I think it’s safe to say that Decapitated is among the more respected bands in the death metal scene. Any self-respecting death metalhead knows the name well and probably follows their career as well. And they’ve actually been on the scene for quite some time. So much so that they’ve gone down the route that many bands do where their signature sounds morph and change from album to album. This has definitely alienated some fans who only long for those older sounds, but the band doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. Anticult is Decapitated’s latest release, and it might be set to alienate even more fans than before.
Truth be told, I actually have really liked the direction that the band has taken in the last few albums. Any metal subgenre can be a little difficult to innovate the subgenre or even from a signature band sound. Death metal bands tend to shift from their sound by perhaps introducing melodies, or ambiance, or by focusing more on heavy riffs rather than frantic double picking. And if you were following Decapitated when they released a few singles ahead of Anticult’s release, you might have noticed some of these aforementioned things pop up slightly. “Earth Scar”, while still very fast and heavy, definitely has a good focus on the melodic side of things. And much can be said about their other released single, “Never”, which is even slower than “Earth Scar”.
After listening to the album, I find these choices for pre-release singles rather puzzling. Those songs don’t necessarily reflect the entirety of Anticult, but perhaps the band was trying to say something about which songs they liked the most. Or maybe I’m just reading too much into it. But let’s face some facts here, it’s not like Decapitated has fully reimagined their sound, or have changed super drastically. Decapitated has never been a straight-up death metal band like the likes of Cannibal Corpse, they’ve always done it their own way. And if that’s why you liked Decapitated in the first place, then you’re going to like Anticult for sure.
“Impulse” is the first track which opens up to lots of ambient guitars while other guitars and drums build to a really huge opening riff. In my opinion, “Impulse” is a very good summation of the sound of Anticult. It plays around with different tempos and time changes so that it’s hardly boring, and keeps you wanting to listen to hear what new developments will occur. The next two tracks, “Deathvaluation” and “Kill The Cult” follow similarly in that fashion. And it’s worth noting this sort of song structure isn’t new from the band either. We do eventually run back into “Earth Scar” and “Never”, which aren’t bad songs whatsoever, but I suppose I can hear why people would have some hang-ups over them. I don’t think they make the album any weaker, quite the opposite, I think it provides variety and contrast. I think that is really important to have in a death metal album, as many other albums tend to just be heavy on top of heavy, which really can get boring after not too long.
Anticult continues Decapitated’s roll of evolving their sound little by little, album to album. If you’ve been a little apprehensive of their evolution, I would still suggest giving this album a shot again, or just getting over it. All good bands change somewhat in between albums, and their change has definitely not been super dramatic. And Anticult is definitely Decapitated doing what they do best. It’s another solid album in their discography and definitely deserves a listen or several.