OneMetal music REVIEW: Decapitated – Blood Mantra


Decapitated1After the apparent false-start on the comeback trail with 2011’s Carnival is Forever, many may have wondered whether Poland’s Decapitated would make it back to the light following the horrific accident that left drummer Vitek dead and singer Covan in a coma. As someone who knows little of the band’s earlier career beyond their fearsome reputation, I am not qualified to judge whether they have recaptured former glories, but purely objectively, Blood Mantra is a belter by any measure.

Not that you’d be too confident if you only caught opener ‘Exiled in Flesh’; solid but frankly unremarkable death metal fare with little to distinguish it from a number of workman-like bands plying their trade right now.

Things crank up a notch with engagingly titled ‘The Blasphemous Psalm to the Dummy God Creation’, with its sustained attack, savage riffing and gloriously gnarly solo.

It’s on ‘Veins’ that the chemistry really starts working. Just as fire needs oxygen, the pockets where space is allowed in to the mix here give the infernal flames room to breathe. Coming on like Fear Factory if they’d followed more of a classic DM path, it mutates into a churning, swirling stream of molten lava. It’s also the first time that Rasta’s vocals really make an impression, barely controlled rage and commanding presence.

Similarly, a glimmer of melody throws the brutality of the title track into sharp relief, a welcome dose of dynamics that really reaps dividends. Weaving through dragging riffs and Pantera grooves, strands of light permeate the tormented depths, before a final minute of unbridled pummelling leaves the listener wounded, bloody and ready for more.

The band’s arsenal is impressive, from the incisive, precision riffing of ‘Nest’ to the Sepultura-esque percussive pounding of ‘Instinct’, but it’s ace-up-the-sleeve ‘Blindness’ which really comes out of left field.

The masterful way the quartet slowly build the tension would do credit to the greatest of thriller writers. The ebb and flow of the tracks carefully pile on the pressure, delicately-crafted layers amassing, the suspense becoming almost unbearable, until it’s hard to know if the decision not to purge in an eruption of catharsis is genius or insanity. It’s 7:38 of perfection, a distillation of what some bands have spent whole careers attempting to pull off.

All in all, it’s hard to fault Decapitated’s sixth studio offering. Sure, there are a couple of points where the slower segments begin to drag, not to mention pointless ambient instrumental closer ‘Red Sun,’ but to fresh ears at least it’s something of a revelation, and definitely one that warrants investigation of the band’s prestigious back catalogue.

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Bottom Line

On album number six, Decapitated don’t so much step out of the darkness as make it the only place you’d want to be. If this stuff works half as well live as it does on record, it’s going to be one hell of hard act to follow.

4/5 - Great, recommended

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