Dekapitator - The Storm Before The Calm
Relapse Records
Thrash Metal
9 songs (39:55)
Release year: 2007
Dekapitator, Relapse Records
Reviewed by Dylan
Everyone loves throwbacks, right? Well…”love” may not be the most accurate word for a band like Dekapitator. What we have here is a band that holds Bonded By Blood, and all the other essential thrash classics of the 80’s, in the highest regard. Everything about their sound, image, and presentation is evident of their love of the 80’s and of their irreverence for everything since then. Formed as a side project from the death metal band, Exhumed (note: not the Swedish death metal pioneers, but an American band that merely shares the same name), they also let a few death metal influences seep in. so with that, let it be known that Dekapitator exist in one dimension, and that is hard, relentless thrash.

Starting out oddly but effectively, The Storm Before The Calm opens with the longest song on the album. It’s mainly a mid-paced call-to-arms of thrash metal, containing several short but deliciously wicked solos. Vocalist Matt “Hellfiend” has one voice on the album, which can best be described as a mix of Obituary’s John Tardy and the late Paul Baloff of Exodus fame. It’s a suiting fit to the music, but gets a bit grating towards the last tracks of the album. However, I digress. As any metalhead worth his leather pants will tell you, every quality thrash metal band lives and dies by the riffs in their songs and guitarists D. Attacker and Matt "Hellfiend" know this. Aside from a few melodic exceptions, when they aren’t downstroking or galloping, they are using tremolo to remind you of the influence that giants such as Slayer, Exodus, and Death Angel still have after all these years. There are traces of a Kirk Hammet-like style to some of the leads, and I’m still trying to find the Megadeth riff that found its way in the beginning of Run With The Pack, but for the most part, these guys wear the logos of heavier bands on their sleeves.

There isn’t really a weak track to be found on this album, with the shockingly melodic and almost calming instrumental Eye of the Storm being a highlight. Aside from that instrumental, the rigid uniformity of the riff structures and vocal patterns bring classics like Reign In Blood, The Ultra-Violence and Bonded By Blood to mind. However, what made those albums what they were, and still are, is due in part to their energy, but more importantly, their timing. There is next to nothing as far as the originality of Dekapitator’s music is concerned. Most of the riffs are good, but it seems like they are just slight variations of each other. The first half of the album is without question the strongest, causing the last half to seemingly run together. Although they don’t do it often, when the band chooses to slow down a bit, it makes the faster parts seem faster. The title track and The Call To Combat are perfect examples of this. However, songs like Toxic Sanctuary and Deathstrike Command sound too similar to stand out on their own.

The one category that they have one-upped the thrashers of old is in production values. Most albums from the 80’s sound quiet and tinny by today’s slick and thick standards, but The Storm Before The Calm manages to doge this unfortunate characteristic. I doubt that The Storm Before The Calm ever came into contact with pro-tools, but the record sounds like a much louder version of an old album. The drums and bass, while having some breathing room, definitely take a backseat to the razor-sharp guitars and disgusted vocals. This end result is a very natural sound that adds to the album’s overall quality.

Because Dekapitator hones in on one sound so narrowly, I feel like this is one of those albums you have to be in the mood for. Some fans and critics are hailing this as the thrash metal album of the year, and they may have some merit in that argument. Still, 2006 saw some higher quality outputs in this reviewer’s opinion, namely Sodom’s self-titled comeback, and Reckless Tide’s Helleraser. One thing to keep in mind is that Dekapitator is aiming at a niche audience. Those who still headbang to old-school thrash day in and day out should pick this up without hesitation, while the rest of us who definitely enjoy it, but don’t live by it, should measure how much we revere the classics before picking this one up.
Killing Songs :
The Storm Before The Calm, The Call To Combat, and Eye of the Storm.
Dylan quoted 78 / 100
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There are 14 replies to this review. Last one on Sat Oct 27, 2007 6:08 am
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