Decapitated have risen up the technical death metal ladder rather quickly over the last six years by producing three excellently crafted albums, thus sending many a fan and reviewer into tailspins comparing the band to fellow Polish thrashers Vader and Canada's Cryptopsy. I could name quite a few others, but they have a sound that is unique. Yes, I am aware that outsiders can't hear the difference, just as I can't tell the difference between rap artists.
Focusing more on the 'technical' side of the genre can tilt a band's base toward thrash or melodic death, and of course will start the despairing growls of fans crying "sell out," or lumping them into the rest of bandwagon-jumping metalcore bands. Thankfully, Decapitated have not driven themselves off their well-established credibility avenue. Riffs and pedals are still delivered at breakneck speeds and with rancorous blunt-force trauma to your ear drums. The biggest and most obvious question surrounding this release is the switch at lead vocal, out goes Sauron and in with Covan, who previously performed with Atrophia Red Sun. Covan is an excellent vocalist and delivers a very powerful death metal vocal; although he is cleaner than Sauron, his voice confidently holds its own amongst the savage yet controlled guitars of Vogg, who is a force deserving more recognition in the metal community.
The perfection of such instant classics like "Day 69," "Visual Delusion," and "Flash B(l)ack" have to be heard to be believed, as all three are thrash-on-a-crack-binge. Self-produced and delivered at ear splitting volumes, with a rich, full bottom end all the while not letting a single note get missed, all sounds can be heard and treasured by the listener. The other tunes, while good, by contrast are slightly less than special due to their sound being drug through the swamp a little, essentially sounding definitively more chug than slick. That is not a bad thing, but lowers my excitement level a bit.
Rating: 9/10 — A short album, just over 30 judicious minutes, plays like an EP, which I believe may have been the correct decision. While the album can be listened to as background music, it is so much better when heard with a focused ear just like Vader's EP earlier this year. This might be the way the go in these days of short attention spans, compact and to the point. Overall, another excellent release for these death metal veterans, who are still young with plenty of youthful angst ready to be unleashed. I believe we can assume that we are going to be hearing from them for many more years.