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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Incantation

Blasphemy

Review by Mike Korn

If you were to look beneath the dark underbelly of heavy metal, you would likely see Incantation staring back at you with a toothy grin. The very antithesis of good taste and musical technicality, this long-lasting band of sinister ghouls have cast a long dark shadow over death metal for over ten years. Their latest effort "Blasphemy", the first for new label Necropolis Records, follows firmly in the footsteps of previous efforts, offering little in the way of innovation. These guys have their formula and stick to it.

The formula includes guttural growling vocals that scrape the very depths of Hell's sewer; a dirty, raw production heavy on the fuzz and distortion; a barrage of double bass drumming that rattles the skull-cage; an intense mixture of screaming high speed riffs and painfully slow sludge; and finally, poetic yet extremely blasphemous lyrics mocking all that is sacred. I wouldn't expect much introspection, sampling or female vocals on "Blasphemy". It's death metal pure and in the raw.

The band's predictability can be a weakness as well as a strength. I personally am starting to tire of their approach but I have to give the Devils their due. What you see is exactly what you get with Incantation!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Blasphemy
There's no intro, no instrumental build-up here. Just an immediate blast of infernal grimy death metal, down-tuned and grim. Mike Saenz' vocal growls are deeper than the national debt. It's one of the better speedy scorchers the band has penned..
The Fallen
More grisly Incantation grue on display here, it's predominantly fast but there's time enough for some mid-paced torpid grunge with plenty of those high-pitched guitar squeaks and squeals for which the band is known. This is not pushing the envelope too much.
Once Holy Throne
This shows the doomier, more sluggish side of Incantation, with slow riffs crawling along like a tank. There's a strange kind of stateliness to the song but if you don't appreciate true doom, you will likely find it tedious.
Crown of Decayed Salvation
This track kicks things back into the hyperblasting speed realm. It gradually builds into some crushing mid-paced hooks that once more rise to a killer climax. Kyle Severn's drumming is a relentless pounding.
Rotting With Your Christ
One of Cardinal Bernard Law's favorite tunes, I'm sure. It's pretty typical Incantation stuff, with chaotic guitar patterns weaving in and out of slower and catchier riffs.
His Weak Hand
This is more relentless sludgy/speedy death metal, and it's starting to sound awfully familiar. The doomy bits don't have quite the same punch here that they do on tracks like "Crown of Decayed Salvation", and the monotonous droning at the end is dull.
The Sacrilegious Apocalypse of Righteousness and Agonizing Dementia
For a tune with such a ridiculously long title, this doesn't last that long. In fact, it's a simple instrumental with a basic riff repeated for a little more than two minutes. Some would say it shows the band is brain dead, but I think it shows they have a sense of humor. By the way, the subtitle is "The Final Defilement of Your Lord".
Deceiver (Self-Righteous Betrayer)
This starts with some great grinding guitar which leads into some more brutal doom, this time with a bit more of a melodic edge. Yes, I said melodic, but don't panic because it soon reverts to that grinding feel.
Seraphic Irreverence
This starts so soon after the previous track that it could almost be considered a continuation of that song. It's extremely fast and chaotic death metal with some interesting riffing.
Uprising Heresy
Very basic drum fills laced with a repeated doomy guitar motif kick this off. The pattern is repeated to the point of annoyance, creating a lot of tension in the listener. This whole song is choppy and full of stops and starts. On one hand, the tune is tedious but it also does seem to drag you in with its unusual and repetitive structure. It's very much an acquired taste.
Misanthropic Indulgence
The opening chords of this one are just pure devastation. When Incantation lay down something like this, they do death metal as well as anyone. Catchy despite the mayhem, this ends the album on the proper note of evil. "I will not follow thee/I'm a saint of blasphemy".
Outro
One of those hidden tracks you have to wait forever to get to, this is a genuinely creepy bit of ambience. It sounds like a Latin Mass being read backwards over the noise of squealing pigs and tolling bells while an ominous synth tone plays in the background - just the thing to put your toddler to bed with.
 
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