“I’m a big fan of Slayer and I love their music. It’s definitely a band that without them, death metal would not exist, at least not in the form we know now.”

Any artist who embarks on a career in metal must have substantial inner strength. The journey to recognition is riddled with obstacles that must constantly be conquered. We never know when the opposition will strike and sometimes the setbacks can be heartfelt but the desire to create is stronger than oblivion. It is the fuel that fires the stories of legends.

Any fan of death metal should know the history of Decapitated and what they have endured to keep a moniker active. Although the group’s style has changed over the years, the drive to entertain has remained constant. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Wacław “Vogg” Kiełtyka of Decapitated about this current tour, the “Veins” video and the loss of Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman. Please enjoy some excerpts of our 30 January 2016 interview.

David Halbe: What happened with the band’s visa issues last year?

Waclaw “Vogg” Kieltyka: Well, the last tour we were forced to cancel. That was the North American tour with Soulfly and Soilwork. We were really prepared for this tour, we had our equipment, passports, everything. The thing that fucked things up for us was an issue with the US Immigration office; we weren’t able to get our work visas in time. There was a specific reason for the delay but I don’t know all that legal stuff.

Dave: I understand. I remember reading you were delayed and only supposed to miss a few dates then I read you weren’t coming at all.

Vogg: Yes, I even paid more money to speed up the process but we still got nowhere. It was finally resolved on the last day of the tour.

Dave: Holy shit, that sucks!

Vogg: Yeah, we were willing to do anything! We would have done half the tour, even a week of the tour but it just wasn’t possible.

Dave: Are you trying to play places the Soulfly/Soilwork tour was scheduled to go?

Vogg: Oh yeah. We are here (Chicago) right now but this tour was booked really fast. Usually, you plan for a year maybe six months in advance for promotional reasons but the lead time on this tour was only like two months, fast booking, fast promotion, here we are.

Decapitated Foto

Dave: Wow!

Vogg: Yeah, this is like the fourth show of the tour and I am hearing we have really good pre-sales. So people will be here and I think it’s going to be a great tour. The last ten or so shows we play withAt the Gates and The Haunted. That’s a part of the tour we are really looking forward to, as well as the many headlining shows we will play.

Dave: Do you know why Black Breath bowed out of this current tour?

Vogg: I am told that they are on hiatus.

Dave: You recently had an animated video come out for the song “Veins”, how long did that take to produce?

Vogg: Dude! It totally takes more than a year. It’s all handmade, one guy (Concept artist Łukasz Rusinek) is in charge of it.

Dave: So it was all drawn?

Vogg: Oh yeah, it was all done by hand. He also does all the animation. I don’t know how it all works but I know it was all done by hand. It is all original. We’ve never done anything like this before so it was something very special, something different. I found this guy because one of my friends had a video done. He has done other music videos before but this was his first video for a metal band. He did a video for a Folk music band.

Dave: Ok

Vogg: So it was an interesting mix, you know? But it worked out fine and it’s a really cool video, I like it. People seem to appreciate it very much.

Dave: Who came up with the concept for the video, was it based on the song?

Vogg: Yes! We sent the lyrics to the guy with the song and he came up with the story idea.

Dave: It’s crazy, I was blown away when I first saw it.

Vogg: Yeah, it’s bad-ass.

Dave: Is there a special meaning behind the words “Smoking Kills” on the cigarette pack?

Vogg: No, people always want to make up stories. It was meant as just a sign, a sign on the back of a cigarette pack, ‘smoking kills’, that’s it, end of story.

Dave: I honestly saw irony in it. People killed with guns then a warning about smoking!

Vogg: Yes, you can actually read into it like that a bit. I think.

Dave: Blood Mantra features more groove than previous releases and has really allowed Decapitated to transcend the death metal stereo type. Have you thought past this current album and tour, will Decapitated continue in this groove?

Vogg: I don’t know, the thing is we didn’t have much groove on the previous albums. We were all looking for something more to add to the music, you know?

Dave: Right, it seemed like on Carnival (Carnival is Forever) you started to play with groove and on the last album (Blood Mantra) you found the perfect gear.

Vogg: Yes, it’s like we are more mature musicians now. For me to have groove means the musicians are more mature. 

Dave: I get it.

Vogg: I like to think of it like that. On the previous albums we were young guys, we were being technical, you know?  We wanted to show we could play, how good we really are, stuff like that. I don’t care about that anymore. I just want to play good songs.

Dave: I agree. I think this new direction allows you to play within different metal genres.

Vogg: Dude, we can play almost anywhere now. We can play Tech-Fest we can play with Lamb of God. We can also play with Behemoth and those really extreme bands.

Dave: For sure! You’re playing with Jungle Rot tonight as well as later with At the Gates, The Haunted, Sylosis and Black Tongue that’s a wide array of bands right there.

Vogg: Yeah, it’s crazy, and we’re doing almost three months straight of touring!

Dave:  Hell yeah, I counted. It’s thirty-seven dates in seven different countries!

Vogg: Also, I don’t think we’ve announced it yet but we will also be playing a Balkan tour this year. (April 2016 with Hate and Thy Disease)

Dave: Kick-ass! Tomorrow is Jeff Hanneman’s (Slayer) birthday. Had he lived he’d be 52 years old. Can you tell me what Slayer means to Decapitated?

Vogg: Actually Slayer is really important to me. My favorite Slayer album isn’t South of Heaven or Reign in Blood, its Divine Intervention!

Dave: Cool!

Vogg: To me, it is the best! And I think I was influenced by this album, maybe more than the rest of Slayer’s albums. I’m a big fan of Slayer and I love their music. It’s definitely a band that without them, death metal would not exist, at least not in the form we know now.

Dave: I agree.

Vogg: It’s a shame Jeff isn’t with us anymore. You know when we first started, we did a cover of Slayer’s “Mandatory Suicide” on our first album Winds of Creation.

Decapitated are:

  • Vogg – Guitars
  • Mlody – Drums
  • Rafal Piotrowski – Vocals
  • Hubert Więcek – Bass
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