Carnival Is Forever
Nuclear Blast Records
15 July 2011
by Dan Pelic
The pimply-faced internet junkies who doubted the fruits of this reincarnation on the metal message boards are most likely going to be lauding this release and feverishly trying to delete their past postings. It’s just that fucking good.
Carnival Is Forever, the long-awaited, fifth full-length offering from Polish technical death metal masters, Decapitated, is burdened with the inevitable weight of expectation. If having a three-album-long streak of successful records to follow up is enough to get the critics ready to rip into, then imagine an album five years coming with a new lineup borne from tragedy.
When founding guitarist and brother of late drummer, Witold “Vitek” Kiełtyka, Wacław “Vogg” Kiełtyka, announced he would carry on with new musicians, some were ecstatic the torch would be passed and others decided to talk shit, saying to continue the band was blasphemy only to result in disappointment.
The Decapitated you know and love is still here but armed with better-developed grooves, atmosphere, and technicality, while continuing to explore musical spheres of madness (ooooof) where they have not been before. Narrow-minded death purists may scoff at this album for going in so many new directions, but most any appreciator of heavy music will get into this album. Many grew to love Decapitated for being innovators in the ever-stagnating genre of death metal, so it would be foolish to discredit them for being innovators within their own constructs on Carnival Is Forever.
On opening track, ‘The Knife’, an industrial-esque Ministry (really!) styled riff was the first attention grabbing novelty on the album. Seems a bit bizarre in this description, but fuck me in the face if I’m lying to you about how awesome it sounded when I first heard it.
Several tracks pay homage to some of Decapitated’s more “commercially” embraced influences such as Meshuggah, with their own take on the trio’s super jagged, technical guitars over syncopated drumbeats. We also hear a good deal of Pantera-inspired grooving.
A greater number of atmospheric riffs appear than on any other Decapitated record with Vogg tastefully stylizing the guitars with some gnarly sounding ambient effects.
Don’t get me wrong; Decapitated HAS NOT abandoned their obliterating speed. They certainly show they are still masters of that domain. Lots of death guitarists can become stupidly absurd and overly chaotic when confined by high-BPM tempos. Vogg, however, displays very mature note-by-note precision in riff composition. This album exhibits an extreme proficiency in shredding at high speed.
A great choice was made in Sweden’s Daniel Bergstrand (Behemoth, Meshuggah) to handle recording drums and mixing duties. The guitar tones are… beefy, the drums are extremely punchy and crisp without any triggering, and every element is impeccably blended.
What we hear most on Carnival… is the individual perseverance of Vogg and the collective success of those enlisted to make the first foray into producing new material from Decapitated. Carnival Is Forever blasts, grooves, twists, turns, and takes the time to breathe deeply without becoming obnoxious like so much technical death metal often gets while trying to push the envelope.
Sounds like: Vader, Behemoth, Cannibal Corpse, Meshuggah
Top tracks: United, Carnival Is Forever, Homo Sum, Pest
Decapitated – Carnival Is Forever tracklisting
Carnival Is Forever
A View From A Hole