"Carnival is Forever"

(Nuclear Blast)

01. The Knife
02. United
03. Carnival Is Forever
04. Homo Sum
05. 404
06. A View From A Hole
07. Pest
08. Silence

RATING: 8/10

This is the one many in the metal community have been eagerly anticipating. It is "Carnival is Forever", the new album from Poland's DECAPITATED, which arrives several years following the tragic death of drummer Witold "Vitek" Kieltyka (brother and sole original member Waclaw "Vogg" Kieltyka) and the serious head injury suffered by former vocalist Adrian "Covan" Kowanek. Pick your metaphor, but Waclaw fought through the adversity, revamped the lineup, and led the effort to record an album in "Carnival is Forever" that serves as a proud tribute to his fallen brother.

You may have heard the broader based, technical death metal direction in which DECAPITATED was headed on "Organic Hallucinosis", then left wondering not only about the content of the next album, but whether there would even be one. "Carnival is Forever" is for all intents and purposes the full realization of that broader-based, if not entirely unique, extreme metal approach. Specifically, that means a Polish death metal reinterpretation of PANTERA aggression and MESHUGGAH angularity. That new vocalist Rafal Piotrowski sports a mid-range barking style that falls somewhere between Phil Ansemlo and Burton C. Bell (FEAR FACTORY), and that Vogg borrows more than a few tricks from Dimebag Darrell (check out those harmonic screams during the solo in "404") has a lot to do with the Hellish Texas Cowboy comparisons. In what turns out to be an ace rhythm section, bassist Filip Halucha and Kerim "Krimh" Lechner deliver the rhythmic goods in the form of tight, acrobatic performances and some very colorful percussion that both contrasts and syncs up with all those gouging and biting Waclaw riffs. The collective result is a unit that moves in lockstep with lethal precision and unchecked aggression. Anything but an old school recording, the clinical production is fitting and Krimh's apparently un-triggered drumming is fantastic, both in terms of style and sound.

So it is no surprise that aside from a serene closing instrumental in "Silence", as well as an occasional reclaiming of pace control (sort of) and eerie instrumental sections (most notably on the super dynamic title track) the musical philosophy could be summed up as "shoot first and ask questions later". Though there is a distinct dearth of melody, there is much on which to focus attention with "Carnival is Forever", not the least of which includes a refreshing (and also PANTERA-esque) approach to creative soloing from Vogg that is supported only by bass and drums. That's all that is required to make the point with forceful purpose anyway, as you'll hear on cuts like "United" and "Homo Sum", the atmospheric soloing against jagged rhythm angles during the latter a must-hear. You may now breathe a sigh of relief, as "Carnival is Forever" is the sonic manifestation of an exciting new era for DECAPITATED. Welcome back.


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