After forming all the way back in 1996, Decapitated released a few demos before landing an album deal with Earache Records, releasing “Winds of Creation” in the year 2000. After releasing another three albums with Earache Records – “Nihility” (2002), “The Negation” (2004) and “Organic Hallucinosis” (2006), Decapitated were unfortunately thrown into an unplanned indefinite hiatus due to; this was due to an automobile accident that unfortunately killed Witold “Vitek” Kieltyka, as well as vocalist at the time Adrian “Covan” Kowanek ending up in a coma as a result of his injuries.
Original founding member Waclaw “Vogg” Kieltyka reformed Decapitated, who released their fifth and sixth full-length albums “Carnival Is Forever” (2011) and “Blood Mantra” (2014) through Nuclear Blast Records. Undergoing a few line-up changes since re-forming, Waclaw “Vogg” Kieltyka (guitar), Rafal “Rasta” Piotrowski (Vocals), Michal Lysejko (Drums) and Hubert Wiecek (Bass) stepped foot into the recording studio once again to record their seventh full-length album “Anticult“, being brought to us once again through Nuclear Blast Records and is available from July 7th.
OVERDRIVE got the opportunity to speak to Waclaw “Vogg” Kieltyka about how Decapitated approach music pragmatically, what processes Decapitated used during the recording of the new album, the addition of Hubert Wiecek to the band last year, as well as where Decapitated haven’t performed yet that they would like to cross off the bucket list.
“There was a few things we tried to change or make better.” Kieltyka let us into the thought process during the creation of “Anticult“.
“First thing, we changed studios; we found that where we recorded Blood Mantra was great studio, but we feel we were looking for something newer. We came across Custom34 Studios (located in Gdansk, Poland); this brand new studio where the guy who owns the studio has this amazing room for recording drums. That’s why we chose Custom, only for the drums; we spent more than one week in this one place. It had a great atmosphere and was full of great people who took care of us. Another studio which was for the guitar/vocals, “ZED Studios” was located in Chehlo which closer to my place where I live in the top of Poland. We change studio and we change people. They recorded this album and then we went back to our old producer Daniel Bergstrand. (In Flames, Meshuggah, Bodyjar)”
Another thing Kieltyka mentioned that Decapitated changed was how “we tried to make a little bit shorter album than Blood Mantra. Another experience we took from the previous album was to make slightly shorter songs; we’re talking about the arrangement now, with a little bit less wait for the vocals, the solos.” Kieltyka further explained: “It can make a little bit boring and we were trying to make songs that attack you all the time; you have riffs, vocals and solos, all the time there’s something always going on so you never feel bored. We take experience and we have lessons, we take our good experiences from the previous album, which we put into the Anticult album.”
Decapitated write all their music with tempo, not time, in mind; Kieltyka let OVERDRIVE into why he thinks metal albums shouldn’t exceed 40 minutes and whether it’s easier or harder writing with that time limit in place:
“Well, it’s somewhat easier because I don’t need to do that long material (laughs). I’m the only person in the band who creates music, so for me to create 40 minutes of music by myself is kind of a challenge to be honest. To make 40 minutes of interesting, satisfaction riffs can be a challenge for me to do it all the time.” Kieltyka also added that “to make shorter album does make for easier work, but for me, 40 minutes is enough to make a piece of music. I think it’s long enough to express yourself in metal music and do enough interesting things in the music language.”
When you get to listen to “Anticult“ you will find yourself not knowing when some songs end and others begin due to the seamless transitioning that takes place on the album; Kieltyka mentioned how “it just happened” before adding how “it was also an idea to make the album so that it’s connected. I was inspired by “Devin Townsend” to not have too many breaks in the songs.”
Unfortunately at some stage last year, Decapitated had to part ways with their bass player “Pasal Pawek“; however that opened up the door for long time Decapitated fan Hubert Wiecek (former guitarist of Banisher) to fill that void. Kieltyka let OVERDRIVE know the reasons behind Pawek’s departure, stating how “Pasal Pawek was having some personal problems, some family problems and that’s why he decided to leave the band.”
When talking about Wiecek, Kieltyka mentioned how “Hubert was always a big fan of Decapitated; he had always wanted to play in the band! Hubert is a really good player and a really cool guy.” before further commenting on Wiecek’s contribution to the album:
“He was recording bass and did a great job; he also had a few great ideas for arrangement when he was recording. He’s a fresh member in the band, and he’s the kind of guy who is into guitar tech and electronics so he was always helping with stuff in the studio. He also bought a really cool title “Overdrive Metal” when I was recording parts in the studio and he made it crisper; it works a lot better for us.”
Touching further on working with Daniel Bergstrand again, Kieltyka comments “He is a good friend of ours.” before going on to mention that from a business perspective how Bergstrand was “always looking for the best position of drums and the microphones; the recording process was really cool and low stress! He makes amazing sounds and he was blown away for the studio that we rented for the drums; he was in shock!” Kieltyka also mentioned that “the main sound of the drums on Anticult were taken from the room ambience, not the close microphone! It’s amazing because the drums you’re hearing are from a microphone that’s ten metres away from the drums for example.”
Working with Bergstrand wasn’t always smooth sailing, as Kieltyka pointed out; however it wasn’t for a bad reason, but more-so out of the passion that Bergstrand has!
“When it came to mixing, you had to really prove that you were right if you wanted to change something. Daniel was a hard guy to work with, but it was good because he was a great producer who had a strong vision for the sounds. Sometimes there was fighting between us and him but it all worth it; we’d fight for a few days with him (laughs) and finally we’d get what we want. His mixing is very good and I respect him; he’s done a lot of records for bands like “Meshuggah”, “Bodywork” and “In Flames”, he’s working all the time.”
Kieltyka was quite proud of the finished result and how it was the desired sound that Decapitated wanted:
“We managed to get an organic sound; talking about production these days, I hear a lot of death metal albums coming out now and I can hear so much plastic sound; almost like a computer. For us to really get the sound of us as the band; just us creating an organic sound with our instruments shows we write and just the truth on this album. There was a little bit of an addition for the drums, but not much to alter our raw sound; which is how we should be sounding. That’s the direction we wanted for the sound.”
Anticult has a lot of “first takes” throughout the album; Kieltyka explains how those “when we talk about the guitar solo parts; during the composing process when I was composing the song and writing new arrangements for the riffs, I recorded some parts because I knew this place in the song we would start a solo. So i would take my guitar and quickly jam a solo just to mark that in this place we would put a solo. After a few days or a few weeks, I would realise that this solo actually fit so perfect that I would listen to it again and again.” before also adding how “sometimes the first take is the best; regardless of whether you’re doing drums or vocal; I think it’s the psychology that when you do something for the first time, you don’t think too much especially when you know you can repeat it again and again because you’re in the studio. Every time you repeat something, it can be maybe better but in some ways it can be worse because you think about it more and more.
Even though there was a lot of “first takes” with the guitar solos on Anticult, things didn’t always go that smoothly with other aspects of recording; Rafal Piotrowski was recording his vocals right until death knock!
“It was kind of stressful as we were recording until the LAST minute of the session. “Stockholm” was the last song we recorded and we were like “oh shit, we need to finish in 20 minutes; that’s the end of the session, we have no time. We recorded the vocals at the last minute of the session but we somehow we got it done and it sounded it great. Every session we were always doing things; at the very last second to finish the album but there’s always not enough time. Even at the start of the session, there is never enough time to do what we needed to do! We were just trying to do everything perfect for this album.”
Kieltyka also stated how “it’s good that we had a deadline; if we didn’t, we’d have been recording for many many days more and we will never have finished this album. We needed to finish it by this very date and it was good otherwise we’d be changing this thing forever. We are very happy with the final result; the styles, the production. Of course there may be a few things I could change after a few months where I have a really fresh ear; maybe I could change those two or three little things but I’m happy with everything.”
Decapitated always try to travel to go to new cities and new countries whenever they release a new album; just where do Decapitated want to perform that they haven’t been to before?
“I’m not really sure; after every album, we always try to go to new places and I hope it will be the same with Anticult. We are a band that has done a lot of travelling and have played a lot of live shows, so we’ve visited a lot of places! Personally I’ve never been to deep Russia, the wild Russia that’s far far away from the modern Europe. It would be interesting to go by the Trans-Siberian train, to go see the nature and stuff like that. I also would like to visit more of South America as we haven’t done much there; we’ve been to Columbia, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay but I would like to go to more countries in South America this time.”
With Decapitated hoping to travel around the world for the Anticult tour, where does that leave Australian fans; how much longer will we have to wait since their last visit in 2015?
“I can’t wait to come back to Australia; I love the country, the people and everything! I hope we come back next year. This year is quite busy for us but next year is quite free at this stage, so we’re hoping to hear something from an Australian promoter!”
Anticult is available through Nuclear Blast Records from July 7th!