Decapitated - 'Anticult'
Much has been made of the difference in both sonics and approach to songwriting between the first incarnation of Polish death metal legends Decapitated, and the groove metal oriented riff titans that we are blessed with in 2017. The sheer genius of Decapitated's early records are, of course, not even up for dispute. Melding tech and death metal with skin-flaying intensity, before disaster struck, Decapitated quickly became underground heroes and rightly so. Decapitated version 2.0 is, however, an altogether different beast, albeit one with a foot still somewhat planted in that earlier sound when it comes to smatterings of technical instrumentation. Following the release of Blood Mantra it became easy to brush off the regressive musings of those metal elitists; the type of people who seemingly always prefer a band's first EP, recorded in a garden shed and performed on pots and pans and a toy mandolin because "it sounds sooooo much more reaaaaaal bro". One listen to Anticult will demonstrate even further why such fools need to get in the bin. Forever.
There's a theory in music that when a band experiments with a new style on record, it's often at their second attempt when those experimentations really hit the right notes, if you'll pardon the expression. Logically, this makes sense as ideas will have had time to permeate, and musicians will themselves develop their playing styles, becoming increasingly familiar with the new approach to songwriting and/or musical direction. When comparing Blood Mantra and Anticult it is clear that the aforementioned concept certainly holds true: Anticult is the sound of band far more confident in the new version of themselves.
Simply put, Anticult should be every metal fan's dream. It is an album utterly packed to capacity with the kind of riffing that will have the listener resembling Woody Woodpecker, drum lines that, like a Pavlovian canine, cause the salival glands to unionise in order to demand overtime pay and vocal hooks so savage that a full packet of lozenges will be required to stop the burn. Resembling a combination of Sepultura, Pantera, Meshuggah and Lamb of God with a few extra blastbeats thrown in for good measure, Anticult hurtles along for 38 minutes with barely any stoppages in proceedings in which one could retrieve any belongings thrown around in a fit of riff-induced mania.
Impulse and Devaluation, at their paciest moments, are all choppy riffing played over Slayer drum tracks, whilst the latter also contains a guitar lick straight out of Mark Morton's playbook. Kill The Cult is a blistering assault, with Sepultura-inspired verses giving way to a heads-down, full throttle chorus that is designed to make beery individuals slam into one another. The snare pattern on One Eyed Nation is a delight, whilst the latter half of Anger Line, with the off-tempo guitar line backed by another discordant one would have sounded entirely at home on Meshuggah's classic album Nothing. The outstanding Earth Scar grips you by the throat and launches you into Sepultura's practice space as they tear through Roots... classic Spit, whilst the juxtaposition of the frenetic assault of Never's first half and its groove focused closing minutes serve as a perfect summary of the album's overall vibe.
If there is one small gripe, it is that the three-minute instrumental album closer Amen serves very little purpose and could have been replaced with an additional track to make this album completely free of any fat whatsoever. An additional note of praise, however, needs to be made in the direction of the album's running order; unlike Blood Mantra which veers between styles and can at times be jarring, Anticult flows perfectly resembling one entire song, much like Meshuggah's Catch Thirty-Three.
Anticult is an unrelenting metal album, one that manages to remain apocalyptically heavy but also retains accessibility, which is no mean feat at all. It is very hard to imagine that Decapitated will not move up the metal echelons as a result of Anticult, for it is a record that contains a gigantic scoop of everything that makes metal so bloody brilliant.