Decapitated – Getting Their Groove OnThursday, 25th September 2014
Decapitated is a band that has had to deal with more than their fair share of tragedy. The young band exploded onto the scene back in 2000 with Winds of Creation, and pushed out Nihility and The Negation to much fanfare with their technically driven death metal. But a year after 2006’s Organic Hallucinosis, the band was involved in an automobile accident while on tour, which cost drummer Witold “Vitek” Kieltyka his life and placed vocalist Adrian “Coven” Kowanek in a coma. A few years later (in 2011), the band was on board a plane, which experienced a technical issue that would not allow them to lower their wheels. The plane successfully landed, but adds up to another brush with death that the band has had to deal with. So what keeps Decapitated going then? According to mainman/guitarist Waclaw “Vogg” Kieltyka, “It’s playing music and being in a band. [Being in a band] is everything I’ve dreamed about since I was a young metalhead. I love to play, that’s the main thing.”
Furthering issues with the band in more recent years, there have been a number of line-up changes since the band reformed and released 2011’s Carnival is Forever. Drummer Krimh and bassist Heinrich both exited the band thereafter, with Pawet Pasek joining in 2012 on bass, and Michal Lysejko rounding out the band earlier this year on drums. Vogg states, “This is the best line-up we’ve had since the reunion. Everything is going well with [the new members]. It feels great to play together and we are ready to go out on tours.”
This brings us, of course, to the new album Blood Mantra. In true Decapitated form, it once again brings some changes to the band, yet retains the feeling of Decapitated. “I never think about Decapitated in the way that we will play ‘one thing’ and never change. Every album is a little bit different, which is starting to be a bit of a tradition for us. Everything changes: our influences, our instruments, and we’ve done many tours over the last three years. We’ve done tours with really nice bands like Meshuggah, Aborted, Lamb of God, and Children of Bodom. It would be hard to do the same production and songwriting all of the time. It’s evolution; it’s natural for us to change.” In light of all of these tours, it seemed fitting to ask how they have influenced Vogg’s songwriting. “One of the main things that influence me as a musician the most is to be on tour with other bands. Spending two or three months with bands on tour, I listen to these guys and I talk with these guys. When you come back home and try to do new stuff, whether you want it to or not, sometimes you begin to sound like the bands you tour with.
In comparing Blood Mantra to Carnival is Forever, Vogg adds, “It’s different: different production, different sound, different songwriting. Everything is different but you can hear that it is still Decapitated. I’m the main composer so that doesn’t change; I composed 100% of music for the new album. I did the drums, guitars, and even vocal lines. Carnival was a wild album, very fast and aggressive. This one is more ‘calmed down.’ There are two songs that are really death metal songs [“Exiled in Flesh, “The Blasphemous Psalm to the Dummy God Creation”]; the next ones are a bit more groovy and new for us. We’ve never done this kind of stuff before, and I’m really happy because I’m sure it will be great live. It will be awesome to mix those new songs together with our other songs.”
Further elaborating on the catchiness of the new songs, “I’ve been starting to think more about playing live. What we do is mainly for playing live. The new songs are a bit easier to play but it sounds really good; it doesn’t have to be about showing how good you are on guitar. We’ve already proven that we can play, and we can be really fast. To take a chance to present something that would be fresh and make it catchy too, that was the challenge for me [with Blood Mantra].”
One of the more intriguing tracks on Blood Mantra is the closing song, “Red Sun,” an ambient piece that offers some reprieve after the pummeling of the first seven tracks. “It is kind of an outro, not a 100% song. It has an atmosphere that takes you away when you finish the album and you want to relax. [In regards to] the title, I have this room when I write in my house upstairs, I saw a red sun going down and thought I could name it something like that.” But is it foreseeable that the band could continue down this road in the future? “Whether we could continue this way, I don’t know. I like to have different songs on the album, so you don’t know what to expect from the next song. I am thinking about the next album already, I think I want to do something like Lamb of God’s album. Short and straight on, like a half-hour, where every song would be just kicking ass. This album has a lot of atmospheric moments, especially towards the end, and maybe it’s time to just do a ‘kick ass’ album.”
The band is now set to begin the touring cycle for Blood Mantra, and their first stop is here in the United States, where they will accompany Gwar. Vogg concludes, “After the Gwar tour, we are going to a headlining tour in Poland. Then we will be going to the UK for six shows, and then back to Poland for three more headlining shows, including our hometown. It will be busy but we are looking forward to these shows. We’ve spent so much time in the studio, we want to get on the stage and kick ass, especially with the new songs.”