Ever since Poland’s DECAPITATED erupted onto the scene at the turn of the century with the timeless Winds Of Creation, the band have been championed as one the premier outfits in extreme music. Decades later and the band are poised once more to reaffirm their status with their long-awaited follow-up to 2017’s crushing Anticult; Cancer Culture. As DECAPITATED return, does this new offering continue to bolster their explosive discography?
Whereas Anticult shed the more technical bouts of guitar insanity found in their distinguished earlier work in favour of a more groove-laden battering, Cancer Culture sees DECAPITATED approach almost an amalgamation of both their modern era and their youthful days of yesteryear. Walking a tightrope between groovy stomps to technical marvels at the hands of band mastermind Wacław ‘Vogg’ Kiełtyka, this is very much a record that keeps you on your toes at every turn.
It all gets off to a flier as introductory number From The Nothingness With Love bleeds seamlessly into the title track and in a moment’s notice it becomes a cacophony of dazzling riffs, blistering drumming from new man behind the kit James Stewart and commanding vocal deliveries from vocalist Rafał ‘Rasta’ Piotrowski. As far as opening statements go, DECAPITATED have hit the ground running.
As the record continues to unfold, it becomes increasingly clear that the band haven’t lost an ounce of their adrenaline. Just A Cigarette is an all out musical whirlwind as the band refuse to take their foot off the gas, No Cure packs enough power to level a building, and album closer Last Supper provides one final exhilarating bout of death metal goodness, with an excellent solo to boot.
Despite a career spanning over two decades, it’s refreshing that after all this time DECAPITATED still possess the ability to surprise and haven’t lost the spark of their creativity. Largely, this comes in the form of JINJER‘s Tatiana Shmailyuk, who lends her angelic cleans to Hello Death and spars effectively with Rasta‘s gutturals, the inclusion of MACHINE HEAD‘s Robb Flynn‘s instantly recognisable vocals on Iconoclast, which adds an extra dimension to the song’s colossal soundscape, and Locked‘s snappy runtime of just over a minute which showcases DECAPITATED at their most vicious.
Where Nihility had jaws firmly planted on the floor with its extravagant technicality, Carnival Is Forever opted for a more atmospheric blend of death metal, and the aforementioned Anticult was an all out riff monster, Cancer Culture appears to borrow elements from every aspect of the band’s musical journey to date. Suicidal Space Programme boasts some mightily hefty riffage, the solo in Hello Death is as technical as it is aurally pleasant on the ears, and Hours As Battlegrounds feels like it has been lifted from the Carnival Is Forever-era with its moody atmospherics that swirl against the colossal riffs.
Whilst there will always be a pocket of the DECAPITATED faithful that yearn for a return to the days of Winds Of Creation, the simple truth is that the band today have moved past those incendiary early days. Cancer Culture stands as the the bold next step in one of death metal’s premier outfits. Confident, expansive and utterly aggressive, after all these years DECAPITATED remain one of the best bands to ever do it.
Cancer Culture is set for release on May 27th via Nuclear Blast Records.
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