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Tempted by the snake - 98%

slayrrr666, February 5th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, Digital, Relapse Records (Remastered)

The debut full-length from New Orleans death/thrashers Incubus offers some absolutely engaging work that was simply beginning to take shape as the roots of death metal were still being explored and developed. While the music might still be considered thrash for the most part, the absolutely phenomenal work throughout here at developing the kind of tight, vicious thrash-based riffing gives this such a sense of boundless energy and full-throttle speed during their rampaging moments that there’s a genuine sense of chaotic energy apparent throughout this as there’s an unhinged and reckless piece of enthusiasm given to what’s on display here. This creates a series of savage, primitive riffs played at rather ferocious tempos all the while being augmented by blasting drumming and rabid, snarling vocals that are dirtier and far more demonic than most true thrash bands were doing at the time, truly giving this a feel more in line with where death metal was going than in staying in league with the thrash scene at the time. The groundwork for the genre is there in the unbridled speed and aggression that were to be found in the later works from the Floridian pioneers still experimenting with these sounds which would come into greater prominence in the next couple years that would solidify the genre as a whole, making this one of the most important and influential titles in the genre’s history.

The songs here are all top-notch without much deviation. Opener ‘The Battle of Armageddon’ offers a fine sampled-battlefield effect before launching into a tight, crunchy mid-tempo blast of thrashy riffing and steady, thumping drumming twisting through vicious, twisting and biting rhythms taking the complex rhythms and dynamic change-ups along through the frenzied solo section into the mad thrashing of the finale for an absolutely stellar opening here. ‘Voices from the Grave’ features a savage mid-tempo crunch with a truly unrelenting series of drum-blasts that go alongside the utterly frantic riff-work that takes on plenty of thrashing up-tempo patterns as the dynamic rhythm changes into frantic full-throttle blasting in the final half for another truly enjoyable effort. ‘Sadistic Sinner’ rages through intense, frantic riff-work and blasting drumming at a full-throttle tempo with dynamic rhythm changes as the furious riff-work charges along at a steady pace with the frantic patterns flaying along through the frenzied solo section on through the mid-tempo charging of the frantic finale for another stellar track. The utterly frantic ‘Incubus (Opprobrium)’ features tight, raging thrash and explosive rhythms with the utterly blasting drum-work and frenzied razor-wire riffing featuring scalding rhythms full of severely discordant riff-work alongside the blistering drumming soon settles into a fine mid-tempo chug that blasts back into the frenzied final half for a truly chaotic and frenetic effort.

The second half as well contains as much good stuff as the first half. ‘Blaspheming Prophets’ features schizophrenic drumming and razor-wire thrash riffing that soon takes into a fine mid-tempo gallop with tight, crunchy riff-work and a series of scalding thrash riff-work bristling with spectacular mid-tempo riffing and dynamic soloing leading through the steady finale for a much-less chaotic but still highly enjoyable experience. ‘Hunger for Power’ uses a thumping mid-tempo charge with simple drumming and fiery riffing with plenty of frenetic thrash riffing that soon settles nicely into a bouncy mid-tempo charge with scalding rhythm changes amid plenty of blasting drumming bringing the furious drumming into the solo section as the frantic rhythms continue through the final half for a heavy, thumping and enjoyable effort. The utterly frantic title track utilizes raging mid-tempo riffing turns into utterly rampaging drumming with chaotic razor-wire riffing amid blasting rhythms and blistering speed-driven patterns that continually hammer away during the chaotic solo section and carries on through the charging finale for one of the most impressive and enjoyable efforts here. Finally, ‘Underground Killers’ uses a swirling razor-wire riff alongside blasting drumming that settles into a rather frenetic up-tempo series of rhythms with the minor melodic riffing in the mid-section to lead into the rather schizophrenic solo section blasting through the furious riff-work running through the steady final half which ends this one on a high note.

This is one of the most essential and important releases in the history of the genre, not just because of the lasting influence it’s left behind by having scores of imitators taking cues from this release but also by containing such admittedly impressive material in the first place that it’s a truly timeless release, definitely worth picking up if you’re a true blue dyed-in-the-wool death metal fanatic or looking to get away from all the retro/throwback acts and give the real thing a chance.