Polish Death Metal, alive and kicking (and screaming!)

I would like to discuss the new release Blood Mantra (30/09/2014, U.S and AUS) from Polish Technical Death Metal band, Decapitated. Blood Mantra is the bands sixth studio album and features a new line-up.

  • Waclaw (Vogg) Kietltyka – Guitar
  • Rafal (Rasta) Piotrowski – Vocals
  • Pawel Pasek – Bass
  • Michal Lysenjko – Drums

Blood Mantra was produced by the bands only original member Waclaw Kietlyka (Vogg) and recorded, mixed and mastered by the Wiesawski brothers in Hertz Studio, Poland. It is the third album from Decapitated to be recorded at Hertz Studio, 9 years after Organic Hallucinosis was recorded there and Vogg wanted to ‘evoke the feel of that album’ (Kietlyka, 2014). Whilst sonically similar to the feeling of Organic Hallucinosis, Blood Mantra is vastly different musically and so as not to compare Blood Mantra to another album (which I feel distracts us from analysing this one) I will first focus on the equipment used to produce Decapitated’s guitar sound.

Equipment

Being a guitar-driven band, Decapitated relies heavily on a crushing, distorted but still defined sound from the guitar.

Guitar checklist

  • Ibanez Iceman custom 7-string electric guitar
  • EVH 5150 100w Amplifier
  • EVH 5150 Cabinets

Ibanez Iceman custom 7-string electric guitar

This is the first album that Vogg has used a 7-string axe which is quite important. In previous albums he had used 6-string guitars and if you look back through the albums they started out in concert pitch (A440) and pretty much dropped a tone every album, getting progressively lower. A 6-string guitar can handle dropped tunings relatively well, you just increase the gauge of the strings when you tune lower, however when playing extreme metal the use of a locking system for the strings is almost always a must and because of the physics of the guitar the saddle can only go back so far (the lower the pitch, the longer the string)….this is the critical point when you must convert to an instrument with more strings.

Vogg and his Iceman 7 Custom
Vogg and his Iceman 7 Custom

To many people the change from a 6-string guitar to a 7-string can take some adjustment and if your a touring band then this grace period may not be a luxury you can afford.

The Iceman is tuned to B standard and has a range of 62Hz-1397Hz.

EVH 5150 100w Amplifier

The 5150 is a 100w head from Eddie Van Halen’s brand, EVH with three channels, clean, crunch and lead. It is vacuum tube driven and each channel has separate controls,

  • Gain
  • Low
  • Mid
  • High
  • Volume
  • Presence

The pre-amp tubes are 8 x 12AX7 and the power tubes are 4 x 6L6. Check out the post pentodes, triodes and distortion if you need more info on tubes. As with a great deal of metal, the guitar tone comes from the amp, without a great deal of post production and enhancing but more so multi-mic techniques at the source.

EVH 5150 4×12 Cabinet

  • 100 watt
  • 16 Ohm
  • straight-front
  • 4×12″ mono cabinet
  • Signature Celestion G12EVH speakers

Another factor that has contributed to the sound of Blood Mantra is the studio where it was recorded. Hertz studios use an Amek classic console, Mytek 8×192 8 channel AD/DA converters and nuendo software but the real prize is their new live room, designed by Lawrence P. Swist. L.P Swist is a renowned studio designer and acoustician and has made spaces for Michael Jackson, Rhianna, Madonna, Coldplay and U2 (to name a few!). This new live room was finished just in time for Blood Mantra and is described as being a large, open sounding room with nice ambience.

New live room for Hertz Studio
New live room for Hertz Studio

I will continue to explore Blood Mantra in the following weeks with deep descriptions of song arrangement and instrumentation, in the mean time do yourself a favour and get it!

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