For the most part, it’s difficult to swallow a traditional death metal record after spilling ink on the genre and its minions for nearly 10 years. You get to the point where little impresses and you’d rather revert to spinning Left Hand Path than plunk another derivative of a derivative into the stereo. Really, besides insipid dance music, death metal has to be the one of the most prolific music forms. If you were too busy swinging on Deeds Of Flesh’s nuts to hear these wonderkids nail a wicked tight blend of Morbid Angel and Slayer on 2000’s Winds of Creation, you get what you deserve. In fact, if you scoffed at that last sentence, I’ll let you drag your knuckles a little while longer.

Two years later, Decapitated returns with line-up intact and their chops choppier, their tortuous riffs more tortuous. Even at one listen, Nihility is one of the most meticulously composed albums in death metal, past or present. Armed with one hell of a guitarist and a shotgun rhythm section, Decapitated unfailingly hammer through every cliché known to the genre yet the unparalleled conviction and dedication with which the album’s eight tracks are delivered is like a fresh injection of much-needed blood. From the opening track “Perfect Dehumanization (The Answer?)” to closer “Symmetry of Zero,” Decapitated live and breath death metal, studying and analyzing the greats with a near-scientific level of precision. Decapitated are deadly, and here’s why. “Perfect Dehumanization (The Answer?)” is full-throttle tech-death rendered into a seamless riff machine, showing guitarist Vogg has more up his sleeve than emulating licks from Morbid Angel or hometown heroes Vader. “Eternity Too Short” admirably follows suite, tempos, inhuman riffs and improv-like solos jutting out in defiance like a giant set of serrated teeth.

“Mother War” could be any cut off Winds of Creation if it wasn’t for the heightened compositional sense and complete mastery of death metal riffery, rivaling only Pestilence’s mighty milestone in Testimony of the Ancients. “Nihility (Anti-Human Manifesto),” on the other hand, is a pounding cut with a Cannibal Corpse-style swagger and a Malevolent Creation-style bloodied dagger. If ever a band sounded like sonic murder, it’s Decapitated. In this day in age it’s hard not to be affected by Morbid Angel, and “Names” could very well be a relative of Covenant’s authoritative approach, and the excellent solo at the 1:15 minute mark invokes some of Azagthoth’s more memorable note-centric forays. Then there’s “Spheres of Madness.” Easily Nihility’s standout track, “Spheres of Madness” is a crafty translation of Exodus’ early chug ‘n’ chop, modernized with a Meshuggah caliber production. “Babylon’s Pride” resembles the ceaseless hack ‘n’ slash volley of “Mother War” while album closer “Symmetry of Zero” merges the groove of Six Feet Under and the prowess of Cannibal Corpse, effectively leveling both bands in the first minute of two.

We can argue into infinity on which bands push our beloved genre of death to its creative or songwriting limits, but few in this day and age have what it takes to rival Decapitated’s unreal level of talent and penchant for writing rock-solid, dexterous music. I normally chide bands who wear what they are on their shirt sleeves, but for once it’s welcome to see a band marching around in such heraldry. Decapitated’s Nihility is by far not a classic, but there are certain elements in the album’s eight grinding, anfractuous tracks that signal a death metal staple is very close.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris Dick
April 23rd, 2002


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