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Decapitated - "Blood Mantra" (CD)

Decapitated - "Blood Mantra" CD cover image

"Blood Mantra" track listing:

1. Exiled In Flesh
2. The Blasphemous Psalm To The Dummy God Creation
3. Veins
4. Blood Mantra
5. Nest
6. Instinct
7. Blindness
8. Red Sun

Reviewed by on September 12, 2014

"There's just enough of everything – the technicality, the brutality, the atmosphere – to make “Blood Mantra” significantly different from what's been heard in the death metal realm so far this year..."

A more well-rounded release than might be expected from the Polish metal squadron, Decapitated's “Blood Mantra” is death metal through and through, but it flirts with a range of sub-genres within that overall style. Surprisingly, the “tech” part is actually more subdued here, as the album isn't insanely technical and showy like something from Obscura or Blotted Science, but there's definitely a technical edge to many of the tracks. There's just enough of everything – the technicality, the brutality, the atmosphere – to make “Blood Mantra” significantly different from what's been heard in the death metal realm so far this year, while still holding a familiar vibe that fans will dig.

There's a bit of an identity crisis on the first three tracks (and that's not necessarily a band thing at all if you like an album to be eclectic). “Exiled In Flash” is about as Behemoth as it gets without actually having a Nergal appearance. “Veins,” meanwhile, has more of a groove metal or industrial feel to it and is much less of a straight up death metal experience than the opening track, and while this might sound strange, parts of the song actually give off an early Static-X vibe. By the time title track “Blood Mantra” rolls around, the album has hit its stride and is more focused, with slight changes in atmosphere occurring between songs to keep the disc from getting stale.

The production and sound quality tend to be a bit more on the hazy side, with less of a crystal clear and distinct tone than many tech-leaning bands go for. While this starts off as a potential negative, eventually the overall sound really sinks in and the music flows together well even while being crushingly heavy. Don't be surprised to look down at your playlist and realize you just made it through five songs, headbanging the whole time.

“Instinct” is where things start to get shaken up more, with loads of atmosphere married to technical guitar work. The song itself is a winner, although the lyrics come up a bit short. My promo didn't include a lyric sheet, but the repeating chorus sounds quite a bit like the vocalist is screaming “Fuck...fuck, fuck money. Fuck... fuck, fuck fame” over and over. While I can get behind the sentiment, the manner of expressing it perhaps leaves something to be desired. The album then ends with the fully atmospheric send off “Red Sun,” utilizing subdued guitar chords in the background of spacey, hallucinogenic sounds.

It can be difficult for a band to both try new things and still stay true to the sound that brought people into the fold in the first place, and Decapitated has succeeded at that here. The varied track lengths (2.5 minute songs find a place next to 5 and 7 minute tracks) work with the blistering, pummeling instrumentation that is tempered by atmospheric and melodic twists for a comprehensive look at all death metal has to offer.

Highs: Just enough tech to be interesting without getting overblown, and the atmosphere is top-notch.

Lows: The sound quality isn't crystal clear, "Blindness" is probably a bit longer than it needs to be, and some of the lyrics aren't exactly awe-inspiring.

Bottom line: Decapitated hits the right balance of differing styles within death metal for a well-rounded release you can get lost in, headbanging from beginning to end.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)