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Not astounding, but definitely not in vain. - 70%

hells_unicorn, August 1st, 2011

Clichés are a tough thing to truly have a definitive opinion on, one can literally either fall in love with a band that revels in them, or be turned off and annoyed at one for the same reasons. Television and radio have been the deciding factor on which clichés are unacceptable, both because of over-repetition and the insult at one’s sensibilities at having their culture dictated to them in a one-sided fashion. Incassum, an independent band out of the UK, has essentially embraced several various familiar devices that present a composite form of an all too familiar cliché to anyone who remembers that popular trend amongst black and death/doom bands in the 90s known as the “beauty and the beast” duet approach.

To the band’s credit, their self-released EP “In Vain” doesn’t fall into the usual traps of over-simplified devices that are all too common amongst melodeath bands such as Arch Enemy, a band to which they could be fairly easily compared. The songs do take some occasions to pick up and get a little riff happy, perhaps most notably on “Space To Breathe” which shows some latent thrash tendencies at times, but most of the songs tend to go at a moderate pace and relying on the usual mixture of rhythmic grooves and melodic drones. The structuring is somewhat asymmetrical, though not fully out of conventional practices, and takes some occasions to allow the guitar work to shine.

Perhaps the biggest and best point of contrast in this band’s formula is the way that the clean vocals are employed. When Sharleen Kennedy is not engaging in the stereotypical melodeath growl, which is raunchy but still somewhat feminine, she often resembles former Sirenia vocalist Henriette Bordvik, whose sorrowful soprano gave “An Elixir For Existence” its gothic femme fatale charm. Sharleen’s vocal range is a little bit more localized and hangs around a very limited note set, actually giving off a similar vibe of consistency to that harsh style that she employs alongside drummer John Curran’s more guttural, traditional bark. This is the sort of music that is just varied enough to not put you in a trance, yet almost as restrained as a typical Gothenburg band.

This isn’t quite up to the status of being an absolutely necessary purchase, but it is relatively well pulled off and is varied at least a little from the usual tricks that pass for melodeath today. Some of these songs tend to coast on a little bit and have few climactic moments, but “The Beckoning”, “Space To Breathe”, and the more varied title song “In Vain” have some good solid ideas pushing them along that garner about the same effect as a decent offering from middle-era Children Of Bodom, minus the keyboards and the shred fests of course. They’re definitely not an At The Gates, but they’re not bad.