We've got a hell of a matchup today, friends: stoner metal wunderkinder Elder and Polish death metal band (and former Arsies winners!) Decapitated. As a reminder, there are no real losers here at the Arsies, and both these albums are excellent. That said, who am I to pass up a chance to pass judgment?
Let's start things off with Elder's Reflections Of A Floating World. On this album, the band sound like a bayou-borne Pink Floyd-loving improvement over Baroness, and I mean that in the best way possible. Theirs is a sound that is immersive, interesting, and intoxicating in a way that six ten-minute songs rarely pull off. Also, there's enough keyboards strewn throughout to make me wonder if "progressive" is a dirty word around here (do I detect a Mellotron?)
On the other hand, there's Decapitated. Their latest, Anticult, is a blistering workout. It represents a further shift of their strategy: away from pure technical death metal and toward a more groove-oriented aggression. The result is heavy and tight riff salad tempered only by the occasional quiet intro or mid-song breather. This is a band that has clearly made their bones via endless touring, often at great personal cost. Their commitment to the merciless moshpit is in every track on the album, and while I have a hard time pointing at anything like the few instant classic tunes that you'll find on Carnival Is Forever, I have an equally hard time calling anything filler. The Elder is excellent. But Anticult is just excellenter. Decapitated win today by a nose!
Whew! We're halfway through with the first round of competition. Tomorrow, we crack open the other side of the bracket, with Fleshkiller vs The Black Dahlia Murder.