Decapitated - Cancer Culture
Nuclear Blast
Death Metal
10 songs (37:09)
Release year: 2022
Decapitated, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

Times change and bands do too; this is now the fourth album that the new incarnation of Decapitated has produced without Witold "Vitek" Kiłtyka, equalling those of the 'classic' era in number if not quality. And with a stripped-down line-up that includes Vogg taking over all guitars and basswork alongside ongoing vocalist Rafał "Rasta" Piotrowski and new drummer James Murphy (ex-Vader), Cancer Culture would be something of a statement from the band even without that contentious, attention-seeking title. It speaks volumes that much of the online discourse on Decapitated's eighth full-length has been about said title and lyrics rather than musical value, for which the band can't entirely escape blame for choosing to write about such tiresome modern tropes as the internet and vaccinations. Do we all really need to take sides on culture war issues in metal now, as well as in every other facet of life? Is nowhere safe?

A shame for many reasons, not least that Cancer Culture itself has much to recommend it for fans of both eras of Decapitated. Modern groove and technical death are both catered for here, with even a little more emphasis given to the uneasy atmosphere that the band previously had attempted to half-heartedly conjure on past albums to middling results. From the start it's much closer to death metal than some groove hybrid, guitar riffs and excellent drumming from the underrated Murphy coming together well - the closest comparison is actually Vader rather than Decapitated, the likes of No Cure galloping along like the keenest piledrivers from the veteran act. For sure, there are worse bands to imitate, and Decapitated's classic brand of technical intensity isn't harmed by moving towards Vader's.

And there's enough meat on the bone here to keep things moving along briskly even ignoring the pair of experiments in the centre of the album, Jinjer's Tatiana Shmayluk guesting on Hello Death with clean female vocals in the better of the two to provide some light alongside Rasta's dark bellows. Quite how you feel about Robb Flynn of Machine Head providing clean singing to Iconoclast is another thing; his performance is decent enough (certainly the best thing Flynn has done in nearly a decade!) but the track errs on the side of modern stop-start grooviness and feels a little out of place on the album despite some excellent instrumentation, particularly from Murphy. Neither are remotely bad tracks by any means, even though Iconoclast would drag towards the bottom of the tracklisting regardless of Flynn's presence...

Yet the album recovers after that, like a ship shrugging off the impact of a particularly nasty wave; Suicidal Space Programme provides enough of the atmosphere that its name suggests before launching into techy aggression and melodic widdle, and the brief shock of Locked at just over a minute is matched in quality by the moody opening to Hours as Battlegrounds, before the closing Last Supper stomps in to provide a pulverising ending. It's a tight ending to a more than solid album, one that could easily have justified a running time of longer than the slim 37 minutes Decapitated allow themselves here. The band have honed their formula across four albums since 2007's accident brought their earlier era to a tragic end and although it's difficult to say that Cancer Culture is as big an improvement upon Anticult as it was on its predecessors, there are increasingly few flaws in Decapitated's take on modern death metal.

Killing Songs :
Cancer Culture, No Cure, Last Supper
Goat quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Decapitated that we have reviewed:
Decapitated - Anticult reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Decapitated - Blood Mantra reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Decapitated - Carnival Is Forever reviewed by Goat and quoted 79 / 100
Decapitated - Organic Hallucinosis reviewed by Dylan and quoted 87 / 100
Decapitated - Nihility reviewed by Jay and quoted 80 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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