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Decapitated is a Polish death metal band formed in Krosno in 1996. The group comprises guitarist, founder and composer Wacław "Vogg" Kiełtyka, vocalist Rafał Piotrowski, drummer Michał Łysejko and bassist Hubert Więcek,. Decapitated have gained recognition as one of the genre's most widely respected bands and one of the finest exponents of technical death metal. The band earned an international fan base in the underground music community, and became an innovating act in the modern death metal genre.
Vogg and his younger brother, drummer Witold "Vitek" Kiełtyka, founded Decapitated along with vocalist Wojciech "Sauron" Wąsowicz in their mid-teens, joined by bassist Marcin "Martin" Rygiel a year later. After releasing two demos, the band signed with Wicked World (subsidiary of Earache Records) and, in 2000, released their debut album, Winds of Creation. In 2002 and 2004 the band released the albums Nihility and The Negation, respectively. The band's ambitious fourth album, Organic Hallucinosis, was released in 2006 with a new vocalist, Adrian "Covan" Kowanek.
In late 2007, the band was involved in an automobile accident. Vitek died at the age of 23 on November 2, 2007 of the injuries he suffered from the accident and Covan survived, but he slipped into a coma as a result. After a period of disbandment, Vogg reformed Decapitated and in 2011 released the fifth album, Carnival Is Forever. The sixth, Blood Mantra, was released in 2014. The band's seventh album, Anticult, was released in July 2017 and Alternative Press described Decapitated as remaining one of "death metal's elite" bands.
Winds of Creation, Nihility and The Negation (1996–2004)
Decapitated was founded in Krosno, Poland in 1996, by guitarist Wacław "Vogg" Kiełtyka, who was 15 at the time, his brother drummer Witold "Vitek" Kiełtyka, who was 12 years old, and vocalist Wojciech "Sauron" Wąsowicz, who was 16. One year later, bassist Marcin "Martin" Rygiel, 13, joined the band. Decapitated released its first demo, Cemeterial Gardens, in 1997 and its second demo, The Eye of Horus, in 1998. After signing to Earache Records subsidiary Wicked World, the band released its debut album, Winds of Creation, which included a cover version of Slayer's "Mandatory Suicide", and was produced by Piotr Wiwczarek from the Polish band Vader, in April 2000. The band toured with Vader in early 2001 in the United Kingdom. Allmusic states that "Decapitated have quickly gained recognition as one of Poland's, and even Europe's, finest exponents of ultra-technical death metal."
Decapitated's self-produced second album, Nihility, which was released in February 2002, fulfilled the high expectations that followed the well-received debut album. Nihility also included a cover version of Napalm Death's "Suffer the Children". Decapitated was chosen to perform at the Polish Ozzfest event in late May and toured in North America and Europe in August. Sławek and Wojtek Wiesławscy produced the band's next album, The Negation, which was released in February 2004. The album received a positive response from the critics and was followed by a tour in Europe and the United States throughout 2004.
Organic Hallucinosis and hiatus (2005–2008)
In mid-2005, Sauron announced his withdrawal from Decapitated, stating: "It was not an easy decision. However, I could reconcile the welfare of the band with my personal plans, and hence quitting appeared to be the best solution not hampering the evolution of Decapitated.(...) Moreover, another reason that contributed to my decision have been some health complications." The band chose Adrian "Covan" Kowanek, a previous member of Atrophia Red Sun, as his replacement and entered Hertz Studios in Białystok in August to record their ambitious fourth album Organic Hallucinosis, which was released the following February. According to Allmusic, the band's musical change of direction on this album was "likely to polarize longtime Decapitated fans".
During the following tour in December 2005, Martin could not perform with the band due to military conscription issues and was shortly substituted by Richard Gulczynski, but joined again in February 2006. During the year, Decapitated toured with American bands Suffocation, Six Feet Under, Fear Factory, and others. In June and July 2007, Decapitated played with Cephalic Carnage and others in the Summer Slaughter trek across the US. Once the tour ended, Martin departed from Decapitated to live with his family and to move to California.
On October 28, 2007, the remaining three band members were involved in an automobile accident that injured Vitek and Covan. Their tour bus collided with a truck carrying wood in Gomel, near the border from Russia to Belarus. Vitek died on November 2, 2007 at the age of 23 in a Russian hospital from the injuries. Covan slipped into a coma and was later moved to Poland. In 2008, Metal Mind Productions released the concert DVD Human's Dust.
Reformation and Carnival Is Forever (2009–2013)
On March 8, 2009, after a period of disbandment, Vogg announced he was planning to continue the band and was searching for a new drummer and vocalist. Covan was unable to continue with Decapitated due to the slow improvement of his condition. In early 2009, Vogg participated on recording of the guitars for Vader's album Necropolis and continued with the band on a tour in support of the album, starting in September.
In mid-2009 Vogg stated: "It has been the hardest thing for me to move on without Vitek by my side, but he would have wanted me to continue with the band. Finally, I have found some great musicians who can continue the work of Vitek and Covan." "There's no sense in stopping this amazing thing we built up so many years ago together with Vitek, Sauron, Martin and Covan."
On July 31, 2009, the Austrian drummer Kerim "Krimh" Lechner of Thorns of Ivy joined Decapitated. On November 20, 2009, the new line-up was completed with the vocalist Rafał Piotrowski of the band Ketha and bassist Filip "Heinrich" Hałucha of Vesania and Masachist. Decapitated continued with support of Nuclear Blast record label and Hard Impact Music management. The band toured in United Kingdom in February 2010 as well as in April and May in Australia, New Zealand and European festivals and the Summer Slaughter tour in United States in mid-2010.
The band entered RG Studio in Gdańsk on February 9, to begin recording their fifth studio album entitled Carnival Is Forever. The album was produced by Vogg; while mixing and drums production was done by Swedish producer Daniel Bergstrand, who previously worked with Behemoth and Meshuggah among others. Heinrich departed from Decapitated after the recording in order to concentrate on Vesania, and Carnival Is Forever was released on July 12, 2011.
On November 1, 2011, the band was on board LOT Polish Airlines Flight 16 when the crew were unable to extend the landing gear and were forced to land the aircraft on its belly. Everyone aboard the flight survived. Lechner left the band in September 2012 and was replaced by former Vader drummer Paweł Jaroszewicz.
In late 2012, Decapitated played concerts in Nepal, Japan, and Thailand, among others.
Blood Mantra and Anticult (2014–present)
On March 13, 2014, the band announced the addition of drummer Michał Łysejko to its lineup, who had been touring with Decapitated since January 2014. Decapitated recorded Blood Mantra during March in Hertz Studio in Poland, and released the album in September. During a tour in United States in October, the band was involved in serious van accident on the way to a show in New Orleans, Louisiana. Nobody was seriously injured and the band continued on tour. Decapitated accompanied Soulfly on their 2015 We Sold Our Souls To Metal Tour.
The album Anticult was released on July 7, 2017. Vogg stated about the songwriting process: "[This] album is one that we created together as a band. Our drummer, Michał [Łysejko], [helped] a lot with the arrangements and the songs. He's like the co-author of the songs. It's like I used to do with Vitek [Witold Kiełtyka]."
On September 9, 2017, while on tour in the United States, all four members of the band were arrested in Santa Ana, California after allegedly kidnapping and raping a woman after their show in Spokane, Washington on August 31. Subsequently, all future touring plans were cancelled while the investigation is ongoing.
On September 9, 2017, the band were arrested in Santa Ana, California during their U.S. tour on charges of first degree kidnapping on a woman following a show in Spokane, Washington on September 1. The woman attested to having been held against her will and raped by all four members of the band. They were taken into custody, facing extradition. Corporal Teresa Fuller of the Spokane Police Department said that the woman reported the alleged kidnapping by the musicians to police just before 2 a.m. The woman was believed to have attended the show with Thy Art Is Murder at The Pin venue as part of the "Double Homicide" tour.
Detectives noted in released court documents that the woman had "significant bruising to her upper arms consistent with being restrained" and "small abrasions to her knuckles that were scabbed over." Wacław Kiełtyka told detectives he saw both Piotrowski and Więcek engaged in sex acts with the woman in the bathroom, while Łysejko and Więcek denied witnessing the incident, and Piotrowski refused comment.
The band's defense attorney Steve Graham spoke on the incident claiming, "There is another side to this. We have witnesses that can testify to the fact that the accuser came to visit band of her own free will and left on good terms." He also told police that the band members had offered to surrender but never heard anything back, "I made it clear that I could get the guys up here ASAP and they would cooperate."
On September 12, the band appeared in a Los Angeles court, being held without bail, as they took turns in front of a judge agreeing to be extradited to Washington. They all had a Polish translator while a representative from the Polish consulate sat in the courtroom. Their attorney released a statement saying, "Decapitated plan to fully fight the allegations that have been brought against them and are confident that their side of the story will be heard." The band then spoke out and have "strongly denied" any of the allegations. They have also proclaimed their innocence while condemning the hatred directed at them on social media by individuals who are not familiar with all the facts of the case.
On October 4, Łysejko and Kiełtyka were extradited to Spokane while Piotrowski and Więcek would await their transportation at a later date. On October 12, all four members were formally charged with rape. They had previously been charged with attempted kidnapping in the first degree. The charges varied between the four, from second degree for Piotrowski and Kiełtyka to third degree for Łysejko and Więcek. The band issued a new statement on Facebook, confirming the extradition and charges. They then claimed that "some facts are indisputable at this point" and that "the original officer who took the complaint from the accuser stated, 'I do not have probable cause that a rape occurred'. The band firmly refutes the allegations and are confident that once the facts and evidence have been seen and heard, they will be released and able to return home."
Piotrowski and Więcek were then extradited, appearing in a Spokane court on October 20. With the aid of a Polish translator, Judge John Cooney communicated the charges of first-degree kidnapping and second-degree rape to Piotrowski and first-degree kidnapping and third-degree rape to Więcek. The band's bond was set at $100,000 and were forced to surrender their passports to attorneys. They were also not allowed to speak to each other while incarcerated. Piotrowski's attorney, Jeffry Finer, said that his client and his bandmates would be pursuing bail, but would await on documents from Poland to "impress the court. Among this group, there are a number of advanced degrees and zero criminal history."
Musical style and critical reception
Decapitated's music is composed by the "mastermind" of the band, Vogg, who co-worked with Vitek while writing prior to his death. Decapitated became known for its songwriting and technical instrumental approach at an extraordinarily young age and earned an international fan base in the underground music community. In the review of Decapitated's debut album, Allmusic said "the band has a seemingly effortless understanding and command of ... their instruments and ... the songwriting is extremely solid; even in the first listen." The characteristics of Nihility and Negation are "powerful, blastbeat-filled drumming, dissonant yet memorable guitar riffs, and inventive guitar solos" and substantially high production quality. In the review of The Negation, Metal Hammer states that "Sauron is one of the most capable vocalists on the scene". With Organic Halucinosis, Decapitated focused on non-traditional death metal aesthetics, more complex songwriting and grooves, and polyrhythmic approach; Covan contributed more versatile vocals. A notable element of groove is present in Decapitated's death metal sound, which has been often described as technical death metal.
Decapitated's releases are some of death metal's most significant albums of the early 21st century. Winds of Creation was "responsible for re-igniting a stagnating death metal scene" and Organic Hallucinosis proved to be substantially influential in the subsequent development of the genre. According to Kerrang!, Decapitated have released "classic albums; (...) that have turned these youthful Poles into one of the genre's most widely respected bands. Tomas Haake, the drummer of the Swedish band Meshuggah, commented the death of Vitek: "The metal community has lost one of the most talented and skillful drummers of our time! [...] Vitek was a true talent and drummer genius." In 2017, Alternative Press described Decapitated as one of "death metal's elite" bands.