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Entrantment of Evil (1990)
 

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 to.
 
(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.

Onward 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)
















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