I’ve been a semi-regular visitor to Poland since the late 90’s, and I’ve brought back loads of Polish metal CD’s on my travels. Decapitated are one of the bands that I really grew to love, particularly with “Winds of Creation” and “Nihility”, at which time they were probably the heaviest of the Polish death metal bands, with a market-cornering brand of ultra-sterile, technical, cold-sounding death metal. Of course, the tragedy that befell the band has been well documented, and their come back albums have been well received. It’s fair to say though, with “Anticult”, they’re a long way from their roots.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing of course; plenty of bands have been able to change and evolve as they move on. Think of Sepultura, for example: their newest albums are a whole different beast to their first, barely legible couple of platters. So it is for Decapitated. Anticult really marks their full on departure from technical death metal – hell, in quite a lot of places, I really don’t think they sound all that death metal at all. They’ve got a groove-laden take on the heavier side of modern metal, for sure, but there’s more here in common with the likes of modern Sepultura or Lamb of God than there is with, say, Vader. Again, that’s not altogether a bad thing. When the intro stomp of stand-out track “Kill the Cult” erupts through the headphones, it’s pretty hard to begrudge their move into memorable, if not overly complicated, modern metal. Huge slabs of riffs are the building blocks of the attack, and while the drumming throughout the entire album is absolutely killer, the song structures themselves are pretty straight forward. You’re not going to be finding anything here that’s going to be knocking on the door of “progressive”.

“Chuggy” is the adjective I’d most apply to the album, with huge, anthemic sections of fairly straight forward but entirely infectious music being blasted through a tremendously powerful and polished production. Many of the tracks here would go down an absolute blast at the metal festival of your choice, and make for some none-too-taxing, but altogether engaging listening. There’s actually a bit of a gap in the market for a band who can produce something like this, without coming off as a slightly weaker version of their forebears. There’s plenty of originality here – and while the basic formula of pressure-and-release mid-tempo chug-chug might not be about to worry any avant-garde merchants out there, their particular spin on it is satisfying and, as one might expect with a band with such accomplished musicians – executed perfectly.

All in all then, the newest incarnation of Decapitated has more or less shed their death metal stylings, and sprinted headlong into more mainstream territory, with only a few artefacts of their past life on display. I reckon that’s ok. It’s a catchy listen, but it’ll be amazing live. Guaranteed.

(7/10 Chris Davison)