For most bands, the death of a drummer and incapacitation of a singer would spell the end for them, but like Metallica after the death of Cliff Burton and Evile after the death of Mike Alexander, Decapitated have come back stronger than ever with a big “fuck you” attitude towards ol’ Grim himself. In 2007, the band were involved in a bus accident near the border of Russia and Belarus which left drummer and vocalist’s brother Vitek dead and lead singer Covan in a coma. The metal community was devastated at the loss of such a talented drummer; having been in the band since he was 15, he had recorded four excellent albums with the band, and marked Decapitated out as one of the premier death metal bands to come out of Poland with the likes of Behemoth and Vader.
Since the incident, only guitarist Vogg was left in the band. With Covan making sure signs of improvement but still not well enough to take back the mic, he hired a new troupe of musicians and recorded ‘Carnival Is Forever’. At first glance, the 8-song album doesn’t stand out as a standard death metal album, with the strange cover featuring someone that looks like they are in the band The Bunny The Bear, but once you press play it’s clear that Decapitated mean business.
Opener ‘The Knife’ is a brutal introduction, jumping straight into pounding drums and chugging guitars. New vocalist Rafal is by no means drowned out, and looks set to continue on until Covan is fit enough to rejoin the band. ‘United’ is the main promo track to come out of the album, and it’s obvious why. If played to a child, it would either make them quiver and cry or start threatening older kids with an ice lolly. In fact, the whole album would turn a Selena Gomez into an Angela Gossow.
Title-track ‘Carnival Is Forever’ and ‘Homo Sum’ start to bring a progressive touch to the album, creating a terrifying atmosphere dark enough to make Hitler search for his gummy bears. ‘404’‘s ferocity and pace would bring down the Great Wall of China. The other two tracks (excluding closer ‘Silence’) are by no means filler either; either one of them could be a lead single from the album if only the world wasn’t so terrified of death metal. And the closing track, well, it could be on a Mogwai album… if they were infected by zombies. An instrumental affair, it closes the album perfectly, leaving the listener gasping for more and checking behind their curtains for unwanted intruders.
A top death metal album that may well turn out to be one of the best of its genre this year.
Written by Martin Savage