Words: Alan Daly
Pics: © Olga Kuzmenko Photography
The perfect way to man-up after a soppy night of Valentine’s romance must surely be a dose of technical death metal, and tonight, the duty of delivery is in the dextrous and determined hands of Decapitated. The Voodoo Lounge on Arran Quay is the surprisingly intimate setting for what has been a hugely anticipated return to Dublin by the pitiable Poles. Picking themselves up from the floor once again, they have continued touring to prove that what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger
It’s nearly 7 pm when we arrive after shaking off the shackles of the working week, and we’re greeted by the sizeable crowd that has already gathered in time to catch Danish five-piece Baest deliver their Dublin debut. Formed in 2015, the Danes released their first full-length album Danse Macabre last August and are already poised to unleash their as-yet-untitled sophomore release later this year. While proudly proclaiming influences like Obituary, Death and Iron Maiden on their shirts, their brutally heavy music is as much inspired by Scandinavian traditions as those old-school legends of metal. Their set is comprised of a half dozen tracks from their rising repertoire including crowd-pleasers ‘Hecatomb’ and ‘Crosswhore’ as well as the title track of the 2006 EP ‘Marie Magdalene’. The pummelling performance is deservedly well received by tonight’s attendees who are primed for two more death metal dignitaries.
Next up are English trio Dyscarnate, who formed in 2004 and along with Baest, are joining this tour for all of the UK and Ireland dates. Their performance starts with drummer Matt Unsworth alone on stage for the intro to ‘Of Mice and Mountains’, the opening number on their 2017 release With All Their Might, before bandmates Tom Whitty and Al Llewellyn join him and all hell breaks loose. The pair share vocal duties and effectively alternate between screams and growls, while lashing out more riffs and rhythms than one might reasonably expect from their combined total of eleven strings. They quickly transition into ‘Cain Enable’ from their sophomore full-length album And So It Came to Pass, prompting shirt-shedding from eager occupants of the increasingly turbulent pit. Their eight-track set is unsurprisingly comprised mostly of stompers from their newest album With All Their Might, mixed in with a few from its afore-mentioned predecessor. They’re the perfect support for tonight’s headliner, but we’d love to see these lads cross the Irish sea again soon for their own show. Don’t let Brexit put you off!
Many feared that we would not get another opportunity to witness Decapitated performing in Dublin, but tonight, the Voodoo Lounge is filled to capacity with excited and enthusiastic fans, ready to lose their heads (see what I did there?) for the Polish quartet. With a large population of their fellow countrymen and women living in Ireland, it’s no surprise to hear indecipherable chants coming from the crowd as the lights dim. I can’t be certain, but I suspect the words were light-hearted swearing. A massive cheer erupts as founding guitarist “Vogg” takes to the stage along with long-time vocalist “Rasta” Piotrowski and bassist Hubert Wiecek. Currently filling in on drumming duties since the recent departure of Michal Lysejko is James Stewart of Vader. From the opening thundering drums and synthesized notes of ‘One Eyed Nation’, the mosh pit opens up and the head-banging begins. Between verses of barked lyrics, frontman Rasta whips his knee-length dreads back and forth; it’s a wonder he doesn’t take an eye out in the tiny venue.
The setlist continues with two more from their hugely successful 2017 album Anticult, in ‘Deathvaluation’ and the anthemic ‘Kill The Cult’, an infectiously catchy instant classic. Everyone knows the track and need little encouragement from Rasta to go crazy. Aside from the guitars sounding a little low in the mix at times, Decapitated sound incredible live and deliver a deafeningly diverse dose of tracks covering all seven of their studio albums. Deep-diving back to their debut and sophomore release for encore tracks ‘Spheres of Madness’ and ‘Winds of Creation’, they depart unceremoniously, leaving the exhausted crowd content and captivated.
Hopefully Decapitated will regain any momentum they may have lost since the release of undoubtedly their strongest and most accessible offering to date, and put all of the emotional turmoil into writing and releasing another belter of an album very soon. Until then, Anticult will be on heavy rotation in my playlist.