Decapitated – Cancer Culture (Review)

Decapitated - Cancer CultureDecapitated are a Polish death metal band and this is their eighth album.

This is the follow up to 2017’s Anticult, and offers 37 minutes of heaviness that is ridiculously enjoyable. I expected a new Decapitated release to be good, but I was not ready for just how good Cancer Culture turned out to be.

Decaptated’s strain of extreme metal is fundamentally a death metal one that is spliced with groove metal trappings, providing the band with a hybrid metallic base from which to launch their plans for domination. It’s a mix of old and new, with the band taking what works best from wherever they want to, and running with it hard.

This is vicious modern heavy music that’s underpinned by sharp technical death metal, which the band lean into more so here than they did on Anticult. The result is a murderous intensity that’s skilfully meshed with a song-focused vision that would make bands like Gojira, Lamb of God, and Pantera proud. If you take an album like 2004’s The Negation and cross it with Anticult and elements of these bands, (and some others like Meshuggah), you’ll have a good idea of where Cancer Culture is coming from.

The songs are festooned with barbed and anthemic hooks that would be unusual for a band of this ilk if they hadn’t already proven themselves in the past. Decapitated know how to write a catchy metal song, and Cancer Culture is packed with them. The melodic aspect of the music is sharper on this new release, and fully embedded in the songwriting, but it’s also more brutal too. The sense of the band reaching a new level with their material is strong, and only reinforced as you get to know the songs.

The drumming is punishing, impressive, and very satisfying. It is one of my favourite parts of the music, along with the melodic solos and the scathing guitars. It’s also full of face-melting riffs. Yes okay, I like pretty much everything here, but you get the point.

The singer’s brutal vocals are just as engaging and effective as ever, only more so, as he pushes himself further here than previously. His performance is characterised by blunt impact, yet also carries nuance by way of certain inflections and vocal patterns. The singers of Jinjer and Machine Head also appear on two songs respectively, both of which form the centrepiece of the album sitting as they do at tracks five and six out of ten.

Cancer Culture is Decapitated refined to a killing art. Simultaneously more brutal and further ranging, this is an exemplar of how good extreme metal can be in the right hands.

Essential listening.

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