Decapitated - LIVE: Dingwalls, London 2012

The Decimation of Europe Tour II
February 26
Capacity 490

It is with some surprise that, prior to the show, Decapitated guitarist Vogg mentions that the band's headline show in Camden has only sold around a hundred tickets in the pre-sales. Given the band's general notoriety – and a very well received comeback album in Carnival Is Forever – it is surprising to hear the gig has sold so few tickets ahead of the show. However even before the opening band has played, it looks evident that tonight will have a respectable turnout. The odd layout of Dingwalls doesn't make it always clear, especially as much of the audience is hanging out at the back near the bar, but overall attendance was good even if it didn't sell out.

Opening band The HAARP Machine do leave a lot to be desired. Signed to Sumerian records, and talked about in more modern and 'trendy' metal websites, the band don't really add anything new to the table. Their version of metal has a very American polish, with odd bits of clean vocals to appear 'progressive'. It's distinctly average and unremarkable, and a fairly static response shows the crowd agree.

Main support band Aborted, on the other hand, get anything but a static response. Arguably Belgium's best known metal export, the band could easily be considered co-headliners given the amount of positive response they get from the very full looking crowd. Impossibly tight and exceedingly aggressive, the band have the crowd at their finger tips as they blast through cut after cut of loud, noisy and powerful death metal. There were certainly many in the crowd here just for Aborted, and it is easy to see why.

Given Decapitated have sounded more progressive with every release, it would not be too much of a shock if some of the edge was lost when the band played live. Thankfully this is not the case, and even after the immense sound of Aborted before them, Decapitated still manage to win over the crowd with their progressive and technical death metal. New singer Rafal 'Rasta' Piotrowski, with his large head of dreadlocked hair, certainly makes for an imposing frontman – at the same time, he manages to perform the band's older material well. Certainly Decapitated's early years sound very different with the new vocal style, but tracks like Post(?) Organic from Organic Hallucinosis are delivered almost as if he were the original singer.

There are some touching moments, from both band and audience alike. When Rasta – who has been performing in a 'Covan Wake The Fuck Up' t-shirt throughout the set – talks about his predecessor's condition, it is met with frantic, impassioned and supportive cheering and the chanting of Vitek's name from the crowd. The band also took the time to announce they would be holding a benefit concert for their critically injured former member at The Underworld.

Otherwise, the new Decapitated are a tight unit. The set did seem rather short, and overall they perhaps don't have the monstrousness of Aborted before them. However their music still remains brutal if restrained, having a unique feel that seems to be crossing the border from technical death metal into something more universal. With the current line-up's tight musicianship and Rasta's excellent stage presence, it is not surprising at all that the band have managed to pull in so many despite what seemed like a weak pre-sale beforehand. Hopefully the band's benefit concert will be a sell out show.

“ an imposing frontman ”

Setlist: The Knife / Day 69 / Pest / United / Post(?) Organic / Mother War / Homo Sum / 404 / Winds of Creation / A View From A Hole / Sphere of Madness // The First Damned

Written by James Donovan
More: 2012, Death Metal, Gigs,

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