As a good friend of mine once said, there’s death metal and then there’s Incantation. As a band who are responsible for eleven great albums and at least five stone cold genre classics, it isn’t always easy to find anything else to say about then other than it’s FUCKING Incantation and you need to prepare yourself for some dark and dense death metal greatness. Their newest, Sect Of Vile Divinities is out on the 21st of August through the venerable Relapse Records.
The straightforward and streamlined steamroller of Ritual Impurity (Seven Of The Sky Is One) provides an instant reminder of how potent the songwriting has always been in Incantation. Sure, the smothering murk that often accompanies their greatest moments isn’t as immediate, but the pacing and soloing is impeccable, and when Propitiation arises from the blackness, the uncomfortable miasmic crawl is back, ready to absorb everything beneath it. There’s a certain elegiac beauty to this track, before the devastating battery of Entrails Of The Hag Queen bulldozes its way forward with the kind of bassy rumble you want in life.
But there is definitely some of their almost iconic murk and filth missing on this album. It feels like the band decided ‘let’s see what all this songwriting sounds like when we haven’t drowned it in mud’. To their credit, it almost works on tracks like the crawling crush of Unborn Ambrosia or the rabid snarling Chant Of Formless Dread. I can’t lie and say I don’t miss it a little bit though. It’s great they tried something a little different, but Incantation should make you feel like that lad’s horse in The Neverending Story. No, not the bit when it turns out it’s really ok. The bit where the life is slowly drowned out of you by unconquerable slime.
Incantation continue to prove themselves an essential cog in death metal’s history…
But if I’m going to bemoan the fact that Incantation sounds a little too clean here, I must admit that Sect Of Vile Divinities is still stunning and a definitive death metal album of the year contender. There’s a new appreciation to be found for their swaying, sickening doom riffing style that doesn’t always shine through the muddier productions. The band feel as vital now as they ever have and cleaning up their act has, if anything, unleashed a new virulence.
The bestial Furys Manifesto and the funeral dirge of Scribes Of The Stygian are just examples of how the old guard can still put all young whippersnappers to shame when asked, and Incantation continue to prove themselves an essential cog in death metal’s history, and its future.
Scribed by: Sandy Williamson