THEMADISRAELI’S TOP 15 OF 2011: “CARNIVAL IS FOREVER”, “WELCOME TO THE MORBID REICH”, AND “AGONY”
(TheMadIsraeli forges ahead with his mission of reviewing or re-reviewing the albums on his personal list of 2011’s 15 best releases.)
I’m departing from my originally planned two-at-a-time format because grouping these three together seems appropriate to me.
Decapitated went through some hard times. A van accident ended in the death of one of the most skilled drummers metal has ever seen and left their newly recruited vocalist in a coma (from which, to my knowledge, he still hasn’t recovered), and the remaining members seemingly left Vogg behind.
Who knows what caused Vogg to resist pronouncing the death of the band even though there was virtual silence from them for some time. But the even greater wonder is that Vogg was inspired to get back on the horse after not just being thrown off, but also being run over by a freight train along with the horse. Was it his way of coping? Was it just all he knew to do? Regardless of the answer, it seems that out of a morbid tragedy laden with death and destruction, Decapitated has finally come to form.
Sure, the old shit was good — even great at times — but I would still classify the music as high-caliber standard death metal. That was until Organic Hallucinosis came out. It turned Decapitated’s sound upside down and right-side up again and produced a unique take on death metal — more groove-heavy, more experimental, and most importantly, not afraid to take note of modern convention.
The people who had followed Decap since the beginning were mostly not pleased. There were accusations of selling out, abandoning true metal, swapping out Soren for Covan because Covan had a more core-ish vocal style. It’s a true shame that it wasn’t until after tragedy struck that this album seems to have received its rightfully deserved accolades.
Then the van accident occurred and Decapitated was basically demolished. Time passed, and then out of nowhere Vogg announced that Decapitated would rise again, that he’d rebuild it from scratch if he had to.
Enter Carnival Is Forever.
Finding new blood in drummer Kerim “Krimh” Lechner and vocalist Rafał Piotrowski, Vogg began crafting an opus that would both surpass and abandon the Decapitated of old. Maybe this is where his musical evolution would have always taken him, or maybe this was what he felt would be a most fitting tribute to his fallen brethren (and blood brother). Maybe he wanted to embody what his brother would’ve wanted for Decapitated: to move forward.
Completely abandoning almost any semblance of the old death metal sound, the new Decapitated attacks the listener with a much more visceral approach incorporating influences from Fear Factory, Meshuggah, Gojira, Divine Heresy, and even Nevermore. If the music would groove, it would also be massive. If the music would be fast, it would also eviscerate more than ever before. If the music would convey pain, anguish, hatred, or power, it would also wreck havoc on the earth itself. Everything had to be mechanical, cold, precise, existing in a state of perpetual nihilism yet embodying a matured sense of self-knowledge — a sense of completion.
Regardless of what you may think of Decapitated’s new direction, there is no doubt they now have an identifiable sound that sticks out from the metal landscape, if they already didn’t before. Whether it’s the bloodshot-eye-inducing howls and shrieks of Rafal’s vocal assaults, or the insane, next-level drumming of Krimh’s octopod attacks, or Vogg’s stone-grinding riffs, every aspect of this album is perfect. Every aspect of it is, in essence, what brutal, fast, groovy, pissed-off metal should sound like.
Utter fucking decimation. Isn’t that really all us metal heads look for?
Who always wanted an album that combined the frantic speed of Litany, the melodic deathrash leanings of The Beast, and the esoteric symphonic atmosphere of Impressions In Blood? I can’t say I ever thought of it, but, in hindsight . . .
It was a fucking awesome idea.
Vader is a band who are very dear to me — one of my favorite death metal bands of all time. Their impressive straddling of the line between death and thrash metal has always carried a sense of regality and imperialism that just strikes the right chord. Still, Welcome To The Morbid Reich is a bit of a surprise, just as Necropolis was.
I don’t think anybody anticipated the highly groove-oriented nature of Necropolis after XXV. There, we saw the band tinkering with old classics with newly added in symphonic elements, songs played at much faster speeds, and some pieces of the songs entirely re-interpreted. Welcome To The Morbid Reich is a surprise in the sense that, after Necropolis, Vader THEN decided to release the album people would have expected them to release after XXV.
Of course, as has become rather a signature characteristic of Vader’s evolution, Piotr doesn’t seem to care much about the consistency of Vader’s lineups. The man might as well be the Polish Schuldiner, he has had so many people in and out of the fold by now. Once again, we see a totally new lineup showcased on Morbid Reich. As a matter of fact, if you visit Vader’s Facebook page, Piotr lists himself as the only real member. Everyone else is labeled as a session member.
Quite a beast this album is. It has Vader’s trademark light-bending speed and abyss-opening groove in full force with plenty of killer riffs (as per the norm when it comes to Piotr). The members he recruited for this album are killer, as they usually are, especially the drummer (only identified as “Paul”). Piotr seems to know how to find only the best of the best of drummers.
Designated lead guitarist Spider brought in a very nice touch of melody to the soloing this time around. Piotr takes a back seat with his atonal insanity to make the solo’s more a period of musical breathing room and an occasion for stand-out moments rather than just another addition to the ongoing chaos. The riffs on this album, as stated, are killer.
In fact, every single moment on this album, for me anyway, is extremely memorable. But there is one definite highlight: “Decapitated Saints”. This might be the fastest metal song ever recorded; it sure feels that way.
This is Vader: It’s top-shelf. They are still bringing the supremacy after 20+ years. Few other bands can legitimately make that claim.
Brutal hyperspeed blast-laden death metal? Check. Fully inclusive orchestra? Check. Opera? Check. Turning the epic dial up to 11?
Fleshgod have been quickly making a name for themselves, rising quickly up the ranks to death metal prominence. Playing a style of death metal very similar in vein to early The Monolith Deathcult, they’ve been introducing classical elements more and more into their music. The EP Mafia showcased a definite shift in this direction. A shift toward neo-classical melodies, the introduction of operatic clean vocals into the mix, and the occasional string and synth moment here and there took an already brutal and proficient band and sent them on a collision course with maximized potential.
Agony achieved that maximized potential.
I would have loved to witness the band meetings during the creation of this album. I imagine it went something like this:
Band Member 1: “Hey guys, you know that brutal death metal shit we’ve been doing? What if we wrote more of that, but like, if that Wagner dude wrote it?”
Rest Of The Band: “Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude”
This album is three things: Brutal, ruthless, and over the top. If you ask me, that’s exactly what metal should be. This is, like, the Batman of death metal albums: epic, solemn, and dark.
This is going to be my least detailed recap because, really people, I still don’t know quite how to capture this thing in words. My review did a passable job, I guess? But not really. The music is kinda like . . . the universe folding itself in half, and continuing to fold itself in half until it has consumed itself and material existence has simply disappeared? I don’t fucking know. It’s brutal death metal with a full-time orchestra. I should’ve just said that and left it there.
You can check out my original reviews of these three stunning albums via these links:
Some music to remind you of all this badassery.
Hell yes skippy. I can’t wait to see Decapitated with Meshuggah the day after finals for college are done for me. XD
“Completely abandoning almost any semblance of the old death metal sound”.
I don’t buy this, and it seems to be a common consensus that is being referenced, seemingly by reviewers responding to other reviews…
I disagree entirely that they’ve abandoned anything. There’s a clear evolutionary thread binding ALL their albums together. Even going back to “Nihility”, and especially with “The Negation” and thereafter, they always had those jarring, piston-like rhythms, those weird, hanging guillotine chord chops, industrialised drum breaks… etc.
I can’t really see any elements on the new album that weren’t there, at least in embryonic form, from their earlier days. It’s definitely more complex and the formula has diversified, in fact it’s arguably more extreme and angular in terms of the harsh contortions and the sheer speed of it all now, but nothing has been lost or abandoned from their sound. I wonder if people would think it was “less death metal” if they still had a more typical growler as the vocalist, as I’d endeavour to suggest that the shift in vocal style has had an excessive influence on how people perceive the band.
I see what you are talking about and you’re right in that the succinct choppy riffs were always there, but I don’t hear anything that makes me think Decapitated of old in the album. “United” maybe sounds like something off “The Negation” but that’s about as close as I feel it ever gets.
I’d re-work the term to there were embryonic trace elements of what they do now in the previous material.
Oh goodness… All three of these albums… together? One shudders to think what that listening experience would be like.
WAIT! An even better idea for a playlist:
1 Carnival is Forever by Decapitated
2 Welcome to the Morbid Reich by Vader
3 Agony by Fleshgod Apocalypse
And then in reverse…