Decapitated - _Nihility_
by: Paul Schwarz (
Toppling bands from the pedestals you feel they have been wrongly placed on by others, is often a satisfying thing to do. In cases where these "others" are a mainstream magazine who seem to elect, rather than carefully -select-, a band from the underground to be their new 'hot tip' every now and again, there's even a feeling of 'setting the record straight'. But you have to abstract yourself; you can't blame a band for the over-hype that others give them; venting personal frustrations or pursuing personal vendettas at the expense of actually trying to engage with and critically appraise the music which is, at its heart, the subject of their review, is the most shameful of traps for a journalist, a -critic-, to fall into -- though it is also one of the most common. In Decapitated's case more than most, it would also be a shameful injustice, for this is a band who -do not- get above themselves, despite the fact that they are openly offered the chance to. Decapitated are a humble bunch -- that's why, at first, it feels mean and unnecessary to topple them from their current press perch, in the UK at least, as the new future, the new rebirth, of death metal. But then, honesty -is- the best policy, and death metal -- at its true core, that core that has lived on, handed down through a fluctuating handful of bands over the years -- is all about honesty. So I'll be honest. Decapitated's second album is good -- it's -way- above average -- but it just isn't by any means -great-. It's not technical ability that is lacking; Decapitated, though young, are among the most technically proficient musicians to ever play death metal. What is really lacking though, is songwriting ability and -edge-. The riffs on _Nihility_ certainly can be tricky -- often helping unbalance already-mutated percussion-work, and not rarely spiraling into unexpectedly complex and intricate shapes -- but they're just not all that excellent: they just don't quite hit the spot. All the instrumental work is technically impeccable, often impressive and occasionally attention-grabbing, but the result is not truly -addictive-. Decapitated just don't fuse into a single, inexorable entity like a brutal, aggressive death metal like themselves should. The musical elements present are crudely brought together, and there is a serious overall feeling of separation -- not aided (though also not originated in) a powerful-but-dry production. At present, only -one- individual element is in need of serious improvement: Sauron's vocals. They may be brutal -- and impressive, if not harmonised -- but they are almost completely without character -- and character is something Decapitated definitely need more of in their music. The snapshot this album offers may be disappointing for those who hoped that Decapitated would leap and bound out of the starting gate and flatten the death metal scene in one fail swoop -- but this isn't to suggest that many outside that same scene's uppers echelons today can make albums as good as _Nihility_. That alone is a mighty accolade for a -young- band comprised by a -young- group of musicians to earn. Decapitated have plenty of time to grow -- they're not gonna be 'past it' for a long time yet -- but I think concentrating on writing cohesive, encapsulating death metal songs, while worrying less about utilising technical ability, would do them the world of good -- and make them into so much more than, as yet, they are.
(article published 3/7/2002)
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