26 September 2014
by Pete Long
When guitarist Vogg resurrected Decapitated following the tragic road accident in 2007 that shattered the band, he could have chosen to keep doing the same things that had made Decapitated as big as they are. The 2011 release of Carnival is Forever was definitely not the result of such a decision. Blood Mantra is another step down that path, away from the sounds of traditional death metal.
‘Exiled In Flesh’ opens the album with a tremolo riff, eventually joined by the blastbeats. It’s the mix of these black metal elements and a more modern, rhythmic sound (that might be compared to Meshuggah) that makes up the majority of this album. The technicality is as impressive as ever with Decapitated, with new drummer Michał Łysejko fitting in straight away. There’s also been a big improvement in vocalist Rasta’s growls. They’re deeper and more sustained and bring more brutality to the mix as a result.
Sadly, that isn’t enough to make it notably brutal, or notably anything much of the time. It’s not that they are writing bad music here, but memorable moments are surprisingly few and far between blander stretches. Songs have killer moments mixed in with the not-so-killer filler, like the groovy riffs at the end of ‘Nest’ or the already mentioned intro of ‘Exiled in Flesh’. When the bright parts outweigh the dull it sees Decapitated at their best, with tracks like ‘Blindness’ just keeping on building and building, with the many subtle flourishes ensuring its freshness. The variety between the styles is what sells the keepers, like ‘Veins’, where a prolonged melodic middle really sets the scene for the more simplistic and crushing ending.
It’s good to see bands that continue to innovate, but the point of innovation is to improve, and Decapitated haven’t really hit the mark here. Sure, some fans will still enjoy this, but Blood Mantra represents a missed opportunity. There is enough quality here to show that Decapitated still have it, but not enough to make this album a must-have.
Sounds Like: A bland take on modern technical metal
Standout Tracks: Blindness, Veins, Nest