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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!