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I’ve listened to this album many, many times since it was released. I have aurally examined it from end to end, sometimes on repeat. It is after so many listens that I know I could say this for myself as a long-time death metaller that Decapitated’s latest album, Carnival Is Forever, is a great triumph, and a triumph in more than one sense.
First off, it’s a celebration of perseverance through trial and tribulation as all are aware of the tragic death of drummer Vitek in 2007. This seemed to spell out the end for this young and immensely talented group and not many expected the band to return after such a devastating blow. And yet less than three years later, the band once again became active, headlining Summer Slaughter 2010 and along with that tour promises of a new album. And now that the album has arrived, we can all rejoice in its second triumph: proving that this band still pushes boundaries.
There is no loss of fury in the riffage on display here as "The Knife" makes that very clear from the get-go. Krimh's drumming is highlighted in this opening number; his style is very soulful and natural sounding as he drives the album from start to finish. "United" follows suit with an intense building intro that explodes into an absolutely furious blasting section coupled with a tremolo riff sure to be stuck in your head for days. The title track is slightly more mid-paced, the song's framework revolving around a crushing dissonant chug riff used as the refrain of sorts. This song is a perfect example of the darker tone and atmosphere present on the album. It eventually gives way to a single solitary guitar, picking away in a cavernous chamber at its eerie dirge. After a return to a more aggressive variation of that main refrain, the title track melts into perhaps the most immediately distinctively Decapitated piece on the album, "Homo Sum".
"Homo Sum" begins with a frenzied staccato pattern that does a particularly good job of highlighting Krimh's incredible ability behind the kit. It takes a left turn near the middle for "regaining of breath" purposes, a lone swirling guitar lead takes prominence before returning once more to the introduction riff and concluding itself. Immediately begins "404", a song that provides a few industrialized ideas reminiscent of Organic Hallucinosis. The greatest moment of this song is the rhythm-less solo that transitions itself into an immense blasting riff via a Krimh drum fill. The next track (my personal favorite) is "A View From A Hole", which deviates from standard Decapitated style in the best way. Vogg's strummed clean section gives Krimh yet another opportunity to show off his chops, and this section builds perfectly into the darkest riff Decapitated has yet written. From then on it's a whirlwind of blinding speed until its end. "Pest" is another excellent example of Vogg's distinctive riffing style, subtly technical and yet unforgettably groovy and mosh-worthy. The final piece of the album is "Silence", a quiet mournful clean piece that stands on its own as a heartfelt tribute from Vogg in memory of his late brother. Caps off to V on this one. It's a simple piece but it ties together all of the emotions felt after the unexpected death of Vitek in 2007 and wraps up Decapitated's first post-bus accident statement perfectly.
My conclusion? Decapitated is back and as solid as ever. This album is not just good for the novelty of it. It’s not worth regarding simply because it is a comeback album. Carnival Is Forever is full of riffs, full of passion, and full of feeling. We see a progression of moods ranging from anger to acceptance, from defeat to triumph, and from grief to solace. Vogg and co. have produced a death metal album with real emotion. How many bands have done something like that?