Review by Jason Guest
Decapitated have suffered the kind of loss that would put any other band permanently out of commission. With the untimely death of Vitek (Voggs’ brother) and Covan falling into a coma following a road accident, Decapitated were no more. Following his tenure with Vader, in 2009 Vogg decided to reform the band and brought in Austrian drummer Kerim “Krimh” Lechner, vocalist Rafał Piotrowski and bassist Filip “Heinrich” Hałucha. Carnival Forever is the first album from the band since 2006. And what a return it is!
Opener ‘The Knife’ makes no bones about what to expect from this album with its warp-speed onslaught and is undoubtedly one of the best opening tracks to be heard this year. ‘Homo Sum’ batters through with a palm-muted riff, later layered with warped guitar lines that wind their way through the pummelling staccato rhythms. The title track, at almost nine minutes, covers a vast quantity of ground with a sullen guitar intro that is soon displaced by chords so dark they make Varg Vikernes look like a bible-toting Christian singing the Lord’s praise with the von Trapps. The volcano-deep grooves of ‘404’ will have the metalcore kids and djent gents weeping and wishing they could grow the kind of sphericals that could manufacture this kind of might. ‘A View from a Hole’ is a fiend of a tune packed with merciless tech death morsels. ‘Pest’ is densely packed with blast-beats and riffs so heavy it’s like being lashed to a missile and fired into a warhead factory. And in the dizzying aftermath, ‘Silence’ enters, acting as the calm after the storm, a quiet and introspective piece, lest we forget.
There is nothing funereal about this album. There is not one iota of futility, despair, or surrender. There is just innovation, creativity, and awe-inspiring death metal at its very best. Symbolically, this is a true testament to perseverance and determination. Musically, it’s difficult to find fault. The performances are all exceptional. Drummer Krimh keeps the album moving with his incredible versatility and prowess. Piotrowski’s vocals are the stuff wrath is made of. Halucha’s bass growls and snarls. And, of course, Vogg’s guitar work is assuringly astounding. Loaded with groovy tech riffs that overflow with intent and purpose and ludicrously enjoyable tunes, this is disgracefully vicious. Decapitated are forward-thinking musicians that have produced another mighty slab of cutting edge death metal. What is frightening about Carnival is Forever, however, is what will come next…
3. Carnival Is Forever
4. Homo Sum
6. A View From A Hole
Decapitated’s march towards world domination tragically drew to a close in 2007 with a bus accident on a tour in Russia. Drummer Witold ‘Vitek’ Kieltyka, one of the best in the genre, sadly passed away and the vocalist Adrian ‘Covan’ Kowanek, is still bedridden and fighting to get back to normal life. After two years, the only remaining original member, Waclaw ‘Vogg’ Kieltyka decided to start over and continue the legacy of the band in honour of his brother’s life and to rekindle the passion and energy they once shared. In July 2011, Vogg told Midlands Rocks about his decision to continue with Decapitated and their new album, Carnival is Forever, released on 15th July 2011 through Nuclear Blast.
MR: Thanks for taking time out to speak to us at Midlands rocks. Can you tell us about the decision to reform Decapitated? Given everything that has happened, was it a difficult decision? As you’re the only original member in the new line-up, why did you choose to continue with the name Decapitated?
Vogg: I didn’t think about that. I can play without Witek and Covan, especially without Witek… And I have never thought that I would lose my brother too… What keeps me playing is my passion for music. Also I decided to continue this band because it’s the best thing in my life and I know Witek would be happy about my decision for sure.
Covan is still in very bad condition, he cannot move, talk or do anything by himself… He waits for surgery and he has recovery process all the time. If somebody wants to help him, please check those 2 websites: www.adrian.org.pl and www.wakeupcovan.com
MR: How did you choose the new line-up?
Vogg: That was very difficult to find right persons. Of course lots of people sent me offers, videos, audio recording etc. And there were so many people from the whole world, so for a couple months I was just sitting with laptop and checking recordings, hehehe. I started with the drummer because it was for me most important and difficult to re-place Witek – even not possible in the beginning. I chose Kerim “Krimh” Lechner finally because I saw that this guy had something that I was looking for. It’s like that if you see musicians, you know for the first couple seconds that this guy will be good or will be for sure not good for your band. I was not sure at first but I was very impressed by his performance of our song on YouTube. So I wrote to him and in the same time he wrote to me that he wanted to try. After this he came to Cracow and we had a couple rehearsals. Then I decided to give him a chance to play in Decapitated. Right now I cannot imagine anybody besides him on drums in this band. He is very good as a musician and super cool as a person.
Rafal “Rasta” Piotrowski – he was a singer in Polish metal groups Ketha and Forgotten Silence. I saw him for the first time on a benefit show we did for Covan in 2009. I was playing with Vader on that show and Rasta seemed to me like a very good vocalist. I met him once on the street in Cracow and I was asking him if maybe he wanted to try. He sent me his recording and I just couldn’t believe that it wasn’t Covan. His voice was so powerful and so good. After a few days I saw his live performance of our two songs from Organic and he just destroyed my ears, that was awesome!!
About the bass player, it was much easier because Filip “Heirich” Haucha called me one day and he said that he wanted to be in the band. I knew him for years because he played in Vesania, Rootwater, and Unsun so we had done some tours together in the past. So I said yes, why not. I know from before that he is a very good bass player so I didn’t think too much about taking him into the band.
I know that the guys had some stress on the first shows because all the people were wandering what the new Decapitated line-up looks like. It’s nothing weird with this, but lots of people were very understanding for new faces, so it helps a lot and makes the new line-up believe that all that we do right now makes sense.
MR: Can you tell us about the writing process for the album? Was there a main writer or did you all contribute to the songs?
Vogg: Well I’m still the main composer in the band. This time I worked on the new songs together with Krimh. And I have to say that this kid is so great!!! He is very fast with making drums for my riffs, sometimes too fast so I have to tell him that maybe you can play this riff little different, hehehe. So I was making all the riffs for the new album and Krimh helped me to arrange this stuff and he made his drums for those riffs. Also, a very important thing is that on this album you can hear so many ideas which came from Witek. Me and Witek, we started to work for this album in 2006 and I remembered all the ideas and I finished all of this on Carnival. So this album is also Witek’s album. And this is so important to me, of course. The other members, Rasta and Heinrich, did an excellent job in the studio to record vocals and bass parts. The vocal sounds very aggressive and wild in my opinion. Rasta is a master of making long screams, you will see:) Bass sounds also very deep and has a very important meaning with whole music on new album.
MR: Why did you choose Jarosław Szubrycht to write lyrics?
Vogg: Jarek Szubrycht wrote the lyrics because nobody from the band can write as good as he can. Simple. I was looking for the best writer and Jarek is one of the best for sure. Me and Jarek, we played a couple years ago in the band Lux Occulta and he was a vocalist. I knew that he’s such a great writer and journalist and for sure he will do something special for us – and he did. The lyrics are awesome, very interesting and not what you’d expect, very ironic I can say. He also came up with the idea for the album cover and album title.
MR: Decapitated is a very forward-thinking band, something that’s evident across all of your albums. How would you say Carnival… compares with Decapitated’s previous works?
Vogg: ‘Carnival…” is just another step in Decapitated’s history. In my opinion, it’s the most mature album. The main difference is that the album is recorded with a totally new line-up but we were using ideas which I created with Witek a long time ago.
MR: Do you have any particular favourites on the new album?
Vogg: No. I like all the songs the same and every song is different.
MR: ‘Silence’ is a very different piece compared to the rest of the tracks on Carnival…. Can you tell us about that track?
Vogg: ‘Silence’ is pure feelings and some emotions that are inside of me. But every song on this album is same important for me. As I said, it’s a special album for me and every riff has the same meaning for me.
MR: Can you tell us about the artwork, its origins and how it relates to the music?
Vogg: The artist of this picture is Lukasz Jaszak, a Polish artist and journalist. The picture is so cool, dark and crazy and what is more important, it makes so many people pissed off:) It’s a dark, unusual and disturbing cover and that’s the cover we were looking for. I’m bored of the full-of-colour and nice-looking computer design covers. I wanted something different this time and something that made people think, why? Why like that? And also I was thinking about painting or photography, something that is not plastic, because computer graphics are so cool but will never look better than real picture or real painting. And also it really fits with the music production of this album, simple and good sounding. The creator of this picture is Lukasz Jaszak and Jarek Szubrych was the man who found this picture and suggested using it to match his lyrics.
MR: You guys are playing at the Damnation Festival in Leeds, UK, in November. Are there any plans to play elsewhere in the UK?
Vogg: Yes, we will do UK tour on the beginning of 2012, and this is for sure. Can’t wait to play a new songs for UK fans, it will be insane!!!
MR: Thanks again for taking time out to talk to us at Midlands Rocks!