Carnival Is Forever
Review by Yener on May 30, 2019.
I have to be honest, I was never the biggest Decapitated fan. That doesn't mean that I don’t own all the albums physically, because I do. But up until this point, with a few exceptions, they've never truly clicked with me. Never sucked me in.
I’m still not quite sure what it is about this album, but after ignoring for well over a year, for some reason I decided to pay it another visit. And ever since then it hasn’t let me go. A lot of people will disagree with me on this, but I really didn't enjoy Organic Hallucinations, besides a few tracks. On the whole I found it to be a snooze fest, so I didn't have much hopes for this album, especially since the band tragically lost Vitek and Covan.
The band Vogg has put together since then seems to be perfectly capable, and let’s be honest, most of us here are for the guitar and drum work. While new drummer Paul is not as distinct as Vitek was, he still does a fabulous job throughout the album. Some of the most memorable parts on this album for me are the drum parts, which is not an easy thing to achieve.
The first blow is delivered in the shape of “The Knife”, and all across the board it’s a solid, enjoyable track. This is when the listener will hear Rafal for the first time, and in my opinion, he does a fine job. A step away from your usual guttural, boring death metal vocals, he holds his own just fine, with the rest of the band grinding away your senses.
Throughout the album Vogg experiments with clean sounds, and also quite a lot of different chord structures and shapes. This is a very welcome addition rather than the usual death metal far of fast trem picked or palm muted riffs. The guitar playing on this album is very organic, as can be heard on the title track. It’s also pretty damn creative as well, and everything flows together quite seamlessly.
“Homo Sum” is the single from the record, and one of the best tracks to be found on here. I remember when the album first leaked, people criticized it for just basically being an open E string and being too simple. This song was also my first taste of the album, and I simply didn't get it at first. It seemed boring and repetitive, though that is incredibly far from the truth. The thing that makes this song shine is not the intro, or the verses, it’s Vogg’s incredible solo section. Backed up by an awesome pulsating bass, and driving drums, it’s like a trance. Reminds me of the solos Meshuggah used to do back in the day, where everything had a very “spacey” feel to it. This isn't a bad thing at all, and Vogg’s tone here, his touch, and just everything just makes it work. Once this section of the song clicked with me, finally, the rest of the album just made a whole lot more sense for some reason. I suppose it’s because it was here I realized that Decapitated weren't the old Decapitated anymore. They weren't trying to be. They had evolved.
The album, somehow, seems to pick up momentum halfway through, and “404” is simply awesome. The groovy riff at the beginning, the weird verse riff and everything just make it very interesting to listen to. However, it’s the ending that really makes it shine. At 3:37 the band steps on the gas, and off they go into what is perhaps their closest venture into older Decapitated territory, but with a twist. Again, Vogg’s solo with just the drum and bass backing him is top notch. Excellent execution, and flawless climax. It then erupts into one of the most memorable sections on the album. Outstanding stuff.
I don’t really know what made me come back to this album, but I’m sure glad I did. It’s a fantastic evolution for the band in my opinion. It has a lot of new twists and turns, as well as nods to the Decapitated of old, such as on “Pest”. It sounds like there is something in here for everyone, though it’s a shame more people don’t give this album more of a chance. It’s definitely worth coming back to, so if you own it, come back to it with a good set of earphones and a fresh set of ears. This is not to be missed. It’s well worth the effort to sit down with it and to fully understand what it has to offer. This was an incredibly important album for Vogg and Decapitated, and I’m just glad he had the courage to try something new rather than resting on his previous success.
Rating: 9.2 out of 10
Review by Chris Pratl on June 22, 2017.
Say it ain’t so, Joe.
Decapitated has had more than a human share of misfortune hit the band in recent years with the death of founding drummer Vitek and the horrible incapacitating of vocalist Covan after a bus accident in Belarus in ’07. At that point the band was riding high, making a name for itself all over the underground at a blinding speed. In one fell swoop it all changed with Carnival is Forever…and not for the better.
This album is straight ahead nu-metal, nothing more, nothing less, and even when certain morons try and explain away this tag and call me out for improper usage of it I staunchly stand by it; the careful dancing around the trite, predictable vocals and blast-beat drumming on a seemingly endless program spill mallcore secrets in copious amounts and it seems that the band has hit the proverbial brick wall. From the very first chords of “The Knife” I immediately shake my head with wonder as to how the band went from Organic Hallucinosis to this unmitigated and trite mess. While there are still some death metal devices in place throughout the album, the basic concept is raped and left bleeding on a cold, soulless floor. I understand now just how much Vitek, Sauron and Covan gave to Decapitated over its career, and I have to cringe at the thought of what the young drummer would think of this pedestrian direction had he not been so violently taken from this life.
What you might have gotten out of The Negation or Nihility is long gone and in its place is this lethargic and diluted spectacle set to music. I’m not even sure how I managed to get through this album without taking short breaks to slam my head off the bathroom sink as I surely wanted to; I consider it a wasted opportunity. The best comparison I can offer is to Meshuggah, which in my opinion is one of the better insults I must attach to this album. The vocals are silly, processed yelling that might serve some 15-year-old who’s never actually heard the band before, but for season pros like myself and a few thousand other fans this is just flat out lazy! The best track on here is the instrumental “Silence”, which at least has the decency to rip off Opeth rather than Trivium.
Metal history is littered like a Kansas highway with the good and bad when a band implements a major lineup change. Some decisions have been positive for the band (Black Sabbath and Accept immediately come to mind), and then some have been dead air being forced down your throat ala Venom or anything by Mayhem post De Mysteriiis dom Sathanas. Sometimes the original fire is just doused, and such is the case here. Everything that made Decapitated a powerful, destructive band has been circumcised beyond legitimate gender identification. What once packed a volatile punch to the face in tracks like “The First Damned” or “Visual Delusion” has now given way to the lame attempt at some Nevermore-like progressive riffs that fall well short and only survive in the mall-fan’s miniscule psyche. This is not how the band should go out, and at this point anything else would be an affront to the band’s legacy. Enough damage has been done.
I’m sure some fans might find some value in these tracks, but all I keep hearing is the typicality of Nu-metal garbage running over the music with reckless abandon without any regard for true technical death metal lineage, never mind staying true to the band’s original ideas. These silly chugging guitars are more Hatebreed than anything else, and while I do enjoy the occasional Hatebreed album I certainly do not want to hear it under the Decapitated moniker - it’s just bad taste, not to mention a slap in the face to the fans that stuck out both the good days coming up and the dark hours soon to follow. If this is the best that the band can offer I say the band died on that lonely road with Vitek much the same way Metallica did on the icy road in Sweden in 1986. Some machines just can’t work on a different fuel and shouldn’t be forced to grind gears on a bone-dry ideal that is lost to an unimaginative and complacent effort.
If a carnival is forever, then a sellout is infinite.
Rating: 4 out of 10
(Originally written for MetalPsalter.com)
Review by Adam M on July 24, 2011.
The new Decapitated shows some slight changes and tweaks to the sound the band has been developing, but still retains the passionate aggression that they’ve always been known for. This is a collection of songs that contains jagged rhythms, numerous changes of pace and a great deal of groove. I’ve seen many mentions that this album has noticeable similarities to Meshuggah and though there are definitely traces of influence, this is still a decidedly Decapitated album throughout and continues upon the ideas of the previous album “Organic Hallucinosis”.
The band is still able to pull the listener into their eerie Death Metal groove and never release and this is seen on many of the tracks on "Carnival Is Forever". The first three tracks on the disc make a huge impact and three of the best to be found here. Notably, the opener 'Knife' gets the proceedings off to a furious start and the title track offers a demented changeable mood that gives the release some much need variety. Otherwise,'View In A Hole' had memorable rhythms and moments that made it another standout. The worst song on the album is by far '404' which ventures too far into the Meshuggah style instead of retaining the typical Decapitated sound, which is usually superior in the first place.
Regardless, the material here is stellar and backed up by some strong instrumental performances. The guitar licks are punishing and versatile, as expected, and the drumming is solid. The vocals aren’t nearly as Hardcore influenced as some are making them out to be, but sound slightly too similar to those of Meshuggah again. Guitar solos are also not quite exciting as they have been in the past. The amount of atmosphere and variation on the album makes up for any small flaws, however.
"Carnival Is Forever" is just another solid Decapitated release and as good as anything they’ve done outside of "Winds Of Creation".
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 8.5 out of 10