Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Incantation - Dirges of Elysium (2014)

'Dirges of Elysium' finds Incantation further exploring the territory mapped out on their last album, 'Vanquish in Vengeance'. It's strange because on one side of the coin the band have matured dramatically, even within the small time that has passed from their last album to this and yet there are moments scattered throughout that come across as rather bland and seem not to bother to penetrate the imagination but are just sort of there as a last minute attempt to fill in the gaps.

Now, anyone familiar with my previous reviews for Incantation are undoubtedly privy to my dissatisfaction with John McEntee's work on the mic. I've always felt that he possessed no real vocal power and at times sounded catastrophically goofy. I cannot say that he has fully transcended these criticisms but I was definitely surprised to hear him cough up his strongest performance to date. It sounds as if he finally gave up on attempting to match the low-end of former Incant vocalist Craig Pillard and decided to concentrate more on 'power'. I have to say that I am fairly impressed by this. However, John has continued to embellish each song with his now familiar and highly annoying rasp and as long as he does that no Incantation album will come close to the dizzying heights of 'Golgotha' or 'Nazarene'.

The other downer that has plagued Incant since 'The Infernal Storm' is the neutered guitar sound they've been working with. Yeah, yeah, everyone from here to Timbuk 2 will be singing praises about how accurate this album is to Incantation's long and glorious career and sure, everybody's entitled to their opinion but the fact of the matter is that Incant hasn't truly sounded gloomy in quite some time.

I do have to give the band a mighty grip of props for yet again blowing my mind in the album cover department. Holy shit!!! I am simultaneously reminded of former Incantation go-to gal Miran Kim as well as Larry Carrol's work with Slayer. Absolutely stunning! The band really cracked it outta the park with this one.

'Dirges of Elysium' is not a bad album and I'm glad to see these guys back so quickly after their previous full-length but unfortunately this is just not the type of shit I want to hear from them. The album (along with everything Incant's released since '04) would not sound so bad with a better, more convincing vocalist but once McEntee emits one of his shrieks I am bummed beyond belief. From Pillard to this. Oddly enough, I find at least a few of the bands that have steadfastly emulated (robbed) Incantation's sound to be infinitely more compelling at this point. Oh well, there's always vanilla.

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