Decapitated: Carnival is Forever

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Decapitated: Carnival is Forever
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Decapitated: Carnival is Forever
Groove Metal, Technical Death Metal
Nuclear Blast Records
July 12th, 2011
Release length: 42:33
Bebo
Decapitated
Myspace
Purevolume
Website
Decapitated is a band whose name is both inspiration, and sorrowful, both tales many fans of Metal know all too well at this point. This Polish Death Metal act started out back in 1996, and featured members still in their teens and even pre-teens, ranging from twelve years old to sixteen years old. The group’s drummer, Vitek, was perhaps the most inspirational of the group due to how impressive a technical drummer he was for being only twelve years old. However, at the same time, an accident on November 2nd, 2007 involved the band’s tour bus saw Covan seriously injured, and Vitek pass away. In a way, this struck many Metal fans in more then just a manner of losing a talented music. For myself, it reminded me how quickly life can be snuffed out, especially since Vitek was one year older then me at the time. Many questioned whether the band would go on, and if they did, how? Well, it’s been five years since the release of their last studio full-length, Organic Hallucinosis, and four years since the tragedy, and Decapitated bring us the fifth full-length recording Carnival is Forever, and while it seems close to their last offering, you can tell the music for this release has shifted quite a bit.

First of all, the line-up for Decapitated, obviously, is different. Vogg remains the staple founding member of the group on guitars, and is the only one returning this time around. Accompanying him is Heinrich on bass (Massachist, former UnSun) and Rafal Piotrwski on vocal duties (former Forgotten Souls, former Ketha). Krimh joins us as well to carry on where Vitek left off on drums (former Mondstille, former THorns of Ivy). With that line-up change, obviously Decapitated‘s sound is going to be different from previous albums as well, and it is. While Organic Hallucinosis really steered the band towards a much more technical Death Metal route, this album finds the group moving more towards a heavy Groove Metal foundation. The best way to put it is to say they have a mixture going that comes off like Meshuggah laced with Cryptopsy technicality and some Carnal Forge intensity. It’s not bad, but it’s still a bit of a departure from what they started out with, and what the last album even sounded like.

“The Knife” kicks off the album, and clocks in just over four and a half minutes. It sets up the album well by letting the listener know what to expect, and for the most part it does a good job. Much of the material on here shares the same kind of intensity that this track has, though this song has a stronger Groove presence in it’s technical performance then others do have. This, coupled with the screaming vocal approach similar to Carnal Forge, though not the most energetic and sometimes is pushed more through vocal distortion, such as with “United”. While the general technical intensity comes into play, it often feels like it’s chugging along with the Groove manner, and even held back at times, causing the track to feel like it’s going on forever though it’s only been maybe two minutes. While it’s not a bad song, it just starts to feel a little repetitive after a while and doesn’t really have anything too impressive going for it. Other tracks with this same kind of approach exist, but then you have songs like “United” that throw in some extra energy and amp things up a bit. Granted that happens later in the song when it seems to drop the Groove and Technical aspects and goes right for a more intense, faster paced Death Metal approach with solid riffs that catch the listener more with their commanding sound then the chugging technical elements before it.

Of all the tracks on this effort, the title track “Carnival is Forever” is perhaps the most intriguing of them all. The song has a lot more to it then just chugging Groovey riffs that cut into technical Death Metal chords. This track has an added atmosphere that exists primarily through the opening acoustic chords that give it a bit of a dark and desolate vibe, like being in a dustbowl with a traveling carnival or something along those lines. This established atmosphere gives the varying Groove and Technical Death Metal chords a little more impact to the listener, and the general vibe of that middle-of-nowhere dustbowl still remains in some of the tracks, especially when it picks up in intensity and speed at times. The music itself does feel restrained a bit throughout the song, though random moments of energy do seep through, especially with the vocals, and that’s kind of a good thing for this song given the desolate atmosphere of the track as it kind of leaves you in suspense through the song, waiting, which is exactly what that same atmospherical trait would be like emotionally. After a while it does seem to draw out a bit, especially given the random moment where the introductory acoustic guitars kick in, and the more ambient white noise closes out the album for quite a long period of time, but overall it becomes one of the more impressive tracks due to how well it all comes together.

The rest of the album varies between what is established on these three songs. “A View from a Hole” has some of the slower acoustic concepts thaty were established on “Carnival is Forever”, and it’s really catchy for the start of the song, though no real atmosphere is being generated from them. It feels beficial to the song too once it finally kicks in, and not like the band is trying to expand the length of the song by tacking on generic or pointless introductory chords. However, the only gripe here is that when the music kicks in, you really expect something to carry that catchiness instead of hammer in with a clashing heavier, more dream-like sound. This patch does feel out of place since the next section that follows actually feels like it fits that acoustic introduction a lot better. “404” has a heavier Groove presence to the music, and just a stronger, more dominating musical sound that feels a grabs the listener with it’s catchiness, though it’s pretty clear that’s a strong Sepultura influence to this track overall. Again, the song seems to go on forever even though you’ll only be maybe two, three minutes in, much like what happens with “The Knife”, but the track just has more energy and plenty of varying elements to it that can almost take on a more Progressive approach similar to “Carnivale is Forever” with the atmosphere that hits periodically through the track instead of right from the start, so in the long run you won’t at all mind that it feels like an eternity when it comes to a close. But even “The Knife” isn’t a terrible track and doesn’t necessarily feel like pulling teeth or that you’re suffering through it, it’s just not one of the most impressive tracks Decapitated has recorded, especially for this track. Of course, these are just a few of the stand out tracks of this release, and yes, there are a decent amount more that reside on this release.

Despite it’s odd title, Carnival is Forever is a strong album that departs from some of the band’s more traditional sounds, and does have plenty of strong moments to it. Sadly, the biggest drawback comes that it’s just not that unique, and not all the album shares the same energetic impact some songs have on here. Overall, Decapitated does it’s job well with the new members, and it’s pretty clear that these newly recruited musicians have some room to grow and expand their sound into a more unique experience. If you enjoyed Organic Hallucinosis, then Carnival is Forever will not let you down, but it probably won’t impress you any more then that album did either. But, overall, this does sound like a new Decapitated that is trying to still respect the sound the founding members initially had with it, as well as not come off as a carbon copy or idol worship act, and it does do a good job at executing all that. Carnival is Forever is well worth checking out, and is definitely an album that has some good replay value to it.

01. The Kniufe – 4:32
02. United – 5:24
03. Carnival is Forever – 8:49
04. Homo Sum – 4:33
05. 404 – 5:09
06. A View from a Hole – 6:11
07. Pest – 3:37
08. Silence – 4:18
Overall Score: 7.5/10
Decapitated (band)
Decapitated
Digital review copy of this release provided by Nuclear Blast Records.