In the burning, hate-filled realm of death metal, there are some acts whose thrones are elevated above that of Pennsylvania legends Incantation, largely through commercial appeal and a reliance on gore and shock tactics. This would be a travesty were it not for the fact that Incantation have always seemed to belong in the shadows, stealthily lying in wait to envelop unsuspecting victims in their cavernous, suffocating wall of noise. Their influence on bands such as Dead Congregation, Father Befouled and Grave Miasma is plain to see, yet they have never been fully recognised for their monumental contribution to extreme music. Hopefully, the 9th full length release “Vanquish in Vengeance” will do something towards changing this sad state of affairs.
Opening track ‘Invoked Infinity’ picks up immediately where 2006’s “Primordial Domination” left off with a cacophony of sizzling leads, pummelling blastbeats and John McEntee’s feral growls setting the stage for nearly an hour of bullshit-free death metal done the way it should be. ‘Ascend into the Eternal’ nails the classic Incantation sound with mocking ease with strangled melodies emerging from the churning din as the pace drops to doom/death levels, creating an atmosphere of moody dread. Proceedings speed up again for the twisting riffs of ‘Progeny of Tyranny’ with Kyle Severn’s simplistic yet deadly effective drumming acting as a proverbial hammer to your fevered brow before the tortuous mid-paced riffing and strangled solos of ‘Transcend into Absolute Dissolution’ drags you down into the filth to witness exactly how foul the world is at the lowest levels.
The double volley of ‘Haruspex’ and the title track just keep bearing down on you with wave after wave of deadly, serrated riffs and drums that rattle like an advancing army of skeletal wraiths as McEntee grunts unintelligibly about the grim horror of religious dogma and its frequent justification for acts of evil, a theme explored throughout the album. The primitive, drawn out dirge of ‘Profound Loathing’ is instantly comparable to fellow brothers in grime Autopsy, and just goes to show how the old guard have the knack for doom-laden atmospheres down to a fucking tee. McEntee really opens his rotting throat on the chugging barrage that is ‘The Hellions Genesis’ while the zombified Bolt Thrower-isms of ‘From Hollow Sands’ attempt to cause as much damage as inhumanly possible in three minutes until we are smothered in the absolute darkness of album closer ‘Legion of Dis’, an epic crawl through blackened doom, intrusive feedback and spectral horror.
Few bands can hope to match what Incantation achieve so effortlessly on each of their albums; a feeling that death metal really is still dangerous, music that only freaks and psychos with dead bodies buried in their backyards play and listen to. “Vanquish in Vengeance” sounds like it could have come out in 1991 and calls bullshit on the legions of poseurs who disguise a paucity of ideas under a blizzard of fret-wankery and offal. This is death metal for the ages, and the masters have once again returned to view their unholy kingdom.