When Polish technical death-metallers Decapitated lost two members, including the drummer, in a tour bus accident four years ago, it looked like the end of one of extreme music’s most promising acts. For guitarist Waclaw “Vogg” Kieltyka, choosing a drummer to replace his brother, Witold “Vitek” Kieltyka, was an especially delicate matter.
With 22-year-old Karim “Krihm” Lechner, they have found a basher worthy of Decapitated’s complex aggression on the scorching new Carnival Is Forever, which the drummer just finished tracking in May.
Back in 2007, Lechner made YouTube videos of himself covering various metal tunes, including “Invisible Control” from Decap’s 2006 release, Organic Hallucinosis. The clip got Vogg’s attention, fortuitously, at around the same time the frontman put word out that Decapitated were reuniting. “At the beginning I wasn’t sure if my playing skills were good enough,” says Lechner on the phone from his native Austria. “Vitek was a great drummer and you never know how hard it will be playing in such a great band. But friends told me I should try out.”
Before Lechner could send audition videos, Vogg contacted him, asking would he like to come up to Poland and hang. It was all a dream come true … until the trip from Vienna to Kraków. “I had to have all my cymbals and triggers and everything on the train,” he says. “I can’t practice or anything because there’s people sitting close.” [laughs] “And after seven hours I’m pretty tired.”
Adding to the tension was an unfamiliar studio replete with a janky audition kit. “The throne was broken so it wasn’t that easy to play the songs in the beginning,” he says. “You want to be a good drummer and do a great job, and then you have to fight with the drum chair.”
After jamming, the vibe was good but he still had no idea of his standing. There was some relief after learning that out of 200 drummers, only Lechner was invited to Poland, but “that made me nervous again.” A second day of jamming further cemented the bond. “Vogg told me he was comfortable, that he likes playing with me,” Lechner recalls. “He said ‘Okay, if you want to try it, let’s do it!’”
Don’t think the gig has gone to Lechner’s head. He knows that going on the road with new material is a different world from a jam session or studio tracking. “I still have to learn a lot,” he says. “Like hitting harder.”