Genre: Death Metal
Review by Steve Jenkins
Decapitated are the sort of band that I get excited about when they release new music since they're a band that you don't always know what to expect, which is always interesting. So it's definitely safe to say that I was very keen to hear Anticult. Unlike a lot of people, I didn't have any problems with 'Blood Mantra', even though most fans didn't really think that highly of it when it was released in 2014. And I admit, when I first heard it, I gave it a few listens, then moved on and never really felt the want or need to hear it again. But, after a while, I gave it another chance and I found myself appreciating the album and getting right into it. Over time it really grew on me, and it's an important album in the evolution of Decapitated.
With their new album, Anticult, I was blown away from the very beginning. I see it as the band finally finding their own style and maturing to a certain stage of their career where they're so good at what they do. Decapitated are much further into their careers now, having formed in 1996, and yes, it’s like a completely different band since then. Gone are the speedy, death metal sections in favor of more rhythm driven guitar playing with a lot of groove. That’s not to say that this album doesn't have an abundance of great riffs on it, because it does, some of the best I've heard actually. It’s just that the style is so different it’s completely silly to even compare the old and new Decapitated. Anyway, onto the what really matters, the new album.
The album kicks off with 'Impulse' before launching into 'Deathvaluation', and I must say, this is exactly what I was wanting to hear. Nontraditional guitar work and excellent drumming create a rhythmic powerhouse. The production and sound on this album are worth noting. It’s pretty similar to Blood Mantra, but meatier and heavier sounding with thicker and angrier guitars. The vocals are nicely laid in the mix, which is a good thing, as I have no problems with Rasta's style, he fits the music perfectly. Someone like their original vocalist, Sauron, would not compliment this style of music nearly as well, but that's in the past. The drums and bass are nice and clear, nothing too exceptional or flashy here, just super dynamic and crystal clear throughout the entire album. They just do their jobs well and serve the songs the way they are meant to be served.
The track 'Kill The Cult' is an absolute monster. It just oozes greatness and much like their classic song 'Spheres Of Madness', it embodies that crushing guitar tone that makes you want to headbang forever. The band are in top form and at this point they’re just knocking it out of the park on this release. This is some seriously heavy and addictive song writing by the way, it's the sort of album that once you've finished listening, you want to press play straight away. I think a lot of that is due to the short length of Anticult, being just under 40 minutes long, there's no room on here for any boring filler or downtime.
'Earth Scar' sees Vogg taking an even more rhythmic approach to guitar playing here, but not in the Meshuggah sense really, though I could see how some people could find similarities, his leads on guitar are nothing short of masterful on this album and they're what ties this new and fresh Decapitated sound with their old sound. During the chorus, the vocals have a very Gojira-esque vibe and there's a certain tribal rhythm that you could mistake for Sepultura, this makes for a standout track.
What really kicked me in the face was 'One Eyed Nation', which is probably my favorite song on the album. The riffing is just masterfully crafted and punishingly aggressive, you can tell that a lot of work and care went into this song. Not just the riffs, but in the arrangement as well, which is what truly makes it shine.
Overall, what we have here is without a doubt one of the most impressive metal releases of the year. Decapitated sound like they're more comfortable than ever and somehow manage to grow and evolve without sounding any less heavy, perhaps even heavier. Anticult is exactly what I hoped to hear and this album is sure to turn into a classic in their already strong catalogue. The Polish metalheads have managed to bring a very modern and new sound to the table with stellar songwriting and structure that holds the record together better than anything you could imagine. Decapitated are back and they're stronger and better than ever, as they've delivered an album that just screams perfection.
10 out of 10 stars.
Anticult is out July 7th via Nuclear Blast Records.
Check out the video for 'Earth Scar' below: