Polish extreme metallers Decapitated return with Anticult another slab of grooving, whiplash inducing heaviness. Voog and company continue down the path already forged on Carnival is Forever and Blood Mantra by further blurring the lines between groove metal and death metal: Foot not completely set in either camp. While decidedly even groovier than their previous album was, the songs are impeccably written and arranged. While other bands in the extreme metal genre seem to be trying to one-up each another in terms of riff complexity and speed, Voog seems content on channeling chug masters a la Pantera, Meshuggah, Lamb of God, and dare I say even Fear Factory.
On the opening track, “Impulse”, the moody and dark clean guitar work first explored on CIF and BM find their way back. The brooding riff foreshadows the journey ahead; memorable, crushing, and devastatingly heavy songs. The band obviously has simplified their songwriting approach at this point in their career by focusing on well-arranged and easy to digest riffs, but fear not as there is plenty of tinnitus inducing brutality to be found throughout. “One eyed nation” and “Anger Line” are standout examples showcasing perfected modern metal, blasting and heavier than a ton of bricks. “Deathvaluation” is somewhat of the outlier on this record. While Voog has been experimenting with more rock laced riffs, this concept is channeled the most on this track. While there is nothing inherently wrong with the song, it does feel a little out of place compared to the rest of the tunes.
While Decapitated always had good production, Anticult is by far one of their best sounding albums to date. Without being overly saturated, the guitar tone is crunchy as a bag of ruffles, Kick drums that impact like a punch in gut, bass rumbling like the San Andreas fault, and the vocals screaming just above the instrumentation but never overwhelming them. The listener never has to choose which instrument to focus on since the mixing is on point and so goddamn satisfying.
While Anticult is a more accessible affair, it shouldn’t deter longtime fans from checking out the record. Far from it. While I’d be hard pressed to see most tech-death fans to fully embrace this record, maybe that’s precisely the point. The music found within is seeking to speak to a broader range of metal fans, not just the musicians. Decapitated’s songwriting skills are nearly at its apex on this record, making an album as they see fit and on their own terms. Surely older fans may bemoan the newer sound Decap have been crafting over the past few albums, but it’s obvious that the interest in crafting straight up death metal is no longer their priority. Following a more formulaic song structure doesn’t make the music less extreme than overly techy death metal. It really comes down to good songs, played with passion and conviction. If the result may be more accessible, all the better. While “musician’s music” is all fine and well, it has more of a niche appeal instead of attempting to appeal to the wider swath of the metal underground. All in all, sometimes a simple riff is all it should take to summon you to the mosh pit and Anticult delivers this in spades.