Released: 2006, Earache Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Poland’s Decapitated released what may be the pinnacle of their career with 2004’s THE NEGATION. Encompassing the most brutal elements of death metal and adding in technically-proficient musicianship, that album stands as a landmark in modern metal. When vocalist Sauron announced his departure from the band in 2005 (and several months later, bassist Martin left for military reasons), it seemed that the chemistry would be lost. Ex-Atrophia Red Sun vocalist Adrian Kowanek (AKA Covan) was brought in to fill Sauron’s shoes on the band’s latest release, ORGANIC HALLUCINOSIS, and while the new album fails to reach the heights of THE NEGATION, it is a viable entry into the band’s catalogue. There seems to be a loose concept running through the album about an imprisoned man who has computerized gadgetry implanted in his head to prolong existence once his organic life fades and considering this is death metal, whose usual focus is on suffering, Armageddon and/or bloodshed, the weighty subject matter instantly adds some credence to Decapitated’s songwriting skills. At the very basics, though, the album is chalk full of inhuman blastbeats and double bass, dizzying guitar work and throat-shredding vocals which manage to carry the flag of Decapitated into the next phase of their career in just under a rather tidy 33 minutes.
Vogg’s piercing riffs and Vitek’s machine-like drumming on “A Poem About An Old Prison Man” allay any fears right off the bat. Simply crushing in their heaviness, Decapitated mixes things up here, shifting gears from a full-bore blasting assault to a rather gloomy ending. “Day 69” allows Vitek to unleash a drum solo that borders on Flo Mournier’s blend of speed and progression. Likewise on “Post (?) Organic,” Witek’s trampling drums are matched with Vogg’s cutting, staccato riffs and things veer towards a unique blend of progressive Death and discordant Meshuggah. “Invisible Control” is the true testament to Vitek’s prominence as an extreme metal drummer with a merciless workout on double bass. Vogg’s riffing is also razor-sharp and Covan’s roars get the job done but by this point, they seem oddly one-dimensional. Not that Sauron was a versatile vocalist but he did manage to bring subtle changes of pitch and timbre that Covan lacks, whereas the new vocalist brings a clearer enunciation to the songs, so it really is a matter of vocal style preference rather than ability. The other negative is the length—or rather lack thereof—of the album. At 33 minutes, ORGANIC HALLUCINOSIS could easily be called an EP by today’s standards (I know…REIGN IN BLOOD was only 28 minutes) and the fact that the label is charging full price ($19 in my case) for an album this short is criminal.
Unfortunately, Earache Records seemed to release ORGANIC HALLUCINOSIS and then drop it like a hot potato with little to no promotion, fanfare or advertising. Rumors circulated that label problems and the lineup changes had something to do with it but for any latecomers who didn’t even realize Decapitated had a new album out, this smartly-written and even better played release is a slap in the face to anyone who wrote the band off. Creatively, this album sees Decapitated at its peak but Covan is no Sauron and the vocals are clearly the weak spot here. Still, when faced with adversity, Decapitated has clearly pulled through and delivered another killer slice of jaw-droppingly technical, yet brutal, death metal.
KILLER KUTS: “Day 69,” “Post (?) Organic,” “Invisible Control”