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Decapitated - "Carnival Is Forever" (CD)

Decapitated - "Carnival Is Forever" CD cover image

"Carnival Is Forever" track listing:

1. The Knife (4:34)
2. United (5:26)
3. Carnival Is Forever (8:51)
4. Homo Sum (4:35)
5. 404 (5:10)
6. A View From A Hole (6:13)
7. Pest (3:38)
8. Silence (4:18)

Reviewed by on July 6, 2011

"While it's only fair to judge the current Decapitated as a new band, they're an excellent new band."

With only lead guitarist Vogg remaining after a tragic bus accident, everyone knew that “Carnival is Forever” was going to sound different. The question was how much the new Decapitated sound would deviate. The answer is that “Carnival is Forever” is different, but retains much of what there is to love about Decapitated. The band is still fast, brutal and technical, with many of the same chugging guitar riffs that previous albums had. However, this is not the same Decapitated that fans once knew.

Decapitated 2.0 needs to be treated as an entirely different band, since name aside, it is one. I had serious doubts about Decapitated replacing Vitek and Martin before giving the new disc a listen. Thankfully, my skepticism was unfounded. While three of the four members are gone, the new group is every bit as capable as the old Decapitated was.

Vitek may have been a legend before his early death, but new drummer Krimh is still a worthy replacement. He’s capable of still playing much of the band's back catalog live, while also having his own identity and personality on new recordings. He's not as clinical as Vitek was, but much more energetic.

Heinrich – also of Vesania and formerly of UnSun – handles the bass, which is audible and plays along with the rest of the band surprisingly well, given that neither Vesania or UnSun is anywhere near as complex as Decapitated. He's still an incredible musician whose playing has gotten me to go back and listen to both bands, just to listen for Heinrich's bass.

Rafal Piotrowski is the most controversial new addition. In an age where anything -core is instinctively hated, Piotrowski's vocals will probably get many to turn off the new album within seconds. There was a time where a vocalist like Phil Anselmo or Mike DiSalvo could play in a metal band, but that era is over thanks to a number of abysmal -core bands that saturated metal in the latter half of the 2000’s. While “Carnival is Forever” will sadly be mislabeled as deathcore and dismissed by more closed-minded listeners, those willing to pay attention will be rewarded by hearing the best tech-death album of the year.

The best part about “Carnival is Forever” is that it's able to mix musicianship with catchiness. Most technical death metal bands struggle with hooks, but Decapitated makes it look easy. It's always good to hear a band known for virtuosity not only know how to play, but also write music. It's also great to know that Vogg hasn't become a lesser songwriter due to circumstance. The riffs flow well and have a good sense of groove to them, which death metal needs since it can't rely on choruses. Those looking to hear insane shredding will know that Vogg can still play a fantastic solo. “Carnival is Forever” is the tech-death album for people who normally can't get into the genre.

While it's only fair to judge the current Decapitated as a new band, they're an excellent new band. No, this isn't the same band from before, but “Carnival is Forever” shouldn't alienate that many old fans, while also bringing in a new fan base. While the core-phobics won't be able to get past the vocals, less judgmental listeners are in for a treat.

Highs: Great guitar solos, catchy yet technical, the new Decapitated seems every bit as competent as the old band

Lows: Hardcore vocals will lead many closed-minded listeners to dismiss the album without even giving it a chance, a few riffs stolen from other bands

Bottom line: A great first outing for the new line-up of the Polish death metal legends. It's different, but awesome.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 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)