Incantation has long been one of the most solid and consistent bands
with all of Death Metal, and their proper beginnings go back to their 1990 E.P. Entrantment of Evil. While being on
the second-tier, below the early releases of Death, Autopsy, Morbid Angel, Pestilence, Obituary and so on, John McEntee and
his revolving door or band mates remained near the top and ended up succeeding the aforementioned acts and resting upon the
dark throne of truly evil Death Metal as most turned to nonsensical wankery.
Most of these songs can be heard on the
band's debut full-length, Onward to Golgotha; however, this somewhat more raw approach is certain worth listening to.
The songwriting should not come as a surprise to anyone that has been familiar with Incantation. It consists of a good amount
of evil tremolo riffs and blasting drums, with doom-ridden passages thrown in for good measure. This is rather primitive and
stripped-down, just as good Death Metal should be. The riffs are ugly and possess a dark feeling, and the vocals (while often
a bit deeper than I prefer) still add to the hateful atmosphere. Even at this point, there is a healthy variation in the compositions
that make them somewhat memorable and easily distinguishable from one another.
The production is fairly decent, though
still would be considered more demo-quality than that of a proper recording. Regardless, the raw and dirty sound adds to the
overall effect. One of the worst things that ever happened to Death Metal was the over-sterilized production that became the
norm a few years after this (as well as pointless songwriting). Here, the shabby sound benefits the compositions, though still
being good enough for one to follow the riffs. Everything is mixed pretty well, with the guitars having a rough edge to them
while still being heavy and thick. The bass has an ominous tone to it, as well.
If you are seeking solid, old-school
Death Metal, Incantation is a very reliable band and Entrantment of Evil is well worth the time to track down. This
is dark and doomy Death Metal with a strong anti-Christian feeling. Unlike the hordes of bands that came along later and showed
absolutely no understanding of what this music was supposed to be about, Incantation is a band that has alwways had a firm
grasp on what they were doing, and did it quite well.
(19 Apr. 2014)
Released in 1991, Deliverance of Horrific Prophecies is the second
E.P. from Incantation. Right from the start, this comes across as a monstrous recording of primitive and evil Death Metal.
It retains all of the elements from Entrantment of Evil, yet somehow the band comes across as more confident and determined.
On this recording, the guitar tone is thicker, the vocals are deeper and the overall sound is heavy as lead. The slow
passages are even slower and the drumming hearkens back to the heaviness of the first Candlemass record. There are fast-paced
sections with blasting drums and wicked tremolo riffs, but they are in the minority this time around. The doomier parts seem
to define the sound, here, especially with the title track. "Profanation" is rather mid-paced as well, though fails to convey
the same sense of dread. The vocals suit the music well enough, though a raspier approach (such as that heard on the Profanatica
material) would have sounded more appropriate and added to the evil atmosphere.
Though Death Metal is better suited
to having a more raw production with sharper guitars and not so much of a bottom-end, in my opinion, it sort of works here
since there is such a doom influence and just the overall heaviness of the sound. Incantation was never the greatest Death
Metal band to come out of the states, but they certainly were one of the most consistent and one of the few that didn't stray
into foreign territory as various new trends came along. Deliverance of Horrific Prophecies is certainly worth listening
(22 Apr. 2014)
Already by 1992, Death Metal was undergoing quite a transformation. Atmosphere
was being replaced by technicality, in some cases. Many were trying to outdo one another, in some idiotic contest to see who
could make the most brutal and pointless music. A lot of bands were changing in the name of "maturity", moving on to make
simplified nonsense or just tackling subject matter that had nothing to do with what this music was supposed to be about.
Thankfully, in May, Incantation's first full-length record was released. Onward to Golgotha is a massive beast of evil
Death Metal, taking the concepts of the previous releases and really solidifying the band's sound. As a bonus, the band avoids
the common themes of horror and gore, instead conveying a strong anti-Christian sentiment.
Incantation is certainly
one band that understands that atmosphere comes before all else and this is quite evident on their debut album. Everything
has a purpose, as nothing is played just for the sake of showing off. The fast tremolo riffs build the intensity and sense
of urgency, while the various slower passages add an aura of darkness and utter doom. Each track displays some amount of variation
in tempo and manages to maintain its own identity, yet the changes are done with purpose and not just to disorient the listener
and never seem to become formulaic. Songs like "Golgotha" and "Devoured Death" truly batter your senses, while the likes of
"Blasphemous Cremation" and "Christening the Afterbirth" drag you to the murky depths with doom passages that really add to
the darkened feel of the album. There are times when the drumming is too fluid and adds a sense of groove, when perhaps the
music would have sounded more intense with the primitive type of drumming featured in Profanatica. The one change that would
have benefited this album the most would have been if Paul Ledney had not left the band. His much raspier vocal approach would
have made this much more sinister and memorable, as the super-low vocals sort of blend in with the music and do very little
for me, personally.
The production is a bit more polished than necessary, but not to an irritating level by any means.
However, the compositions would have really come across better with a more raw sound that placed more emphasis on the guitars.
Unfortunately, around this time, Death Metal was changing and everything was going lower; i.e. lower-pitched vocals, lower
tuning on the guitars, the prominence of the bass and drums in the mix. These things work against the sort of vibe that Death
Metal is supposed to have. That said, Incantation still managed to create something very worthwhile, here.
to Golgotha is a definite classic of Death Metal. It is unfortunate that Incantation suffered so many problems with lineup
difficulties and with their label, as this material is far stronger than most of the other albums from this era that regularly
receive so much more praise. For example, and album like Tomb of the Mutilated is widely known and has had tons of
praise heaped upon it for two decades, yet it has been my experience that Incantation is not as highly regarded as Cannibal
Corpse, despite being a better band. Nevertheless, this album is highly recommended to any fan of the old school Death Metal
sound, back when it was supposed to create a feeling of dread, darkness, death and evil, rather than being a wanking contest
between attention whores with no clue what this music was meant to be. Seek this out if you do not already own it.
(23 Apr. 2014)