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Decapitated The Negation

By Brian Davis, Contributor
Thursday, May 20, 2004 @ 11:33 PM


(Earache)

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Pop quiz: What band has completely changed the face of death metal, redefined the words brutal and technical, and is light years ahead of the pack, leading the way to a new dawn of metal mastery? If the name rolling off your tongue is anything other than Decapitated, you are dead wrong. This band is the future of death metal, and the future is fucking bright.

Not that there’s anything special about four kids, whose average age was 14, getting together at a music school in Krosno, Poland in 1996 to form one of the most influential and revolutionary death metal bands in music history. Nothing special at all --happens all the time. Kids will be kids, right? Only thing is, these aren’t kids. In the eyes of the metal scene, these guys are well versed, seasoned veterans throwing down such insane musical structure and aggressive madness that the genre’s real veterans just sit back and shake their heads in disbelief.

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With just 2 full-length albums to their credit, the guys in Decapitated come rolling back onto the scene in the wake of the release of one of the top 3 death metal albums of ALL TIME: Nihility. First off, if you don’t have Nihility, fucking get it, because you’re sadly missing out. In the wake of such an incredibly tight album, the pressure was on singer Sauron, guitar virtuoso Vogg, bass pounder Martin and drummer extraordinaire Vitek to take their already-evolved level of playing to an even higher mesa.

So the question is: did they succeed? How can you beat a perfect album like Nihility? The answer is, simply, you can’t. Decapitated are aware of that, and who wants to keep trying to recreate the same thing over and over? So they did the logical thing: they continued to evolve their sound, and in that they have definitely succeeded. Ever present are the insane time changes, the infectious, searing guitar riffs, the deafening bass lines and the stunning drum rhythms, creating in each song a living, breathing entity of sheer power, unrestrained aggression, and mind-boggling technicality. But now there is a new, more profound sense of power and wickedness, brought primarily to light in the evolution of Sauron’s vocals. More vicious than ever, the power with which he growls out the vocals with a possessed fervor adds an additional level of thick, wicked sound that serves to amplify the effect of the crisp and rolling guitars. And the guitars themselves have taken a new step, maintaining some of the infectiously unforgettable riffing that dominates Nihility, while incorporating an increased level of progression and structure that serves to blacken the already obsidian aura that is the band’s sound.

At the solid end of things, bassist Martin throws in more than his fair share of low end pounding madness, proving to be a dominant mainstay in the overall sound and feel of the album. And, as always, heir apparent to the death metal drumming throne, Vitek lays out crazy time change after furious beat with a supernatural ability that at times sounds more like a stampede of belligerent demons than anything that could be of this earth.

From the moment the scathing riffs of “The Fury” start pounding from your speakers, it’s immediately apparent that this will be far more than your typical journey through death metal soundscapes. The feel of imposing aggression and domination permeate the entire album, never relenting through to the very last note of “The Empty Throne.” And though the band has taken a step away from the sound of Nihility, that should in no way imply that the band has lost their edge. Still present are the hook-in-mouth guitar riffs that snag you unaware and reel you in through an ocean of writhing drum madness, monstrous vocals and wave after wave of complex and intricate song structuring. Layered throughout are plenty of juicy, superior guitar solos that serve as one of the many factors that make Decapitated the black cloud that hangs menacingly overhead, casting a grey shadow of untouchable proficiency over the rest of the genre.

It must be said that this album takes more listens to make its full impact on the listener. Some songs will grab you from the start and never let go, but the subtleties of some of the others, like “Sensual Sickness,” might take a bit longer to absorb. That isn’t to say the songs don’t hold up to the Decapitated level of excellence -- indeed, they’re every bit as worthy as their predecessors -- but the listener has to pay a little more attention to get a full grasp on each powerful song, but in the end that will only serve to leave the listener with a higher level of respect for the many layers of complexity incorporated into each song.

The bottom line is: Decapitated are single handedly changing the face of Death Metal. Three albums into their existence, at the ripe old age of 22, they have already established themselves as THE band to watch, and have set a determined and powerful stride that will only be matched by the best in the biz. Leading the pack at a full run with easily 20-30 years of music yet to come, it’s frightening to think just how far this band will evolve their sound and the scene itself. Any bands not at least trying to maintain the standard that Decapitated have set forth will find themselves staring into the empty eyes of oblivion, the eyes of their own Negation.

* * * * ½


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