Review Summary: "The Negation", while not exactly breaking any new ground, shows us that the old still has plenty of kick left in it, and boy does it kick hard.
When I first heard Decapitated, it was a song from their new album, on their MySpace. I was quite unimpressed. However, in a depression-induced music buying frenzy, I decided it was high time to take a look at one of the Polish 4-piece's full efforts. The Negation was the first I came across, and honestly, it left me quite stunned with its sheer brutality.
The first track, The Fury, makes as much of an opening statement as possible in the first 20 seconds of the track. The deep fuzz distortion pans and wavers, gradually increasing in volume until it becomes deafening. Finally, the guitars come charging in, courtesy of Vogg, blasting out a riff laiden with triplet patters. It was truly awe inspiring, akin to the beginning of the acclaimed Opeth album Blackwater Park. The vocals are frighteningly raw, screamed with amazing intensity. Decapitated does not rely on the new wave of Death Metal's screaming range (for example, the pig squeal), instead placing the entirety of its faith in the sheer power of the vocalist.
Another thing I noticed, even in the first song, was the speed and punishing intensity of the drumming. Vitek truly does credit to Death Metal with his efforts here. Not so stupidly over the top, as you might find on early Nile albums, but still retaining that brutal blast beat without falling too much into the trap of physical impossibility, the likes of which you might find on Sleep Terror's latest record. The assault of "The Fury" breaks way into a brilliantly written riff in "Three-dimensional Defect". A common feature found in many riffs from "The Negation" is the triplet style bottom string chug. I have heard countless bands use this in their songs, but "Three-dimensional Defect" shows that it is still well alive and kicking.
A drawback in these songs is the bass. Being a big fan of the booming undercurrent of the four-string monstrosity, there is a notable lack of it in these songs. This is sadly becoming a standard in metal. Only a few times can it be heard distinctly over the roar of the guitars, and when it is, it is that simple crunching bass interlude. There is a lack of bottom end on many of the tracks, and sadly this brings down the sound of the album. By no means is it adversely detrimental, however it does have its drawbacks, there is much more room for it in Decapitated's music.
As the album progresses, some may find the similar vocals and guitar styles a strain on the originality in between songs, as they are often at similar tempos. "The Calling", the only instrumental track on the album, briefly lets up the assault for a more evil atmosphere. Job For A Cowboy seem to have taken a leaf out of Decapitated's book with their Genesis album, with the brief interlude "Upheaval" coming in at a similar place and having a similar effect. Nonetheless, in both albums the song brings the desired reaction from the listener, and being brought back into the title track "The Negation" after the brief respite is absolutely stunning. The riff chugs along slower, the double kicking of Vitek providing a constant pounding reminder of what kind of record this is.
Another thing Decapitated bring to the table that has been long missed in Death Metal is the screaming shred solo. Vogg truly knows his way around an axe. This is reminiscent of the days of Morbid Angel and Death in the earlier years, and to me, sounds like a modern homage to their pioneering ways. The noble shred-solo is becoming a rarity in modern Death Metal, especially in this new wave of "Deathcore", where a guitar solo is a rarity, if it comes at all.
"The Negation", while not exactly breaking any new ground, shows us that the old still has plenty of kick left in it. It isn't a rehash of basic metal riffs, it is a new take on what some say is making the Death Metal genre stale these days. Every song on this album is good, there are none that stand out as particularly awful. Decapitated has truly struck an excellent balance between the modern metal scene and the metal that the long-term lovers such as myself know and love. I recommend this album to any lover of the genre, as it will appeal to just about any fan of brutality in music.