by MythofRock

I always appreciated Decapitated; not only are they a significant chapter of the European death (their contribution is a universal standard), but also they’re among the bands that made me enter into the genre. I admit that I’d lost my preference for them after “Organic Hallucinosis”, since they chose to follow -to a great extent- Meshuggah’s steps (as many others did), thus losing something of their distinctive personality. Somehow, their music seemed rather uncertain amidst all the groove, making many of their fans longing for their first, technical death era.

However, Vogg worked patiently throughout the years, and after the absolute dullness of “Carnival Is Forever”, things started changing. In “Blood Mantra” (2014) the band’s ideas, looking concurrently to the past, became more balanced and seemed to work better, while in Anticult (2017) they had a specific shape. Hence, I consider that album as the most full-fledged, cohesive and mature work until now, indicating a clearer direction.

However, Decapitated proved that they were more persistent than we initially thought. After five difficult years, when they were wrongly accused of abduction and rape, and the occurrence of the pandemic, they return anew, releasing “Cancer Culture”, a more diverse album, with many interesting things for the listener and a fresh perception for their sound.  

Decapitated maintain the strong groove of the previous releases, without neglecting the technical aspect that showcases the musicians’ skillfulness (don’t expect the technicality level of the distant past, though!). Every track offers furious, sick riffing patterns (pay attention to the occasional blackening of the riffs!), hellish drumming behind the kit (blast-lovers will surely enjoy the listening) and extreme death growls, in accordance with the overall hate (Piotrowski’s performance is love-to-hear, more mature and intense than ever). Of course, all the above are properly highlighted by the crystal-clear sound that every such release should have.

The band structure the songs in a way that enables a more melodic orientation, thus achieving a modern form of death. Indeed, transitions to melodic parts add diversity, without altering the band’s aggressive DNA though (like in “Cancer Culture” or “No Cure”), while there’s enough space for lengthy, detailed solos (that wasn’t a focus point in “Anticult”). They don’t fear of experimenting; for instance, the crystal tranquility of “Hours as Battlegrounds” reaches the borders of post (it might seem weird/abnormal, but Universe217 came to my mind!), making an appropriate, whimsical match with the vigorous death element.

In “Cancer Culture” Decapitated collaborated with well-known artists, a step that allowed them to test themselves in new grounds and at the same time facilitated the access to a wider -than usual- audience (probably that was the reason of this move). In “Hello Death”, Tatiana Shmailyuk gives a different feeling with her clean vocals to a composition that combines Decapitated’s groove and Jinjer’s metalcore modernism. As for “Iconoclast”, it might not be as diverse as other tracks, but its straightforward galloping death rhythm and Robb Flynn’s participation make an excellent hit, full of addiction and ferocity.

Definitely, Decapitated are resurrected for the second time, making decisive moves. Once again, they emerge from the ashes of unlucky occurrences with full force; and this is respectable. “Cancer Culture” takes them one step further, aiming at an audience that prefer their death metal with a melodic/groovy touch. The band’s technical ability makes this transition easier; and this is evident. However, what’s even more important, is that they find their way in today’s genre. They may have delayed (considering their talent), but now they win. We welcome them back to the pack!

♦ 8/10

Alex Nikolaidis





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