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Decapitated Carnival Is Forever

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Decapitated - Carnival Is Forever
01. The Knife
02. United
03. Carnival Is Forever
04. Homo Sum
05. 404
06. A View From A Hole
07. Pest
08. Silence
2011 Nuclear Blast Records

OUR SCORE
8
Reviewed by: Brian Krasman   //   Published: 8/3/2011

Had Polish death metal band Decapitated never followed up their last full-length record, 2006's Organic Hallucinosis, chances are few would have questioned why. After a tragic bus accident in October 2007 near Russia claimed the life of drummer Witold "Vitek" Kieltyka and left vocalist Adrian "Covan" Kowanek physically disabled, it would have been understandable had guitarist Waclaw "Vogg" Kieltyka decided not to carry the Decapitated banner any further.

But quitting wasn't in the cards, and Vogg decided Decapitated's history had not been written in its entirely. With the loss of his brother surely still stinging him, he forged ahead, found new members in drummer Kerim "Krimh" Lechner and vocalist Rafa³ "Rasta" Piotrowski, and as a unit, they pumped out Carnival Is Forever, one of the most devastating albums in the band's discography. This is probably going to sound lame and clichéd, but whatever: You need to hear this record on a quality set of headphones or speakers, preferably played at a loud volume, to absorb the ferocity of this piece. This truly is a band reborn, and one that sounds like it has a hell of a lot more to accomplish.

There is a mountain of riffs here, and admittedly at first, it's a lot to digest. It initially sounds like too many ideas mashed together. But subsequent listens peeled away the layers and showed how all these guitar parts are interconnected and dependent on each other. It's technically astounding, but it also maintains a thrashy, meaty core that captures you the more you get to know the songs. Also, Lechner's drumming – and it's done live in the studio, no click tracks – is total demolition. He does more than well by Vitek, proving he plans to bring honor and prestige to the kit. I just can't get over how crushing his playing is, and I think it's my favorite aspect of the record. Piotrowski certainly holds up his end of the bargain as well, sometimes sounding like a hungrier, angrier, still-inspired Peter Dolving.

The eight cuts here certainly will make longtime Decapitated fans happy, but they also may spark some fires for fans of Meshuggah, old Sepultura and the Haunted's early years. From grindy, downtuned opener "The Knife," to the unforgiving slaughter of the title track (which runs nearly nine minutes and never feels too long), to monstrously heavy "Homo Sum" to the start-stop chugging of "Pest" (which reminds me a bit of Prong in spots), you're taking on an uncompromising, smashing, unbelievably heavy record from one of death metal's true survivors.

Certainly it hasn't been an easy road for Decapitated and Vogg especially. He carries a burden and grief that is unimaginable if you've never experienced such a loss. But he found his creative energy, found the right teammates, and blasted us once again, leaving the death metal scene in rubble and his band climbing toward the top of the heap.

Bottom Line: Even a bad album would have been a triumph for this band, but considering how great this record is, it has to be one of this year's most pleasant surprises. Decapitated's return is both welcome and a breath of fresh air for a genre that's certainly lost its edge over the years.

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