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When people speak of classic albums of the brutal death genre, usually names like Suffocation, Immolation, or Gorguts pop up. Incantation rarely gets mentioned in such discussions, which is a real shame- this album is definitely one of the best brutal death albums in existence.
The focus here is on the riffing- and in the riffing, there’s a sampling of all sorts of brutal DM styles. It’s got Immolation style “part harmonic-based chord, part lead” riffs (see the first riff in “Golgotha”, and the riff 30 seconds into “Blasphemous Creation”), it’s got the insanely twisted atonal riffs of Gorguts (see the first riff on “Rotting Spiritual Embodiment”, the riff at 2:32 of “Golgotha”, and the first bit of “Entrantment of Evil”), the somewhat more straight-forward Suffocation style riffs with some thrash melodies underneath (most riffs on Devoured Death being good examples), as well as Suffocation’s doomier style (second riff of Rotting Spiritual Embodiment), mixed up with their own style of brutal but melodic riffs and even a touch or two of early Morbid Angel- all delivered with a flair of originality and a more evil sound than most of those bands, except for the Immolation- those riffs tend to have a slightly grittier, dirtier texture than those in Immolation. Pace wise, it tends to be mid to fast paced, with occasional doomier sections thrown in. Leads don’t tend to stick out in front of the rhythm lines so much as they do on most albums, and are somewhat closer to typical metal traditions in their note choice, rather than using the insane atonality that's popular among the NYDM crowd.
Drums don’t “overplay” in the least- they can go fast and frantic when called for, but through the slower riffs they either tend to resort to more complex, slower patterns that work quite well.
Vocals are a bassy roar- not so inhuman sounding as Suffocation, but sort of in between that and the more human-grunted sound of Immolation. Bass isn’t much of an issue, as it’s hardly distinguishable from the guitars, and basically acts to back them up.
Structurally, it’s similar to Suffocation- songs are made up of two opposing motifs that are juxtaposed against each other, and those two motifs evolve while still contrasting each other, with reprisals thrown in at logical places, helping to keep the whole thing unified. These guys do it even better than Suffocation, though- songs flow much better and are more unified than Suffocation’s, and have a stronger unique identity than Suffocation’s songs tend to.
Production is what can be expected for this sort of thing- thick, murky, low pitched guitars (although it still captures tone better than the production of most other NYDM from this time period), vocals and drums fairly flat in the mix along with them.
All this combines to create an album that truly lives up to the term “death” metal- unlike most “aggressive oh-so-brutal” band, this truly succeeds at conveying the imminence of death. As the title of this review notes, it’s an overlooked classic that should be in the collection of anyone who likes brutal death in the least.