Thursday, June 19, 2014

Incantation: From Best to Worst

The Forsaken Mourning of Angelic Anguish (1997)

From the ending of 'Lusting Congregation of Perpetual Damnation (Eternal Eden)' through the brief interlude of 'Triumph of Blasphemy' and then the beginning of title track 'Forsaken Mourning of Angelic Anguish', I do believe that that is Incantation's most brilliant showcase throughout their entire career. For that section alone 'The Forsaken...' is by FAR my favorite Incantation release. Forget the fact that Craig Pillard is hardly "on top of his game". Forget the fact that I could have done without the "ok" cover of Death's 'Scream Bloody Gore. Forget the fact that this is merely an -ep-. The aforementioned musical passage is perhaps the most evil thing I've yet to hear from a death metal band. Shit, metal band period

Onward to Golgotha (1992)

Along with Immolation's debut 'Dawn of Possession', this put 'evil' death metal on the map. Forget all of the black metal bitches standing in front of the mirror trying to make sure they got their corpsepaint right. Though to be fair, 'Golgotha' sounds more like a boat-ride across the River Styx en route to Medusa's Isle more than it does a straight-up "satanic" album. Sure, all of the tell-tale signs of blasphemy and sacrilege are in order but there has always been that oppressive gloom hovering over Incantation's earlier work that the homo's in Norway could not even begin to fathom nor penetrate. 

Mortal Throne of Nazarene (1994)

Perhaps having an even more oppressive and dark atmosphere than 'Golgotha', 'Nazarene' is the epitome of doom and gloom. Craig Pillard's vocals here sound like an angry storm cloud emitting catastrophic woe upon the human masses gathered before him. All of the bizarre eccentricities introduced earlier by guitarist John McEntee are further explored and perverted this time 'round and the results are downright horrific. Trust me, choosing between this and 'Golgotha' is no easy task and I suppose that 'Golgotha' stole the number two spot merely for nostalgia's sake but make no mistake, this is every bit as frightening and grotesque as that album and perhaps it makes sense that it is hardly mentioned in conversations debating the band's classic albums as its darkness may be a bit to overwhelming for most to endure.

Deliverance of Horrific Prophecies (1991)

This was my first taste of the band's bitter fruits and it will always have a special place in my black heart. Worth hearing for the different ending in the title track. Tasty and rotten little morsel of old. 

Blasphemy (2002)

This is perhaps the band's final excursion into the labyrinthine confines of their earlier wave. After the frightfully bland 'The Infernal Storm' (not quite. More like a few rain drops) Incantation seemingly regrouped in order to reestablish the style and approach most dear to their hearts. While Mike Saez is no Craig Pillard by any stretch he does not offend either. I very much preferred him over Daniel Corchado whose blackened rasp I feared would be the end of Incantation. Thankfully and for whatever reason he was ousted and the next two albums would be fronted by Mike whose Pillard-"lite" vocal renditions fit in much better.

Some of the riffs and patterns on this album I rank among the band's best. The tortured harmonics are here in force as are some of the band's more colossal and depressing slabs of doom. Unfortunately, Saez' run with the band would come to an end shortly after thus ushering fourth the era of the John McEntee fronted Incantation. Gnarly and blasphemous album cover art (by former Incantation member and co-founder himself, Paul Ledney) and a much appreciated detour from Incantation's then go-to gal, Miran Kim.

Diabolical Conquest (1998)

Musically, this is on the same page as the first two albums. Vocally, however, this is a fucking abomination. How Incantation thought it was a good idea to replace Craig Pillard with Daniel Corchado is beyond me. Sure, Corchado used to sound good during his tenure with Cenotaph but the Corchado of '98 sounded like a haggard and used up whore whose throat had been irreparably banged up from years of gagging on cock for rocks. 'Diabolical Conquest', to me, is a lot like Entombed's 'Clandestine'. Great album marred by shitty vocals. This was also, in my opinion, the beginning of mediocre album covers painted by Miran Kim. Granted, it's still pretty sick (though I've never been a big fan of the cover's bird-faced cherub in the center of it all) but there's that gnawing feeling of 'been there, done that' every time I look at it.

Dirges of Elysium (2014)

Probably the best McEntee fronted Incant album, though really, at this point the band is WAY past their prime and really only circling the drain. McEntee sounds his most convincing here but unfortunately that's not sayin' much. There are a few moments, riff-wise, that I was genuinely surprised by in terms of, dare-I-say... "moving forward"? No, I doubt Incantation's been listening to Astra or The Dillenger Escape Plan, but they've gone so far down their own beaten path that even the most minute of changes seems otherwordly at this point. Minus the soul-stripping mix of Dan Swano and of course McEntee's vocals, this could've been a pretty damn good album. I do have to say, though... 'Dirges of Elysium' boasts one of my favorite Incantation album covers second only to 'Mortal Throne...' itself. That's one thing the band has, for the most part, consistently gotten right (with the exception of 'Primordial Domination').

Vanquish in Vengeance (2012)

In truth, this and the band's latest (Dirges of Elysium) are about even as far as quality goes. It's hard to pick one above the other. This one only scores less due to (surprise) McEntee's weaker vocal performance. Sure, it's not the catastrophic laugh-fest of previous albums, but I'm always going to long for the days of Craig Pillard. It's kinda sad considering that musically this aint bad at all. Nope. Not by a stretch. Also of note is the gnarly album cover courtesy of Worthless (ex-Deteriorot, Famine) which, to me, sort of hearkens back to 'The Forsaken Mourning of Angelic Anguish'.

The Infernal Storm (2000)

Where Diabolical Conquest had good music and shitty vocals, The Infernal Storm was a reverse scenario. The Infernal Storm is by fucking FAR the most anemic of Incantation's sonic output. The guitars have a really wimpy sound to them, like they were tuned up by some technical/jazz faggot and the bass sound is very sterile and jacked up in the mix. Awful. The songs too are just unbelievably lame. There is ZERO of the storming evil of old here. The only thing good about this album are the vocals of Mike Saez who sounds like a slightly less menacing Craig Pillard which is STILL fucking better than the homo from the last album! Unfortunately, Saez input is not enough to save this sinking ship. Frankly, I figured it was all over for Incantation at this point and was pleasantly surprised with how good their next album, 'Blasphemy' turned out to be.

Decimate Christendom (2004)

This is the album where Lucky the Leprechaun himself decided to finally take control of mic duties. It seemed like the logical thing to do, sure, considering the revolving door of frontmen the band had gone through up until that point. Unfortunately, John McEntee possesses ZERO percentage of the power or menace required to be 'The Voice' of Incantation. Even the music here is merely a tired retread of the glories of old. Granted, there a a few moments of the genius of McEntee's riff-writing found here and there but I'm led to believe that the dual endeavor of singing and playing guitar forced John to write around his newfound responsibility as frontman therefore playing it safe. Another one of those Incantation albums that probably would've sounded better had they procured the services of a more fitting vocalist.

As if it were a sign of things to come, 'Decimate...' boasts what is easily the most bland and bloodless of Miran Kim's album covers.

Primordial Decimation (2006)

Small wonder that this would be the last Incantation album for five years. You could tell that they needed a break. The creative well had just about run dry and John's comical death metal "vocals" just really made a mockery of an already bad situation. Shit, even the shamefully generic album cover seems to serve as an omen of sorts. The beginning riff to the first song is about as good as it gets. After that, sayonara suckers. 

It's really hard for me to join in the festivities that praise this band for "remaining true" and "never changing" blah, blah, blah... because the truth is, they did change. They went from godly to mediocre. 


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