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Screw the "test of time", this is Incantation! - 99%

redless, October 4th, 2012

Before I start with the interview, I would like to thank my lovely Regy for giving me this album, as well as The Infernal Storm and Decimate Christendom as a gift for my name day. You are the best, honey :)

Now, to the record itself; well, everyone always talks about Onward to Golgotha and Mortal Throne of Nazarene, as being Incantation's most important albums. And probably that's true, since they more or less defined the band's sound, and as there are dozens of bands worshipping this sound, it doesn't take a lot of insight to comprehend the magnitude of the impact these albums had on the evolution of death metal. As such, Diabolical Conquest's beauty is frequently overlooked.

First of all, I have to accept the fact that many fans might have the word "Incantation" inscribed in their minds right next to the words "Craig Pillard". And I also have to accept that Craig Pillard is one hell of a vocalist, easily occupying one place in my "top 5 death metal vocalists" list. But Daniel Corchado (from Mexican death dealers The Chasm) is also a hell of a vocalist. And, to be honest, the production values of Diabolical Conquest would be incongruous with Pillard's sepulchral voice (got the reference? hehe).

Diabolical Conquest, unlike Onward to Golgotha, features a less swampy guitar sound. The tempos are also faster in general, being closer to modern "old-school death metal", like Ignivomous or Dead Congregation, than to old-school death metal itself. Of course, it's not Incantation's fault, since those bands were actually influenced by Incantation's heritage. The most distinguishing feature of Incantation's music, except for the tremolo riffs, is their ability to put those riffs in order seamlessly, which is a quality that most older bands lacked, however interesting they were: Death, Nocturnus, fuck, even Morbid Angel in their debut! Tempo changes are all over the place, and yet the tunes are as catchy as all The Numbers of the Beasts, all the Raining Bloods and all the Painkillers of this world. I reassure you, using tempo changes requires some talent and can be tricky, a fact that becomes evident if we consider that every single Incantation song RULES whereas (almost) every Dream Theater song SUCKS. The fast paced parts create a feeling similar to the one I would get when I was reading Dante's "Inferno" from the Divine Comedy - torture, pain, agony. The doomier riffs craft a "back from/to the grave" kinda atmosphere, the choice of "from" or "to" lying in the ear of the listener. The bass is pounding and even groovy at moments, but don't except Obituary-like groove... Well, Incantation pioneered this kind of groovy feeling in death metal so if you haven't listened to anything by them... die. Finally, the drumming features great variation, ranging from uber-fast blasting to necro levels of slowness. The sound of the skins is almost ceremonial at times.

Now, this very period is dedicated to "Desecration (of the Heavenly Graceful)" for being one of my favoutite Incantation songs, and for being everything Ignivomous stands for before Ignivomous themselves thought about it. Of course Ignivomous is not to be underestimated, they kill.
And this one is dedicated to "Unto Infinite Twilight / Majesty of Infernal Damnation" for being one of my two favourite death metal long-ass beasts alongside Diocletian's "Fortress of the Unconquerable". Thanks for your attention.

The bottom line:
The darkness is there. The bleakness is there. What puts this album apart from the earlier stuff of the band? Well, it's the fact that the overall impression this album makes on the listener is 2% less heavy and 2% most edgy than the earlier efforts. Is it worthy of your attention and time? Totally. The 1% minus is for the 30 seconds that I need to get in the mood of Unheavenly Skies, being the least special thing on the whole album. But fuck that, it's probably just me. Incantation is the best death metal band of their generation alongside Immolation and this album is in a store, waiting for YOU to go and buy it. And then it will beat your brain to a pulp. Beastly and ferocious. Total respect!

classic death metal - 95%

Daemonlord, July 4th, 2011

Incantation are somewhat of an institution in the world of Death Metal. Even though their career has been plagued with line-up changes, occasional dips in form and record label wrangles, John McEntee and co. still keep on plugging away with the same drive and uncompromising vision they had from the get go. Most people sing the praises of the band's debut more than any other of their releases, but for me, their 1998 release "Diabolical Conquest" saw them hit the jackpot.

Featuring the talents of The Chasm frontman Daniel Corchado on bass and vocals, "Diabolical Conquest" had all the crushing riffs, throat tearing vocal work and percussive destruction to make even the casual fan of Death Metal sit up and pay attention. Wrapped in a thickly claustrophobic aura, the album has an impressive feeling of barely controlled chaos at times, with razor-sharp riffs spinning and slicing through the air threatening to eviscerate at will. The main thing with Incantation however is their ability to draw the listener in with their powerful atmospheres, which invoke the most dissipated iniquity you could possibly imagine. With "Diabolical Conquest" you can almost imagine a ghostly black arm manifesting from your speakers during playback, reaching towards you with its whispy smoke-like fingers in an attempt to drag you back to whichever malevolent realm it emerged from. Either that, or those weren't paracetamol that I've just taken. But anyway, I digress. Ending things off with "Unto Infinite Twilight / Majesty of Infernal Damnation", it's plain to hear that Incantation penned one of the most devastatingly epic Death Metal tracks ever recorded. Hell, even Vital Remains would blush at the sheer scale of it.

Whichever way you look at it, Incantation certainly got their sound down pat on this album. The force of their attack is as destructively vicious as it ever was, and the overall feeling you get after listening to it makes you question whether the album's blueprint was originally buried in some dark chasm, written in ancient scrolls and inked in virgin's blood. Good shit.

Originally written for www.metalcrypt.com

Black/Death/Doom never sounded so good - 100%

optimuszgrime, February 28th, 2008

This is one of those relatively rare albums that I cannot find a single fault with. I am relatively easy to please, and I always judge albums by their aim and in their achieving their aim, but this album I can judge next to other albums, or even alone by itself as being a momentous achievement in metal history. It has been named Incantation’s best, and it is a statement that is very hard to refute. Every song is a classic. Every riff is killer. Not a single moment of this album can be categorized as ‘filler’ material, all of it is absolutely stunning and will hold your attention. The guitars are basically black metal guitars that do not sound shitty and have been tuned down a bit, but still they retain some fuzz and some raw, harsh sounding overtones. The bass is nicely layered into the guitar work. The drums stand out as totally different and are easy to listen to, and the vocals are deep, not so gurgly as just pure Craig Pillard driven insanity, surprisingly not delivered by Craig. But this guy does just as good a job, even if his voice is a little bit different then the original, and judging from the vocal patterns, intended singer. And of course they still stayed with the sound of the old school American vein of death metal, sounding like a more polished version of bands such as Goreaphobia, Immolation, and Rottrevore with a touch of doomishness in the vein of Winter. The classic Incantation sound to which they have stayed true to even to this day. The riffs are a little bit black metal, a little bit doom, and a whole hell of a lot of blasphemous death metal riffage that weighs somewhere around 10, 000 tons!
I am almost compelled to go through each track one at a time and comment on how incredibly awesome all of them are and point out all of the awesome riffs in all of these songs. I am going to pick four, because of their weirdness and as they stand out even on such an album as this where there are, as I have mentioned, no fillers what so ever. The opening track has some of the most solid wall-to-wall riffage off of any Incantation song, which is saying a lot. There is a black metal riff that they bust out, and there is a slow section with double bass pumping some mid-tempo parts under the slow ass riffing. The vocals under the black metal riff make my hairs stand on end. The vocals elsewhere in the song sound like death it’s fucking self.
The instrumental track entitled ‘Unheavenly Skies’ is best noted for the awesome riff in it, it does just consist of variations on this one melody, but the melody itself captures the very essence of death/doom metal. It is melancholy yet not graceful, it is an ugly ass, misanthropic riff, yet brooding and could be categorized as ‘melodic’. The switches in it are very nice and the entire song swallows up your brain.
The next track, which is probably my favorite is ‘Shadows of the Ancient Empire’. This track has rhythmic switches in the beginning and this dense mid-tempo riff which is interspersed with a quicker riff, which has the quality of a prophetic seizure. That riff sounds like the march of the living dead to me, that is always the riff I imagine that happening to. The rest of the song goes on to some awesome mid-tempo chug-chug, and also great double bass parts and some big heavy open chord smash riffing as well.
The last track on the album is sixteen minutes long, and then some. It is fucking retarded. It starts off as a doom track, purely, and then goes on to bring in some layered black metal guitar work, coupled with some pretty technical brakes form the riff itself, and then snapping right back into the doomish feeling vibe, and then when your mind has been put to ease, Incantation bust out one of the fastest riffs on their album!
Some really potent stuff, I highly recommend it. I do believe it to be perhaps their best, but if not, then certainly their catchiest material to date. An absolute classic which does not disappoint, and also will make you shit bricks.

A Truly Impending Diabolical Conquest - 99%

orphy, July 11th, 2007

Back in the late 90s, a lot of classic death metal bands from the earlier half of the decade appeared to be falling from grace. This was truly a test of time for a lot of bands, where bands had to either be consistent, or innovative. Incantation chose the former of those two choices, yet was still innovative within their own sound.

What we have here is Incantation's second masterpiece, the first being "Onward to Golgotha". It's not often a band writes one, let alone two, masterpiece albums. Incantation took the framework of their previous works, and expanded on it. With the addition of a powerful line-up, this album was destined to be astounding. Kyle Severn is once again on the kit after his introduction on the "Forsaken" EP, and does an astounding job with his scissor blasts among other drum work. Daniel Corchado (of the Chasm) delivers some evil vocal performances, bass, and fills out the second guitar. And of course John McEntee commands this line-up with his jagged riffing and supreme song writing.

Anyway, let's get on to the actual music. The album features many characteristic parts that make so well done. Compared to previous works, there are more tremolo picked riffs, which twist around diminished scales, which create some very diabolical sounding melodies. Juxtaposed overtop are equally twisted melodies which lay about an octave or so higher, following their own phrasing, yet end up fusing together with the main riff to form a perfect fit. Drums blast through these riffs, enhancing the jaggedness of them. An excellent example of this lies on the opening track's first riff. Riffs like this make up a good part of the album, which turn out to be an excellent basis for the album.

The doom sections on this album are a lot more impending than ever. Kyle Severn really lowers the tempo on the drums and lets the guitars do the talking. This makes for quite the counterpoint compared to the ripping death metal riffs presented next to it. Incantation has always been known for this technique, but they've definitely perfected it here. One can see this technique at it's best on the album's 16+ minute opus, "Unto Infinite Twilight/Majesty Of Infernal Damnation". Although this song is filled with mostly doom sections, one can here many other songs that feature some slower doom parts.

Another technique Incantation uses throughout the album is having one guitar play a crushing, open rhythm where the lead guitar comes in with a diminished melody in between chords. This is extremely effective as it gives a lot of power and contrast within the songs. Again, pointing at the last track, this is done with excellence. The drums follow the riffs in an interesting pattern. Bass drums will follow the lead melody in double bass madness, where the ride cymbal is relaxed, making the open rhythm seem even more open. An excellent juxtaposition.

There are a lot of standout tracks here. In fact, every song has something interesting to offer. "Disciples Of Blasphemous Reprisal" opens up with an excellent riff that makes great use of pinch harmonics. "Unheavenly Skies" has some excellent melancholic phrasing, making it a great interlude. "Shadows of an Ancient Empire" (a song from the "Forsaken..." EP) features a great aggressive drum part where the guitars against it are open, making for an interesting contrast. "Ethereal Misery" features an excellent stop part which is nice and open, and then leads to a groove based riff. The list goes on, this album is full of great arrangements and riffs.

Everything is top notch about this release. I've neglected to talk about the lyrics yet, which also live up to the rest of the album. Although at times they can be brief, they are effective in topics of blasphemy, anti-Christianity, the typical Incantation themes. It's all very fitting to the atmosphere presented by the album, and does the job in conveying its message.

Whoever hasn't heard this album and considers themselves a death metal fan is truly missing out on one of the finest albums ever recorded. Everything from the riffs, arrangements, lyrics, and performances is of excellence. Fans of early 90s death metal will find use for this album, as will fans of modern death metal. The production won't bother anyone either, as it is clear but natural. Get it immediately!

Just When I Thought They'd Peaked... - 90%

brocashelm, April 27th, 2006

Boasting some new blood on the altar, John McEntee’s conglomeration of death metal blasphemers marches onward, ever onward. I mentioned earlier in my review of Upon The Throne Of Apocalypse that after album's release, the entire membership sans McEntee jumped ship. I don’t know why and I don’t care, only that it slowed the band’s progress a touch. But after a stop gap release with 1996’s Forsaken Mourning Of Angelic Anguish (some new cuts, some old, some covers) Diabolical Conquest found recently added Kyle Severn to the drum seat, and a guest bassist/vocalist in Daniel Corchado, who for all intents and purposes is Mexico’s first man of death metal, having worked with Cenotaph and eventually forming the formidable Chasm. And here he works out just perfectly, added his satanic sermon voice to the Incantation experience.


“Impending Diabolical Conquest” sets the stage for all that is to come, which includes two very unexpected twists in the band’s book of lies. First a semi-melodic, brief instrumental passage titled “Unheavenly Skies,” which is remarkably memorable upon first hearing, and secondly a 17-minute (yes, you heard right) doom-death monster entitled “Unto Infinite Twilight/Majesty Of Infernal Damnation.” As may be expected, this number goes through a number of movements in it’s life span, from super slow, yet oddly melodic (by Incantation’s concept of melodic) opening, into a trudging riff erection, followed by a healthy blasting section, and finally an almost ethereal fade out that lasts for some time. The album’s remainder is prime cut death metal, perhaps “Ethereal Misery” being the finest moment of straight ahead material, and I must stress that once again the sound is in the beautifully disgust filled aural assault we all love this band for possessing.

The band's finest hour? Could be. They haven't topped it yet, and only time will tell if it's in their demonic will to do so.

Incantation's best? Quite possibly. - 87%

chaossphere, December 9th, 2003

In my view, Diabolical Conquest stands tall above the bulk of Incantation's subtantial output. There are two very specific reasons for this: the first is the participation of The Chasm mastermind Daniel Corchado, who lends his gravel-laden vocals and excellent basswork, as well as some additional guitar parts and co-writing on a few songs. The second is the existence of the massive, crushing, awe-inspiring 17-minute epic "Unto Infinite Twilight/Majesty Of Infernal Damnation" - a true masterpiece of epic death fucking metal which remains a part of their set to this day. Boasting a much clearer, beefier production than any Incantation album before or since, Diabolical Conquest quite simply crushes all in it's path.

Aside from the enormous aforementioned closing track, there are no real standouts on this album - not that this is a problem, mind you. Incantation has never been particularly concerned with writing catchy tunes which stick in your mind for days on end. Rather, they simply focus on creating solid, no-nonsense death metal, alternating wildly between blasting chaos and leaden, monotone sludge, with plenty of squealing pinch-harmonics thrown in for good measure. That said, "Impending Diabolical Conquest" and "Ethereal Misery" are two songs which stand out a bit - the former being a bludgeoning freight-train of a song which rolls over you with maximum force, and the former starts out in a tremolo frenzy before morphing into a demented stop-start section, slowing things down to a squashing crawl - then back to tremolo madness and blasting to close things out. Otherwise, the last song is the true killer here. Every second of this epic monstrosity is designed to pulverize your eardrums, and succeeds quite aptly at it's task.

Overall, if you were only to own one Incantation disc, this is definitely the one to go for. Their latest offering, Blasphemy, is nearly as good, but doesn't quite reach the stunning heights of brutal insanity they reached with Diabolical Conquest.