Friday, July 22, 2011

Decapitated - Carnival Is Forever

Carnival Is Forever
Nuclear Blast Records/Riot! Entertainment/Warner Music Australia

After the tragic bus accident in 2007 that claimed the life drummer Witold ‘Vitek’ Kieltyka and put vocalist Adrian ‘Covan’ Kowanek into a coma, few would have genuinely expected Waclaw ‘Vogg’ Kieltyka to ever resurrect the name Decapitated. But against expectations, Vogg reassembled a whole new line-up (Including ex-Forgotten Souls/Ketha vocalist Rafal Piotrowski, bassist Filip ‘Heinrich’ Hałucha and drummer Kerim ‘Krimh’ Lechner), and toured the world under the Decapitated banner in honour of his fallen band members.
Having spent the last couple of years re-establishing themselves as a live act, the Polish outfit have now taken things to the next level and recorded a new album in ‘Carnival Is Forever’ – which is the band’s first album of new material since 2006’s ‘Organic Hallucinosis’.
Given that the line-up that makes up Decapitated these days is an entirely new one (Bar Vogg of course), some slight changes in sound and direction is something that can be expected from ‘Carnival Is Forever’. And sure enough, this album does represent a shift in direction for the band – and it’s a change that some may take a little getting used to.
The opening track ‘The Knife’ is a blasting fast paced introduction to the newly reborn Decapitated, and it’s an intense, heavy and darker return of the band. Technically dense, and yet strangely groovy at times (In a Meshuggah kind of way), ‘The Knife’ sounds like a natural step forward from where the band were heading with their last album, but different enough to showcase a progression in their time away.
‘United’ and ‘404’ are definite stand out tracks with their intricate guitar work, huge melodic grooves, relentless drum structures and aggressive vocal applications, while the slower and epic title track ‘Carnival Is Forever’ uses  subtle atmospherics in the background to add a sinister feel to proceedings, fuelling the bludgeoning effect of the song as a whole.
‘Homo Sum’ is surprisingly straightforward for most of its construction, and sounds oddly wide open and different with the guitar solo primarily backed only by the sounds of drums and gentle atmospheric noises, while the haunting acoustic instrumental piece ‘Silence’ is a little unexpected as an album closer, and only goes to show the band’s willingness to experiment and push their sound beyond their established technical death metal sound of old.
Further emphasising the band’s experimentation with direction can be found within the rhythmically catchy pairing of ‘A View From A Hole’ and ‘Pest’.
Decapitated have always been forward thinkers in terms of death metal, especially with their last couple of releases. In that respect, ‘Carnival Is Forever’ really isn’t that different. But while many would expect ‘Carnival Is Forever’ to be something more than just another death metal album, the change of sound and direction Decapitated have taken on this album may take some fans by surprise.
As long as you have an open mind (And ear), and remember that this is an entirely new make up of Decapitated, you’ll understand that ‘Carnival Is Forever’ really is another step forward for the band.

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© Justin Donnelly