Polish Death Metal juggernauts, Decapitated, are back on the scene and this time they’ve upp-ed their game. Blood Mantra is the band’s sixth full-length studio album, the first to feature the bands new blast-beating machine, Michal Lysejko and they’ve never sounded better! The album highlights Decapitated’s ever-evolving sound and it’s 39 minutes of deeply rooted vehemence. It’s death-fucking-metal at its finest, breaking boundaries by combining elements of Doom, Stoner Rock, Grindcore along with awesome grooves and intricate melodies.
Being an ardent Death Metal – and also Decapitated fan for many years, it’s both easy, yet incredibly difficult to write this review. The band have changed a lot over the years, and since the unfortunate tour-bus accident many fans and critics alike have had mixed feelings over the bands recent releases. Carnival is Forever marked a new chapter for the band and if that release didn’t make it clear enough, then now is the time to accept that this is not the same Decapitated that smashed their way into the death metal scene with Winds of Creation. It’s now more advanced and powerful. Decapitated still deliver thunderous, cranial assault moments but also offer us groove as well as blended genre elements, which all result in this fantastic release…(as proven by the ungodly amount of times I’ve spent listening to Blood Mantra this past week!).
The opening track, “Exiled in Flesh” kicks off with fast, catchy riffs and a steady simple drumbeat; becoming progressively heavier and faster, with chunky, groove-infused riffs and solid, precise drumbeats. Rafal’s raspy vocals, which sound incredibly similar to Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe’ (back in the late 90’s, early 2000’s), fit the sound perfectly. When combined with the merciless drumming of Michal along with Pawel’s deep bass work, it creates a dark groove to Vogg’s technical-death riffs which really gets that head nodding – like that damn Churchill dog, except on Speed.
Decapitated manage to create a perfect mixture of everything that’s great about death metal and never let the brutality stand in the way of rhythm and melody. While some songs have more focus on speed, technical, almost modern metal/thrash riffs and pure unrestrained fury, (“The Blasphemous Psalm To The Dummy God Creation” and “Veins”), which would be sure to send the pits into a chaotic frenzy. Other songs have more emphasis on groovy riffage (“Blood Mantra”, “Nest” and “Instinct”) and these for me, are the stand-out tracks of Blood Mantra.
The title track “Blood Mantra” sets about with a rock-orientated intro, that is until the drums and bass kick in, and then all hell breaks loose. The guttural vocals, crushing yet catchy high tempo rhythmic riffs make for some merciless death metal. “Nest” hauls us back to 2006’s release, Organic Hallucinosis. The song embraces its tech-death origins, with chunky, technical riffs that add a real groove to the track, while the high – precision drumming intensifies the depth to the sound and accompanies the heavy riffs incredibly well. Intricate solo’s heighten the softer layers to the tech-death sound and, yet again, it’s another song that will keep that head banging. Similarly, “Instinct” displays the technical ability in musicianship, combining heavy rhythmic riffs and delicate melodies, whilst throwing out ferocious solos, miles of face-mashing drumming and groove ridden bass lines.
“Blindness” leads us away from the fast paced, technical death-metal path with its slow, dark and somewhat Stoner-rock/Doom tone and style, (and sounds like something Entombed A.D. would produce). Nevertheless, Lysejko’s rhythmic assault to the ears never stops during the track. It’s almost like the guy is one of those Killbots from Futurama, (constantly firing rounds of ammunition), but designed to beat the hell out of a drum kit.
This track really emphasises the genre diversity on Decapitated’s latest album and it also brings the album to an end… but a really good end. Why do I say this song brings a good end to the album and not “Red Sun”? Well….because it’s three minutes and two seconds of eerie, ambient… noise, which gives you a little over three minutes to recover from the previous seven pulverising, whiplashing tracks.
Modern, clean and perfectly composed production means this album is executed in a way that leaves this reviewer with absolutely nothing to complain about. The guitars and vocals are more prominent and the bass and drums have a solid and precise sound, without having that over-calculated and over-produced backdrop. Blood Mantra is sure to be one of the best releases to hit the death metal scene this year. Not only welcomed by fans (adding to their Decapitated collection) but also as the perfect introduction for new listeners.
Released 26th September via Nuclear Blast
1. Exiled in Flesh
2. The Blasphemous Psalm To The Dummy God Creation
4. Blood Mantra
8. Red Sun
Waclaw “Vogg” Kieltyka – Guitars
Rafal “Rasta” Piotrowski – Vocals
Michal Lysejko – Drums
Pawel Pasek – Bass