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Decapitated at the 10th edition of the OFF Festival in Katowice, 2015, photo by Dawid Chalimoniuk / Agencja Gazeta
Decapitated at the 10th edition of the OFF Festival in Katowice, 2015, photo by Dawid Chalimoniuk / Agencja Gazeta

Decapitated is one of the most recognized Polish metal bands worldwide, founded in 1996 in Krosno by two teenage brothers.

The band Decapitated was formed in December 1996 in Krosno, a town in the Subcarpathian Voivodeship, Poland, by brothers Wacław ‘Vogg’ Kiełtyka (on guitar) and Witold ‘Vitek’ Kiełtyka (on drums), as well as the vocalist Wojciech ‘Sauron’ Wąsowicz. A year later, the line up of the group was completed by bassist Marcin ‘Martin’ Rygiel. Until 2007, Decapitated released four studio albums and played innumerable concerts on several continents. At the end of 2007, Witold Kiełtyka, the band's drummer, died in a tragic car accident. The band reformed in 2009.

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Adolescent beginnings

In 1997 they recorded their first demo, Cemeteral Gardens, which met with great popularity among the members of the music underground (although many avid metal fans were indignant about the adolescent age of the performers). What set Decapitated apart from the rest of the metal musicians was their musical education. The elder of the two Kiełtyka brothers, Wacław, graduated from an accordion class at a music academy, while Witold Kiełtyka and Marcin Rygiel both graduated from a secondary school for music, where they attended classical guitar and piano classes. This greatly influenced the complexity of their first compositions; it is audible on their second demo, The Eye of Horus, following which they signed a contract with the Massive Management company (associated with another Polish metal legend, the band Vader).

First record, first tours

In 1999, the group recorded their first début album (Winds of Creation) in Olsztyn's Selani Studio in collaboration with Piotr Wiwczarek (the vocalist and guitarist of Vader and a music producer), releasing it in May 2000 through Earache Records; the record was well received by the audience and music critics alike. The Metal Maniacs magazine described the group as the hope of death metal, while the publication Terrorizer dubbed their album the best début of 2000.

They have not escaped the patterns borrowed from their idols, but they rock so hard that it really is a pleasure to listen to them. World class slaughter.
– wrote Maciej Kierzkowski for the Machina music monthly.

In the same year, Metal Mind Productions released a compilation of demo recordings (The First Damned). The CD also contained two live tracks recorded at the 2000 Thrash'em All Festival. In August, the band went on a short concert tour in England – Grind Your Mind Tour 2000, together with the band Lock Up; and they also did a European tour with the groups Immolation, Deranged, Deströyer 666, and Soul Demise, as well as played a number of concerts in Poland with Trauma and Vader.

In 2001, the group recorded their next album, Nihility, this time in the Białystok-based Hertz Studio. The record was released in early 2002 by Earache Records. Soon after its premiere, the musicians played at the Ozzfest festival in Katowice, besides such bands as Tool, Slayer, and Ozzy Osbourne. In autumn, Decapitated played a tour of 40 concerts with Vader, Krisiun, and Prejudice. In summer 2003 the band recorded its third album titled The Negation, promoted through concerts taking place, among others, in Great Britain.

In 2005, Wojciech ‘Sauron’ Wasowicz, the band's vocalist for many years, left the group and was succeeded by Adrian ‘Covan’ Kowanek, an artist associated with the band Atrophia Red Sun. The band appeared with the new vocalist at Kaltenbach Open Air in Austria, and played seven concerts as part of the Sesnsual Sickness Tour (together with Gorerotted, Detonation, and Dam). They also performed in the United States during the Blitzkrieg 3 American Tour (with Vader and Dew-Scented), as well as headlined in Canada (with Neuraxis). In summer 2005, the group again entered the Białystok's Hertz Studio to start working on the new album titled Organic Hallucinosis. Decapitated's fourth album appeared in February 2006; the band made its tracks available on the label's official website before the CD release, which at the time was a bold marketing move. The album's opening song – A Poem About an Old Prison Man – featured lyrics written by Charles Manson in 1984. The cover artwork for Organic Hallucinosis was created by the Greek graphic designer and painter Seth Siro Anton, who'd previously worked with the groups Paradise Lost and Rotting Christ.

Tragic accident

On 29th October, 2007, the musicians from the bands Decapitated and Crionics were in a serious road accident on their way to Gomel in Belarus – their bus hit a truck transporting timber. Witold Kiełtyka and Adrian Kowanek were heavily injured. Kiełtyka died on 1st November, at the age of twenty-three. His death reverberated throughout the metal scene, and charity concerts were organised worldwide, for example in Kraków, Warsaw, Paris, London, and Los Angeles, featuring such bands as Vader, Behemoth, Hate, Frontside, Akercocke, Delight, NYIA, and Virgin Snatch. 

On 8th March, 2009, Wacław Kiełtyka announced the band's comeback on their official MySpace profile. Decapitated was joined by the Austrian drummer Kerim ‘Krimh’ Lechner (known from Thorns of Ivy and Mondstille), as well as the bassist Filip “Heinrich” Hałucha (previously in in Vesania, Rootwater, and UnSun), and the vocalist Rafał Piotrowski (member of Keth and Forgotten Souls).

I'd never met Vitek in person, I didn't even see the old line-up live. I only know him from the stories of my friends and family, what kind of person he was, besides being an excellent musician. Every day I read YouTube comments about how much people loved his playing in the old Decapitated. […] So I didn't have too much trouble with his style, only a few transitions and tricks were mysterious. I like to improvise a lot and play differently at each concert. Of course the base structure stays the same, but I try to play the rest in the way I feel like in a given moment.
– Krimh, the new drummer, said.


Carnival is Forever

Decapitated at the 10th edition of the OFF Festival in Katowice, 2015, photo by Dawid Chalimoniuk / Agencja Gazeta
Decapitated at the 10th edition of the OFF Festival in Katowice, 2015, photo by Dawid Chalimoniuk / Agencja Gazeta

The premiere of Decapitated's fifth album, Carnival is Forever, took place on 12th July, 2011. The lyrics to all songs were written by Jarosław Szubrycht, a journalist and vocalist of the band Lux Occulta. The record reached eleventh place on the Billboard Top Heatseekers list in the USA, selling 2,100 copies within a week from its premiere. They promoted the album at summer festivals as well as during concerts in the US. A year later, Decapitated played as a support for the quintet Meshuggah during a tour in Europe and United States (The Ophidian Trek).

In 2014, they released Blood Mantra through Mystic Productions. It was the band's first album recorded with the new drummer Michał Łysejko, known from the bands Morowe and Melechesh.

Decapitated is able to play in a surprisingly simple manner, like in the motoric Veins, but can also start with almost southern-rock-like riffs, to then hit more thrashy regions (the title track). References to classic metal in Nest, filled with space and melody, meet pretty mathcore-like progressions, while in Instinct this combination is further enhanced by a groove in the style of Pantera. Then there is the psychedelic, ear-drilling Blindness and the atmospheric outro Red Sun… and we have an impressive album!
–  as Sebastian Rerak described Decapitated's LP.

transl. AM, January 2016

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Filip Lech
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