There’s album artwork and then there’s album artwork. The latter is the kind that speaks to you the moment you pick it up. It’s the kind that—in conjunction with the album title—conveys every hidden detail beyond its glossy surface. Beyond the praying hands to my left—forced together in the most submissive way—is post-Vitek Decapitated. A band I’ve had a hard time understanding since Vitek passed in 2007. Like many fans, I am partial to the earlier period of Decapitated. An era that included Nihility: an album that pretty much controlled my existence the moment it came out, and for years afterward. So, understandably, I was excited about the band’s 2011 comeback record, Carnival Is Forever. Honestly, I was so excited that it brought me to tears. Although the band changed forever in 2011, the comeback was decent, though, it was different. And, in some cases, wrong. Then, Blood Mantra arrived with its new-meets-old sound and, all a sudden, their style made sense to me. Now, Anticult has arrived. Like its predecessor, Anticult‘s artwork screams of death, groove, and everything between. It conveys aggression, massiveness, and an unrelenting desire to crush all in its path. But, what the music should sound like—as per the artwork—and what it does sound like are two different things.

I can’t say I’m surprised by the full-on groove of Anticult. As the band slowly pulled away from technical death, it makes sense that this new release would contain a greater degree of the groovy stuff. And that’s exactly what Anticult is: a groove metal record with a fine dusting of death. Within its tight thirty-seven-minute runtime lies the signature face-smashing vocal assault of Rafał Piotrowski and the band’s bludgeoning attack of drums and guitars. Yet, the outcome (in comparison to Blood Mantra and records before it) is something between the back-alley bullying of a heavier DevilDriver, a meaner Lamb of God, and a Phil-less Pantera. But this is Decapitated as we know it (now). It may not be the band that released Winds of Creation back in ’00, but it’s still Decapitated—love ’em or hate ’em.

Long story short, Anticult ain’t at the same level as Blood Mantra. It’s actually quite a bit below it. Blood Mantra was a damn good record that worked hard to mix groove into the band’s older death style. But, no matter how much I try, I fight to listen to Anticult when Blood Mantra is so close by. Which, I suppose, says something about this new record. However, there are a handful of decent moments. The better parts include the riffs and attitude found on tracks like “Kill the Cult,” “Earth Scar,” and “Never.” All have ball-busting segments that’ll get your head snapping like home-grown green beans. The first two, in particular, have some killer groove and the kind of riffs that spark adolescent, living room mosh pits. Unfortunately, that’s about as far as they go. Especially considering that the riffs in both “Kill the Cult” and “Earth Scar” are similar enough that “uniqueness” is a stretch when describing the two of them.

In the end, these DevilDriver-like numbers lack the diversity old-time fans are looking for. Where can you find such diversity? Look no farther (further?) than “Never” and “One-Eyed Nation.” By “diversity,” I mean “different than the straight-forwardness of the rest of the album.” Both trample your soul for five–to–six minutes using sinister riffage and nut-clutching tightness. “Never” has some aggressive guitar licks that scream of Fear Factory and vocal lines that’ll punch you right in the face (while dropping odd, senseless piano chords right in the middle) and “One-Eyed Nation” has a gentle introduction that gives way to hell. Just the same, neither performs in ground-breaking ways.

Beyond the tracks mentioned above, you get two opening tracks with the same forgetfulness (“Impulse” and “Deathvaluation”), a track that tries too hard to be memorable (“Anger Line”), and an instrumental closer that tries to match wits with Blood Mantra‘s closer, “Red Sun” (“Amen”). But, in this case, the closer never had the album to support it. The result is a finale with decent riff that’s about as convincing as a nun with a pitchfork. All that said, Anticult‘s production is up there with its predecessor’s. The drums have an immediate presence and the songs have a nice crispness. But it’s not enough, and I’m left feeling a little bummed by the final product. But, don’t take my word for it. If this is what you expected—and wanted—dive right in. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. As for me, Anticult is about as disappointing as it gets.


Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Websites: decapitatedband.net | facebook.com/decapitated
Releases Worldwide: July 7th, 2017

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  • Austin Lovell

    I actually liked this quite a bit more then Blood Mantra which I thought was pretty forgettable overall. May have to give that album another spin.

  • Jason

    Very different review from Sam Dunn’s 5/5. I’m going to have to listen to this one first.

  • Jaime VG

    I´m massively enjoying this album. Blood Mantra was dissapointing, ended up sounds to much like Meshuggah, “Blindness” is a total “rip off” of “Swarm” from Koloss. Of the second Decapitated era, this is my favorite album, it grooves, has energy, killer riffs and solos and sounds really good to my ears. The perfect balance of brutality and groove. I like the hardcore vibe in some of the tracks too and I have no problem with the Pantera influence.

  • kmal666

    I liked this one a lot – thought it had plenty of riffs, good vocals prodution was pretty good. I;d give it a 3.5/5. Then again I didnt like the new dying fetus everyone is creaming themselves over so what do i know.

    • jemaiseyeti

      Completely agree though, not feeling the new Dying Fetus at all honestly. One-Eyed Nation and Never alone make this a 3/5

    • metalcasket

      The new Dying Fetus is a FANTASTIC album, but it’s taxing to get through in one sitting, and that’s pretty much the sole reason it’s not going to get regular spins from me. I’m of the opinion that all death metal needs to end somewhere between the 35-40 min mark max.

      • Ferrous Beuller

        Check out the new Mouldered record for a band who is in the know regarding brutal brevity.

        • metalcasket

          Goddamn. This is some good shit.

  • Luca Popescu

    I realize I shouldn’t just pine for Spheres of Madness, but I’m just pining for Spheeres of Madness….

    • Lone Biker of the Apocalypse

      Spheres is fantastic, but I honestly jam Nihility a whole lot more.

  • Shrümpelstiltskin

    I’ve never been much of a tech death person, but I always appreciated Decapitated for doing it well. However, with the stylistic switch, I feel like this is the first Decapitated record that I’ve ever actually really enjoyed. They do groove metal surprisingly well, and I hope they continue to move away from their original sound, even though I know that will disappoint basically everyone.

  • Diego Dias

    I think 2 out of 5 it is a bit harsh to this album…

  • Hammersmith

    I guess I’ve always preferred their early stuff. Winds of Creation is the bomb! I didn’t love Organic Hallucinosis, but it was decent. Carnival I don’t think I ever made it all the way through, and I haven’t been back since. Maybe I’ll check out this new album, but I’m not expecting much.

  • rumour_control

    Love Blood Mantra. Have played it just as much as their early work. This review is deflating. I’ll have to take a listen, but I’m not surprised Decapitated were not able to keep up the momentum, built by that release, if their latest truly is a disappointing slab of metal. Blood Mantra appeared like a masterful consolidation in both musical and emotional terms after the tragic events of ’07, and…well…where does one go from there?

  • Lone Biker of the Apocalypse

    With their tragic bus accident and all that this band has been through, (and especially how crazy it was that they wrote and recorded Spheres and Nihility as teens!) I always give this band more than the benefit of the doubt. There are still shades of brilliance here and some of the riffs are still brought extremely well.

  • IBlackened

    Last time they did something that excited me was ‘Organic Hallucinosis’.

  • Bas

    I am not a big fan of tech.death nor of the groove metal bands mentioned. However I somehow like the previous albums from this band. I prefer the ones with more groove, so will check it out. Good review by the way. I hope it wont be a disappointment for me..

  • Me

    I’ve been wondering what AMG would rate this album. I can’t say I’m surprised by the score. What surprises me is that I enjoy this album way more than Blood Mantra. I’d love another Nihility but with only one remaining member, it’s not happening.

  • Reese Burns

    I really liked this one. My biggest gripe with it is that I would have liked more solos. Other than that though, it has an alacrity to it that I very much enjoy. It’s not quite as good as Carnival is Forever, but a nice fun release.

  • Viva el Death Metal

    Earth Scar = roots bloody roots = Sepulpitated.

    Blood Mantra was bearable for the old fans precisely because it worked that groove sound within that structure of tech death. This album goes in the same direction that Sepultura took when they changed their sound in Roots. As history has shown, that was a very bad decision that decapitated should learn, not repeat.

  • AndySynn

    I like it. There are some absolutely KILLER riffs on it too (I find your lack if love for “Impulse” disturbing).

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Sorry. I really tried. It’s just not clicking. I’m too much of a fan of their earlier stuff that I just don’t get this. But I’m glad to see a lot of readers love these guys still (and love this album). I do love this band. Just not this new stuff.

      • AndySynn

        I’m sorry, but the internet is no place for dissenting opinions.

        Fall in line Herr Doctor… or face the consequences!

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          Dammit!

      • welyyt

        That’s funny, because for some reason, this was the record that made me finally check out their older albums, and it’s really interesting to see that there are hints of the groove approach on Nihility, and The Negation isn’t that groovy, but it’s much chuggier that the earlier, more technical material.

        This record is kinda middle of the road for me, but I’m glad it inspired me to get into their old stuff (now I live and breathe Nihility), and I hope the same happens to other people, because the Vitek-era rules.

        Oh, and great review, Dr. A.N.

        • Name’s Dalton

          Bought Nihility sound unheard last night and listened to it immediately. Amazing album.

        • AndySynn

          “The Negation” and “Carnival…” are actually my joint-top albums. As much as I like “Nihility”, I just never seem to *love* it as much as everyone else does!

          • welyyt

            I just remember thinking that all of the riffs sounded the same, but if it’s your fave, I might as well give it another shot.

          • AndySynn

            I must warn you though, I have weird taste at times.

  • Planex

    y is groove insted of techdth?

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Yep, agree with the review completely. This is basically Blood Mantra, except a hundred times less interesting…

    • welyyt

      I agree with the rating too, but I’ve listened to it more than I expected; it’s heavy enough, and the groove is nice during a workout. However, it’s pretty disappointing that the guy behind the amazing riffage on Nihility is fine with making music built on generic pentatonic chugging.

  • Jrod1983

    Not a bad album at all, just not a great one.
    Definitely going along their current progression to full on groove.

    Winds of Creation is one of my favorite albums of all time period, so based on the merit of that album I’ll always give them a chance, even if (IMO) they sound like a completely different band now.

  • I have trouble with understanding this “big difference” between old and new Decap… I was especially focusing on this aspect while revisiting old albums and – to my ears – it’s mainly in the vocals. Vogg always had the talent for groove and it’s not that hard to find some riffs from Vitek’s era (especially on “The Negation”), which could easily fit in last two albums.
    In my opinion this band’s style is actually quite consistent, if you look past the vocals.
    By that I’m not saying that I love new album as much as old ones. I simply didn’t hear the whole thing yet. Promo tracks definitely show the promise and raise my appetite for live destruction.

    • thiR

      From a drum standpoint, this album burries Blood Mantra 666 feet under. It’s much closer to what was done on Organic Hallucinosis or Nihility.

  • Matt McMadden

    I actually think this album is pretty great. I had written them off after Carnival Is Forever and Blood Mantra, both of which did nothing for me, but this album is a lot of fun to listen to. Some really killer riffs and grooves to be found here.

  • Mariusz Miłosz

    Am I the only one who hates the album cover? It’s bad goddamit! Anyway, listened to it once for now, and I have a feeling that I’m gonna like it more than Blood Mantra.

  • ben

    I really enjoy this album, and i’m glad to see many others commenting with similar levels of enjoyment. I think it’s important to separate the old and the new; to forget that decap has a history. They are a different band now. Vitek was integral to the early sound. I don’t think i’ll ever enjoy the newer albums as much as the older ones, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the new stuff for what it is: super fun, riffy, groovy metal sprinkled with a hint of death metal.

  • Vance McCumber

    Sounds like Decapitated to me, to me they have always sounded like Decapitated, the vocals are more hardcore and shouted, that is the biggest difference. I think Vogg is trying harder to write a badass memorable riff instead of just flying all over the fretboard. Impulse is badass, Never, One-Eyed Nation. I think all the people out there that are hating on this album just haven’t allowed it to sink it enough. Oh and the opening riff on the Blood Mantra song is probably the best Vogg has ever written :)

  • Kill The King

    I like this album a lot. There’s no “Spheres of Madness” but I love anything that reminds me of Dimebag.

  • KBien13

    I’m really digging this album, too. “Kill the Cult” might be my odds on favorite for Riff of the Year so far.

  • Thatguy

    Here’s the thing. Doc is entitled to be disappointed because he is so familiar with and loves the early Decapitated, but to me, who is not, this sounds pretty good. I think this means I’m agreeing with a lot of the commenters here.

    Bugger.

    • welyyt

      Et tu, Brute? Kvlt status revoked, you are now antikvlt.

      • Thatguy

        I’m anti-everything.

        • welyyt

          Oh, that’s clever. Seriously though, if you’re into tech, at least check out Nihility.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      You’re honesty is appreciated. You reviewed the same album from the opposite angle from mine. And that assessment is spot on.

    • Name’s Dalton

      You knew this day would come.

      • Thatguy

        I don’t have to like it .

        • Name’s Dalton

          🤘🏻☠️😎

  • John Mosley

    Loved Blood Mountain. One and done with Anticult.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Their first two albums are classics of Death Metal, aptly balancing technicality and brutality. Now that they have infused so much groove into their music it almost borders on Deathcore, so I prefer their first two albums. This might be pretty good, but it pales in comparison to their early output. In my eyes, Decapitated can be compared to Neil Armstrong: after you became the first man on the Moon, nothing you ever do can top your early achievements.
    There should be a name for that, shouldn’t it? The Neil Armstrong Conundrum? curse?

    • thiR

      This reminds me of when Organic Hallucinosis was released, people screaming “deathcore!” all over the place. It’s still their best effort to date though with insane riffing and crazy drum patterns. “Winds of Creation” wad good, but it wasn’t quite mature yet, it sounds a bit naive. Technically it’s good, but it was lacking identity unlike Nihility and OH.

    • Name’s Dalton

      Neil Armstrong Paradox

  • Jeffrey Dean

    This is my favorite Decapitated album since Organic Hallucinosis. The riffing here is tight and alive, the tone and production are brimming with vibrant energy, and the length is just right. This excites me in ways Blood Mantra couldn’t. I agree more with Sam Dunn’s 5/5, although I’d 4.5 if just because there’s always room for improvement.

  • Ondřej Hanus

    So I guess I’m the only who agrees with the score…?

  • thiR

    I absolutely hated blood mantra which was mind numbingly boring (trying too hard to be “melodic”… fuck melodies, it’s Decapitated we are talking about here, not yet another US groove metal BS act) and a far cry from masterpieces like “Nihility” or “Organic Hallucinosis”. At least “Anticult” is much closer to what Decapitated used to be, which is perfectly fine. If it ain’t broken, why fix it?

  • Marcel Wertheimer

    Nice effort by decapitated, not their best work but is enjoyable , had some good moments. It´s worth the listen . hope for the next albums to be better.

  • galtenberg

    I don’t care about old vs new style for a band – no album that’s so well executed and produced should get a 2/5 rating.

    Have some pride as a publication.

    • You’re totally right. We should not go with the reviewer’s actual opinion and go with yours instead for the sake of our website.

      • galtenberg

        Who said go with mine? Just have some editorial standards against immaturity of reviewers.

        • Thank you for the invaluable feedback. We’ll definitely look into that.

          • herrschobel

            hmmmm…maybe sometimes a Reviewer should step back and admit that he or she might be too biased ( and pass on the record to someone with a fresh perspective ) due to Nostalgia, a hang over or because he is married to the bass players sister…. or other distractions that cloud the view … but this raises the question “how subjective should a review be in general…” …. the album is very good from where i am standing .. but i am currently hanging out in the Austrian Alps an everything looks great from here…

  • There’s some interesting stuff on this album. It comes across my ears musically like a cross between Fear Factory, SYL, Pantera, with little dashes of Meshuggah and Soreption. Also it is a very “positive” album, the music is “happy” sounding throughout most of it. There is some fun to be had for sure with those addictive rhythms. Having said, I don’t disagree with the mediocre score…as with the other recent post-accident albums it’s lacking something that could take it to that next level. Vogg’s more adventurous soloing on Anticult is a nice touch, but I think it’s the overall sameness of feel song to song and now album to album that’s hurting the band at this point.

  • wrathzombie

    This is brilliant. I have loved older Decapitated like Blood Mantra, but love this groove. It’s my AOTY.

  • wrathzombie

    I will give it a higher score just because the execution is spot on. Forget Lamb Of God, Pantera, Fear Factory and Devildriver. Just look at this as a Decapitated executed groove frenzy. If no one knew about the old records this would score higher.

  • Metrognome26

    I love it. I thought that Carnival is Forever was a massive let down, but I liked Blood Mantra a lot. I like Anticult even more. Decapitated definitely sound like a different band than they did in the Vitek days, but I think that without two of the original members that there’s no way they’d ever sound quite like that again. To me this feels like the “new” Decapitated finding their footing and firmly planting their flag in the ground.

  • TheCurlyMetalhead

    Its a meh record for me as well, sounds bland and uninspired :/