a volley of blastbeats and rampaging riffage sure to incite riotous headbangers whiplash. You’ve been forewarned so beware the chiropractic bills.
The album’s title track is where the band ups the ante, dragging us into the demented surreality of the damned. The song comes in at just under nine minutes, and wraps tendrils of progressive atmosherics around a convulsing body of polyrhythmic riffage and auditory mayhem. In short, a dynamic sonic beast sweating with visceral nuance. This is the evolution of Decapitated, and the natural progression of where they were headed in 2006.
If it is possible for brutality to be eloquent in delivery, Decapitated have hit the mark here. The album is full of haunting aggression which is amply displayed on cuts like ”A View From a Hole” and ”Pest”. Just listening to the songs is excruciatingly self injurious, and only begs for repeated listening. We are rewarded with Vogg’s trademark minimalist solos, and all three new members bring a vicious dedication to bear on this record.
The instrumental closer, “Silence” puts a fittingly dark and ambient flourish to the ending of the whole affair, after which we collapse, drained yet gasping for more.
While there is not a bad track on the album, some have less to offer than others. While “Homo Sum” is rather ho hum (relative to the rest of the album), “404” just seems lost in the shuffle. Sort of a bump on the highway of hostility.
There is more growth and maturity on this album then on previous efforts, but this should not be surprising. Vogg has grown as a person and a songwriter. Life altering events tend to do that. Though Carnival Is Forever is not so far beyond the past as to be indistinct from its predecessors. In fact, the ephemeral spirit of the past will forever cling to the band’s future. Still, Vogg and his his new musical allies have not allowed that ghost of tragedy to suck them into a morass of mediocrity. Track by track the Carnival Is Forever gut-punches the listener with a corporeal ache of grief and rage, while standing defiant and determined to eviscerate.
Get prepared for sonic destruction and aural havoc. Decapitated is back. Let the beheading begin!