Winds of Creation

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In the dark, murky realm of death metal, perhaps no band is more worthy of taking hold Excalibur's hilt and leading the next charge down the mountain into fiery oblivion than Poland's Decapitated, and one need look no further for proof than on the band's 2000 debut, Winds of Creation. Much has been made of the band's supposed "tender" age (the average age of the members was around 18 when Winds of Creation was released), and in fact, early on, they were slighted from the respect they would have otherwise been due because of this; however, it must be remembered that a certain gruff-throated, engine-wristed young vocalist/guitarist for another certain popular metal band was only 18 when his band's debut, Kill 'Em All, was released, and needless to say, as is the case here, tender had nothing to do with it. Ironically, in the eyes of many metal fans, Winds of Creation is almost as much of an astonishingly groundbreaking album as Kill 'Em All was in its day. To begin with, the band has a seemingly effortless understanding and command of both their instruments and death metal's highly stylistic requirements. The mind-bendingly blistering technical virtuosity would be amazing in a group of older musicians, much less for a band of teenagers, and better yet, they refrain from slipping into the routine, over-the-top expediency so common in their genre; the guys in Decapitated truly seem committed to getting death metal out of its then current rut and taking it to another level. Plus, the songwriting is extremely solid; even in the first listen, songs such as the manically frenzied "Blessed" and the beautifully haunting "Dance Macabre" stand out and away from the strange dissonance of "The First Damned" and the call-and-response riffage of "Nine Steps." The band even found time to throw in a cover of Slayer's "Mandatory Suicide" that somehow seems better than the original. All in all, this is essential material for death metal fans and anyone curious about the possible future of the genre. Unfortunately, death metal doesn't have a high rate of success for winning over new fans from outside the gates of its own wayward domain; it's one of those things with no gray area that divides people in a furious way -- you either love it or hate it, and if you hate it, then expect a serious thrashing if you so much as try to sneak in through the back door. However, if any album could be capable of converting naysayers into fans, Decapitated's Winds of Creation is definitely a contender.

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