Almost four years after Vitek's tragic death and Covan's departure due to a slow recovery, Decapitated has returned with 5th record released by Nuclear Blast. I bet that many fans of the band felt a slight prick of anxiety at the sight of CARNIVAL IS FOREVER cover art. Samara from "The Ring" wearing a bunny mask does not bode well. Fortunately, Vogg & Co do not ply us with pretentious metalcore crap. What's more, the cover art actually turned out to be a great complement to the album's obscure ambiance.
Besides being a very talented guitarist and composer, Vogg knows how to make extreme metal sound good. CARNIVAL IS FOREVER assaults the listener with organic, selective and brutal combination of technical death metal, post-thrash metal and... wait, hardcore vocals? Yep, that's what everybody was so upset about. Hardcore vocals are so untrue. I can't say I do not miss Covan's growling, but Rafał's thrash/hardcore roaring is absolutely acceptable. So stop complaining, please.
Having the amazing ORGANIC HALLUCINOSIS still ringing in my head, I was somewhat underwhelmed with the offering from the reborn Decapitated. While they continue with the djenty/post-thrash style known from the previous album, I was hoping for another step towards their own musical identity. Rather than that, they made thrash metal the prevalent element and thereby recorded a post-thrash metal album with a sharp death metal edge. Now, I'm not by any means saying that they lost their identity. Decapitated still sound like Decapitated, a band with style influenced by artists you can easily point at. That's the point, the influences are still a bit too obvious. Besides that, I have nothing else to complain about. CARNIVAL IS FOREVER is a great record that has grown on me after repeated listens. Fantastic riffs and breaks are what Decapitated were always best at. The main theme from "A View from A Hole" is a proof that nothing has changed in that matter.
CARNIVAL IS FOREVER is a great post-thrash/death metal album and if only it was a little bit more daring and experimental, I'd call it a masterpiece. Despite an interesting atmosphere, songwriting is a tad too restrained and I can't help but hope for some more spontaneity from Decapitated on their next stay in the studio.