Decapitated's sixth album, 2011's Carnival Is Forever, took five long years to emerge and saw a wholesale reconstruction of the enduring Polish technical death metal band led by guitarist Waclaw "Vogg" Kieltyka, following the appalling death of his brother and drummer, Witold "Vitek" Kieltyka in a 2007 tour bus accident. While coping with his grief and the indecision as to whether he should even carry on, Vogg kept himself busy by recording and performing with Poland's elder statesmen of deathly thrash, Vader, but it's obvious that his own creative muse -- and possibly his grieving process -- eventually drove him to express himself via this new, belated batch of controlled sonic chaos. So it is that, for the bulk of their first halves, implausibly heavy, musically vicious and polyrhythmically busy numbers such as "The Knife," "United," "404," and "Pest" (all of which owe a trick or two to Meshuggah, Gojira, and even Byzantine) appear to be at war with themselves -- such is the instrumental complexity displayed by each musician as he fights to out-shred his bandmates. It seems to be only with great effort that they eventually forge a nervous truce that sees endless guitar parts, subliminal bass, and bashing drums layered into densely textured mini-epics evoking powerful waves of catharsis, again and again. For variety's sake, "Homo Sum" finds Vogg and co. overlaying melodies of a vaguely Middle Eastern nature above the usual maelstrom, and both the memorable "A View from a Hole" and the nearly-nine-minute-long title track flip the script by taking their time building from tranquility to brutality; but perhaps the biggest surprise is the mournful instrumental closer "Silence," which one can only assume is meant to deliver a wordless epitaph for the departed Vitek. His sad demise is no excuse to give Decapitated a pass on an album that succeeds perhaps more through execution than brilliant creativity, but that doesn't mean Carnival Is Forever doesn't stack up pretty favorably against the band's past efforts, either. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia
Kerrang (Magazine) (p.51) - "[P]laintive instrumental closer 'Silence' is unexpectedly poignant, stripping away their armour to reveal a very human heart."
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