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DECAPITATED : THE (ANTI)CULT CLASSIC

Decapitated. A name that inspires debate throughout the Metal world epitomising the classic old vs new. Taking the executive decision that enough was enough, the band called it a day after their horrendous accident. What would then follow was their triumphant, if different return in a triptych of albums. Introducing then new vocalist Rasta along with hired guns, a bond between Rasta and Vogg was formed. Rather than focusing on all out technicality the band was slowly moving to a more accessible, more groove oriented sound. After a successful touring cycle following Carnival Is Forever, the band returned record Blood Mantra. Originally a bitter pill to swallow, the pull of Blood Mantra might not have been instantaneous but was incredibly strong.

Leading us to June 2017. With the eve of the final piece of the puzzle looming, Decapitated are poised to become something bigger entirely than they more Extreme underling status of Earache years. Anticult, a focused, vital and truly visceral look at the world through the kaleidoscope of Decapitated is without a doubt one of the bands most focused efforts since the Death Metal classic, Organic Hallucinosis. Better yet though, it is the perfect assimilation of all that Decapitated stands for.

Sitting at home, slightly further across the pond is one Vogg Kieltyka. Upon answering the phone, I receive an email notifying me that Decapitated’s latest video for “Earth Scar” has gone live. The dial tone ends and I’m greeted by a friendly and excited Vogg, who is quick to tell me that the brand new video is up and we should all be checking it out! To hear the man so excited is positively music to my ears, having understood the tenacity that Vogg has given Decapitated over the years it seems that come July 7th it could well be paying off.

I’m spending time at home with the family, with my kids and we’ve just played Hellfest Festival in Europe and it was amazing lots of people came down and we did for the first time our single and it was amazing. Prepared for the next few festivals this summer, everyone is excited for the new album Anticult very soon and today we have the premiere of the new video for “Earth Scar”.

Not one to keep to the conventional, Vogg mentions regarding the video of “Earth Scar” they wanted to represent the more esoteric side to Decapitated. Known for their ferocious musical approach, a lesser known element is that the band take a rather more philosophical lyrical standpoint. Far more intriguing is this idea than the over the top, over done rehashing of the classic blood and guts Horror, Death Metal is known for.

We did a few changes with the video. Its all ready and right now I think that it will be online so after this interview I will check what is the reaction of people. Exciting, really cool video and different more epic in some way, not blood and all this Death Metal stuff. We try to escape from this this time, its getting boring. All of the Death Metal music seems to be kind of similar. One person makes a scenario for all of the videos. It fits for the lyrical aspect of the song and looks cool.

Now ten years since the announcement that the band would be reforming, Decapitated are a different entity entirely. Having almost caught up with their previous incarnation, the band have released three absolutely fantastic records which, unfairly get somewhat slated because of the attachment to the Decapitated name. However, the band have understood that perhaps their new sound is veering away from the classic entrapment of Death Metal and into something entirely, new and exciting itself altogether.

Its the truth that we have escaped a little bit from the classic Death Metal music. Which we preferred, especially in the beginning of Decapitated, still we’ve never been this kind of classic Death Metal band. There’s always been something progressive going on with Decapitated. It was very inspired by bands Deicide or Vader or Morbid Angel in the beginning, of course but we are always putting something fresh I think. That makes the music go forward in someway. We have more perspective, the whole Anticult album is a mixture of the different styles. I was always a fan of different Metal bands like Black Sabbath with Pantera, Slayer, Morbid Angel and Cannibal Corpse. Its all different stuff. For me its hard to concentrate on just Death Metal. I try to be open minded and try to just play Extreme Metal, whatever it is.

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Nevertheless a tiger cannot change its stripes as the saying goes. First listening to Anticult it was immediately apparent that this time around Decapitated were not messing around. Finding the same kind of pin point accuracy that has made their cult classic of Organic Hallucinosis such a fan favourite and arguably one of the most important modern Death Metal albums of the two thousands. On Anticult, the band channel this sense of absolute fury once more yet have seemingly understood exactly what Decapitated’s raison d’être is. Creating a synthesis of both old and new, the band have brought together what most would deem incomparable. The spirit that made this band such an exciting and truly visceral force to be reckoned with is back.

Some aspects of this album, especially the first song, its got bits from Organic Hallucinosis. There’s more energy going on than what the previous album was that was Blood Mantra which was maybe more Meshuggah influenced. This Anticult album, it has come back in a few riffs for the old Decapitated times. Songs like “Anger Line” or “One Eyed Nation” those two songs are more in this is heavy Death Metal atmosphere but “Impulse” the first song fits perfectly for Organic! It was like that kind of twisted Thrash and Death Metal riffs going on and that kind of energy we put into this song. Lots of things going on, that was one of the characteristics of the Organic Hallucinosis album. Lots of changes and lots of ideas. We could bring some new energy! Maybe I’m not that tired anymore, with the two new borns during the Blood Mantra process maybe it was more tired to make the songs more snappy. These days I have energy coming back again haha!

Decapitated - Anticult - Artwork

Wanting to forge forward the band scarcely look back, even if fans might always be looking in the rearview mirror. Questioning the problems of the world, thematically Anticult deals with lyrical ideas that could be seen as a continuation of Blood Mantra’s ideals. Rather than focus all their efforts on musical assault, instead now Decapitated understand that an album is a war on two fronts with lyrics and thematic ideas being just as important as the music itself.

We’ve been pissed off with people who used religion or they use people in general for things like war, terrorism. They manipulate them. The situation in Europe that we have with all the attacks and immigration, the war in Syria, there are a lot more things happening all the time. I think this corresponds with the lyrics from Anticult. Anticult is striving for this direction, we’re trying to explain that we haven’t got problems with religion, we have our own beliefs. We’re just pissed off with the people who use religion as a tool for manipulation. Especially when it comes to gunshots and killing people.

This album is also about freeing ourselves from the chains of the political system and to be free. The lyrics for “Earth Scar” talk about the band as travelling people that make their scars over the world by travelling and visiting other cultures. In the lyrics we are like nomads to bring energy. Thats why the video is how it is, we have a nomad actor along with a bird to symbolise nature and travelling. Trying to show the life of a musician as nomads. Its not a concept album 100%.

Similar to the nomads they speak of in new single “Earth Scar” the spirit of Decapitated had been seen as something that was temporary. Not having a consistent line up has some what ailed the band over the years. Returning now with a cemented line for the first time since before their 2007 hiatus, finally, it feels as though Decapitated’s metaphorical wandering has come to an end.

Yes I think so! This album is like the third part of the new chapter of Decapitated since 2010. I think that we have made a declaration of our style on this album. Yes this is how Decapitated sounds in 2017 but I think that we have gotten to the point where we have our own sound. I have the feeling that the biggest success of this album is that finally, we have our own style with the new line up. I’m very proud of that and I’m proud of the production we had as well. Its really raw and organic and its how Decapitated is sounding in 2017 and what we represent. It’ll be the same sounding during our live shows, we use our instruments on this album its REAL.

Often overlooked when putting an album together tracklisting is paramount to the albums flow. Known for their fierce live performances, if you’ve ever seen the polish atom bomb live before, you’ll know exactly what I mean here. Consistently primed to go off, giving a sense of imminent danger that would be incredibly hard to translate into the static atmosphere of being on record. However with the trifecta of “Impulse” effortlessly moving into “Deathvalutation” before the smack down of “Kill The Cult“. Their combination is absolutely ferocious, immediately setting the tone for the record.

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On the album these songs are well connected but its probably because I made all of the musical ideas for the album. Somehow, I’m not sure it might be because of my style of playing the riffs of the music and because all of the songs from Anticult were prepared in a short time, in nine months of playing guitar and making riffs. All of those songs on Anticult all fit together with the sound of my guitar. It was really hard to do the track list for Anticult.

It was the worst thing after the mix of the album! It took us two days of just thinking of what song should be first, which should be second, third… I don’t know I just had this feeling that out of the eight songs, I just chose those three and had a feeling that they really fit together. Especially that the end of “Impulse” fits together with the beginning of “Deathvaluation” and it was possible to connect it as an intro and the same with “Kill The Cult”. Its perfect. It goes together also with the experience from the shows that we play, when we prepare a set list for a show, we always think about the breaks between the songs. We try not to do breaks that are too long. For us, its the best to just to just connect the songs because of the intros. We actually make the track list like a set list for a show. 

One of the ways in which Decapitated have excelled above their peers is their understanding of the album format as an art form. Having cherry picked a “set list” as Vogg calls it, the band had finalised their eight shortlisted tracks. Making the record a total of thirty eight minutes long. The length of an album can be the deciding factor of a band and often make or break an album. Here the band have understood the brute force nature of what Anticult stands for and that it shouldn’t overstay its welcome.

Thats the best when you listen to an album and you’re out. It works best for the album. Its also prepared for thirty minutes. Thirty eight minutes because we didn’t want to make it too long. Peoples attention span is fragile now, thirty eight minutes is long enough to deliver all the ideas and make an interesting album that wouldn’t be boring. Its just the perfect time for a Decapitated album.

However having a relentless attack can be somewhat trickier for the more vintage format of vinyl. Released in a plethora of different editions, Anticult will go against the grain once more. Side A having a total of five tracks, whilst side B will only have the last three. Perhaps a queer idea, it was in fact suggested to Decapitated from their Polish label and couldn’t be a better way to ensure that the pace of the record remains.

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There is some kind of connection that its not possible to put on the vinyl because you need to change sides. Our Polish label suggested to make it five songs for side A and three songs for side B and we went for it! It made some problems, especially in the US market because they like to have 4 and 4 which would be the best. The polish label suggested five because, fourth and the fifth are together. If we broke it, we would lose the idea behind those two songs. It will be weird but it will work better for the person listening to the vinyl. Pretty interesting thing!

With much of Decapitated’s music, the sound of the band is as much about impact as it is song writing, wanting to have a fresh perspective the band decided to abandon their home to the album previous that was Hertz Studios. Opting instead have a multitude of different studios to ensure that every instrument was well put together and given its own voice.

We didn’t go back to Hertz Studio, we chose three studios. The first was Custom 34 Studio in the north of Poland, Gdansk we chose this place because of the room that they had for the drums. Amazing sound, just an amazing ambient sound. The drums you hear on the record is mainly ambient sound, there might be a bit of sound on the mics which are close to the instrument but the main sound is a few metres from the drum kit. You can imagine how good the room is, that you can put a microphone, six eight metres from the drums and that is the sound that you can hear on the album. Its really amazing. Daniel Bergstrand, the guy who mixed the album came to the studio to set up the studio with the drums. Its a really good studio, I recommend it for all the bands that want to have a good sound for the drums.

The second sound was in a studio in Wrocław in south Poland. A small village next to Krakow, where I live. Its Z-Studio, we did guitars, bass and vocals with Tomasz, he’s a great engineer. I think its the best guitar sound in Decap for a long time. Its so crunchy, the sound tastes crunchy. I was using my Ibanez custom shop guitar, together with EVH amplifiers and cabinets and a little overdrive pedal. Its really simple but it works really well because of some of the ideas of Z-Studios.

Nevertheless some elements of recording don’t quite go according to plan. Herein lies the challenge of the person in charge of mixing, coming in from the cold Daniel Bergstrand, a man who has worked with Meshuggah, Dark Funeral and In Flames to name a few was no doubt able to give a different perspective that perhaps the band hadn’t thought. In turn ,creating a fantastic mix that has given the band a tethered, organic tone without losing its power. Going once more against the grain in the day and age of picture perfect sound, here the band opted for something that was full of grit yet entirely organic.

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After this we sent Daniel Bergstrand did the mix in two weeks, he was pretty hard to work with I have to say. Recording the drums was really easy but mixing, Daniel is an old time producer. He has his vision and he really stands behind his ideas. If you want to change something its kind of a war going on haha! Finally though we had some really good results working together.

With Blood Mantra, Decapitated began to understand that their aim could be set higher than the likes of the Death Metal underground. Forging a new path for themselves in the arena of groove, now the band have understood not only their roots but their chosen path into the future. The ancient debate will no doubt rage on about the state of Decapitated. Of course there are always going to be those stuck in the past who long for the return to Nihility roots. Simply put, Decapitated are not the same band anymore. Having evolved not only within themselves but with the times, the band’s message has been more pertinent than ever. Returning with what could be seen as their strongest line up in years, Decapitated have created an identity, a symbiosis of their Death Metal underground with their new Metal aspirations. A combination of old and new to form their true sound.  Aiming for heights perhaps that in the past would have been unattainable, now, this fully fledged, well oiled machine has come screaming into the spotlight of 2017. With what could be one of their most ferocious, accomplished and truly excellent albums to date, Decapitated, the world has your attention.

Well, its hard to answer. For sure we have been inspired when we were touring with bands like Meshuggah and Lamb of God, they’re a huge inspiration when you’re touring with such big bands. You’re watching them every night and you learn a lot of things from them. They give us the motivation to start to believe that Decapitated can easily be in the same league of the mainstream Metal music. I believe in that, I know my band, how we can play. We can go for long tours and travel for a long time, we’re a band that was looking for that so if we get the opportunity to do this we will! We love what we do. We have these kind of aspirations for sure. I think I know why its like that, I was thinking that Blood Mantra had aspirations to be what Anticult is but I think that Anticult is actually beating this album. 

Decapitated’s furious new album Anticult is out July 7th via Nuclear Blast. 

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