CD Review: Decapitated- Carnival is Forever
As someone who has seen Decapitated twice since their last release, once with Vitek and once without, I have been very eager to hear any new material. When I saw them at Summer Slaughter last year, I was so impressed with how Vogg's new team managed to pull things off that felt confident the next dose of original music would be very satisfying. On Carnival is Forever, Decapitated goes far beyond just lazily "adding another album" to their catalog. With a pummeling sense of urgency, Carnival riffs and blasts its way into your mind and leaves you both aching from the punishment and exhilarated by its sheer power.
Among Carnival's other distinguishing factors, one cannot help but notice Rafał's vocals and how they differ from Covan's on Organic Hallucinosis. Covan's robust, throaty vocals were much closer to that of Entombed's LG Petrov, while Rafał's have a much more raspy, almost sandy texture to them. (Call me crazy, but they almost resembled Randy Blythe's vocals from the Burn the Priest years) His vocal's are a fantastic fit for the band, so I would say that any judgement on them here would fall mostly to your preference. I'm sure there are plenty of people who would prefer to have Sauron back on the mic, even with the band's evolution since The Negation. It says something for Vogg's integrity that he did not simply find someone that sounded like Covan and opted to keep things fresh instead.
Stylistically, the album bears a strong resemblance to the previous one, but thankfully does this without sounding like Organic: Part Dwa. One very compelling element of the album is Decapitated's use of softer, eerie moments which set you off-balance before knocking you out with a sledgehammer of furious drumming and a rich feast of heavy riffs. Nowhere does Decapitated use this device more effectively than on Carnival's nearly 9-minute, 1000-ton title track.
Carnival boasts a dazzling mix technical-death riffs, buttressed with a handful of traditional death-metal volleys to go with the solos and more spacy, experimental sounds emitted from the amplifiers. In this respect, Vogg shows himself to be the true mastermind and driving force of the band's sound. At once he manages to bring some continuity from Organic, but still carries Decapitated to dark and exciting new territory. By way of numbers, the album probably contains twice the amount of different riffs and progressions as any other Decapitated album (imagine the memorization involved in practicing these songs!).
In reference to Decapitated's new drummer, "Krimh", I won't pretend to feign any expertise in drumming which I don't posses. All I will say is that he provides a powerful and fierce back-bone to Carnival's body of work with the limitless energy and stamina that the style demands. There are not a lot of stand-out moments for the drums here like on past albums (ex. Eternity Too Short from Nihility), but with a solid performance both live and on record, I think Decapitated has little to worry about with Krimh.
Despite the overwhelming variety of sounds present here, never once did I find myself bored or temped to change the song. There is most certainly no filler on this album. Some fans may argue that the quiet and reflective closer, Silence, is frivolous and unnecessary. In the case of most other Death Metal releases, I would be able to concede their point and probably even agree. But in this case I thought the track was well put together and if it stands as an elegy for Vitek, I find it to be a very fitting one. Other than the somewhat silly cover art, I can find almost nothing to quarrel with on Carnival. If anything, I'm just excited for Decapitated to be back in action and am hoping they will be for many years to come. (Hell, Vogg isn't even 30 yet!)
8 out of 10
Favorite tracks: The Knife, Carnival is Forever, 404, Pest