Review Summary: The product of a band running on fumes
Although many would have you believe that Decapitated’s decline came as a result of Vitek’s tragic passing, in actuality, the band had simply exhausted their creative energy after their debut. Nihility
retained what little was left of the spark that made them such a force at the turn of the millennium, but every ensuing release feels like an engine that refuses to turn over, steadily sapping the already faltering battery with each crank to no avail. Opting for a change of pace following their reformation seemed like a good idea on paper, but it’s apparent that whatever issues the band are facing are a little more intrinsic than merely being stuck in an artistic rut. Pardon the cynicism, but Blood Mantra’s
mediocrity comes as no surprise.
Before the amusingly named second track is even complete, the album’s biggest failing is already obvious – a near total lack of inspiration. Highlights can barely even be called so, as the only thing distinguishing said moments is their strength relative to the album’s low points. The opening riff in “Exiled in Flesh” wouldn’t merit a second glance should it have appeared on a more accomplished record, yet it stands out on Blood Mantra
not because it’s interesting in any way, but simply because it isn’t irritating to listen to. Rasta provides some unintentional laughs with his inapt vocal performance, exhibited most comically during the breakdown of “Instinct”. The tough-guy delivery combined with the stuttering riff patterns could fool someone into believing they’re listening to a late-nineties nu-metal album, as opposed to a technical death marvel. Every now and then, Decapitated do manage to implement something worthwhile, yet they seem intent on spreading their ideas so thin that the best moments fizzle out and become lost in translation. “Blindness” begins with a subdued yet catchy rhythm that could’ve potentially led into something climactic, but it’s repeated ad infinitum that all interest is lost by half-distance. Such a criticism rings true for the album altogether, as by the time the final track arrives, you’re just counting down the minutes until Blood Mantra’s
At this point, the idea that Vogg spearheaded the creation of a tech-death classic is mystifying, given what his band achieved as teenagers in contrast to what we’re hearing now. Perhaps the impetuousness and naiveté of youth was a blessing in disguise, but one that faded as the prospects of adulthood dawned upon them. Regardless, Blood Mantra
is the inevitable result of drawing too much from an idea well that had so little to give in the first place.