The First Damned

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The road to heavy metal glory is littered with the crumpled bodies of musicians that didn’t have the talent, the opportunity or the dumb luck to make the grade. But sometimes greatness is present from the very start, and it’s bands with that magical, ill-defined, special something  that seem to follow a predestined path to triumph. That is certainly true of Poland’s Decapitated. As I write this at the end of 2020, Decapitated are widely and justly recognised as one of the most important and consistent death metal bands of the 21st century. With an idiosyncratic and always crushing sound that has been relentlessly copied but never equalled, the band led by guitarist Waclaw ‘Vogg’ Kieltyka are contemporary legends with a near-flawless creative catalogue. But even natural-born heroes have to start somewhere, and Decapitated’s story began in Krosno, Poland, a long, long time ago, with the simple passing of the metal torch from one family member to another…

Decapitated formed in Krosno in 1996, but Vogg and Vitek spent the years prior to that seismic moment immersing themselves in the metal world, devouring as much music as they could get their hands on and edging ever deeper into the vibes and culture of the extreme metal underground. The early ‘90s was the perfect time for the young Poles to make their entry into the metal fray for real, as the music they loved evolved and exploded all around them. 

Bewitched by death metal and increasingly intrigued by the idea of making some brutal music of his own, Vogg was plainly destined to be a professional musician. Both he and his younger brother were already attending music school, honing their abilities as classical musicians and gaining a rich knowledge of music’s nuts and bolts in the process. Also attending the school were Wojciech ‘Sauron” Wasowicz and Marcin ‘Martin’ Rygiel: the two remaining pieces of the original Decapitated jigsaw. All that was needed was a masterplan…

The first Decapitated demo, Cemeteral Gardens, was recorded at Manek Studio in Sanok, Poland, in June, 1997. From its ominous, eerie intro to the final crushing fury of its epic title track, it was an extraordinarily mature and inventive effort from a quartet of fresh-faced teenagers, powered by passion and excitement and gaining in confidence with every passing riff. 23 years on, songs like Destiny and Way To Salvation (the latter of which reappeared on Decapitated’s Winds Of Creation album in 2000) were undeniably rough around the edges, but the veracity, potency and potential of these wide-eyed kids from Krosno was unquestionable.

Buoyed by the support of their native scene, Decapitated wasted no time in conjuring some fresh material for second demo. Once again recording at Manek Studio, The Eye Of Horus showcased a band with the wind in their sails, as Vogg refined his songwriting skills and his band mates stepped up with much greater precision, power and authority. The sound of the demo was also noticeably punchier than that of its predecessor.

When The Eye Of Horus was unleashed in the autumn of 1998, Decapitated’s collective ambitions remained limited to playing a few shows and, perhaps, writing a few more songs. Today, Vogg admits that he never suspected that his band’s demos would lead to bigger and better things. In truth, Decapitated were simply too good, too exciting and too original to be ignored. Despite their humility and understandably low expectations, the sheer quality of The Eye Of Horus would soon lead to an unexpected leap up the heavy metal ladder.

Officially released for the first time in two decades, Decapitated’s early demos have not been remixed, remastered or messed with in any way. Instead, this is a blistering, bona fide and warts ‘n’ all snapshot of four young men with fire in their bellies and a bright future ahead of them. Many years later, Vogg is still out there flying the flag, delivering ground-breaking brutality and honouring his fallen brother’s memory with grace and power. But this is where the legend began: raw, vital and crushing death metal, Decapitated-style.


1. Intro (The Eye Of Horus - Demo,1998)
2. The Eye Of Horus (The Eye Of Horus - Demo, 1998)
3. Blessed (The Eye Of Horus - Demo,1998)
4. The First Damned (The Eye Of Horus - Demo, 1998)
5. Nine Steps (The Eye Of Horus - Demo, 1998)
6. Danse Macabre (The Eye Of Horus - Demo, 1998)
7. Mandatory Suicide (The Eye Of Horus - Demo, 1998)
8. Intro (Cemeteral Gardens – Demo, 1997)
9. Destiny (Cemeteral Gardens – Demo, 1997)
10. Way To Salvation (Cemeteral Gardens – Demo, 1997)
11. Ereshkigal (Cemeteral Gardens – Demo, 1997)
12. Cemeteral Gardens (Cemeteral Gardens – Demo, 1997)