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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!