Decapitated + Signs Of The Swarm + Harbinger + Casket Feeder @ MK11 Venue, Milton Keynes – 7th April 2022


Despite its strange location (in the middle of an industrial estate) MK11 is a great little venue and its design is conducive to great sound and it’s one Casket Feeder put to great use. This quintet isn’t here to waste time and, bathed in blood red light, they get straight down to business. The very epitome of crossover they’re part death metal, part metalcore and tracks such as ‘Wormwood’ go straight for the throat. Latest single ‘Vulture Culture’ goes down particularly well and marks Casket Feeder as future headliners.

Formed in London in 2015 Harbinger peddle a nice line in brutal death metal that places strong emphasis on groove. However, there’s plenty of techy bits to keep things interesting and in many ways, they remind me of New York stalwarts Suffocation insofar as they constantly throw the listener in a hex. They’ll thrash along at a neck snapping pace then suddenly introduce earth trembling moments that shake the venue to its very core. With a hyperactive frontman they really can’t go wrong and their definitely ones to watch.

Signs Of The Swarm’s singer David Simonich has been taken ill and is unable to perform tonight so the band, rather stoically, perform as a trio, and sans vocalist. Obviously, the absence of Simonich leaves a big hole but the songs, performed instrumentally, unveil lots of hidden nuances. The band haven’t travelled all the way from Pittsburgh to take prisoners and Bobby Crow reveals himself as a beast behind the kit and delivers some serious kick drums during ‘Hymns Ov Invocation’ while Jeff Russo pulls some impossible sounds from his guitar during ‘Death Whistle’ (from 2021’s critically acclaimed album Absolvere) and finds the guys departing to some well-earned, and rapturous applause.

The word legendary is nowadays thrown around with reckless abandon but in the case of Polish death metal masters Decapitated it happens to be perfectly apt. Since their formation in 1996 they’ve been a band in constant evolution and have incorporated groove, thrash, tech and progressive elements into their sound while releasing some era defining albums along the way. Tonight’s gig is the final night of a tour celebrating their 25th anniversary and they’re primed to deliver a career-spanning set but first Metallica’s ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ blasts out of the PA and its ominous chiming sets the perfect tone. When the band hit the stage to the opening chords of ‘Cancer Culture’ (title track of their forthcoming album) it’s like a finely tuned engine with the throttle opened wide. Vocalist Rafał Piotrowski is a sea of swirling dreadlocks and the band a gang of whirling dervishes which makes for an intense spectacle, but surely that’s the only way to experience a Decapitated concert?

As you’d expect from a band who’ve been in the game for a quarter-of-a-century Decapitated waste little time on banter between songs, preferring to deliver juggernaut punch after juggernaut punch. The rapidity with which these brutal songs are unleashed makes them all the more fervid and when they let loose ‘Lying And Weak’ things get really interesting as a circle pit opens up centre stage which becomes a white water canoe ride during ‘Names’. Two from 2006’s Organic Hallucinosis follow in the shape of ‘Post(?)Organic’ and ‘Day 69’, both of which become more extreme in the live environment, before they bring out Ben Sutherland (from Harbinger) for a ferocious run-through of ‘Kill The Cult’. We started this set with a brand-new cut so it’s only fitting that were taken back to the band’s genesis for closer ‘Nine Steps’. Originally appearing on their 1999 debut Winds Of Creation ‘Nine Steps’ makes for a fitting finale and ensures no one leaves disappointed. Here’s to the next 25 years!

Decapitated Set List:

1. Cancer Culture
2. Pest
3. Mother War
4. Carnival Is Forever
5. Lying And Weak
6. Babylon’s Pride
7. Earth Scar
8. The Blasphemous Psalm To The Dummy God Creation
9. Names
10. Post(?)Organic
11. Day 69
12. Nihility
13. Never
14. Kill The Cult
15. Spheres Of Madness
16. Nine Steps