Spawn of Possession
02. Where Angels Go Demons Follow
03. Bodiless Sleeper
04. The Evangelist
05. Servitude of Souls
06. Deus Avertat
07. Spiritual Deception
08. No Light Spared
Even though it is such a niche genre, technical death metal has many different flairs. The main versions seem to be as follows: there’s the balls-to-the-walls extreme route that bands like Beneath The Massacre and Brain Drill pursue; there’s the overly intricate progressive style whose torch is currently held by Obscura (previously by Gorguts); and finally, there’s the wanky/neoclassical/groovy style that Gorod, Necrophagist and The Faceless under which come together. Why did I just give this academic review of tech death? Obviously, there’s a point. Spawn of Possession are the epitome of tech death, bringing together all these faceted styles with a very unique sound and beauty. You can consider them to be cheating, because Christian Muenzner (who happens to be my favorite guitarist) is/was in Obscura and Necrophagist, but SoP were masters of the game even before he joined. Their previous release, 2006’s Noctambulant, is considered by many to be the best album in the genre.
But enough with the history lessons; Their newest release is titled Incurso, and the question is, does it stand tall when compared to its predecessor, and other albums that have come out since then?
The short answer is absolutely – this album is insane. The guitar work is unmatched; take the traditional prowess of classical composers, augment it with the insane excesses of Gorguts, and maybe you’ll get close. Nothing compares to the level of intricacy here; you could write a thesis purely on the composition of the guitars. Not only are they distinctly heavy and old-school-death-metal, but they are also simultaneously very neo-classical and jazzy and mental. Muenzner and Jonas Bryssling deserve infinite awards for their work. Not a single moment is predictable and tired, yet it is all comprehensible and beautiful – all the while staying true to death metal. Nothing is forced; every riff flows elegantly.
The production is similar to that of Noctambulant, highlighting every single note and sounding like muddy old school death metal at the same time. How is it muddy and clear at the same time? I have no clue.
Even though the biggest influences are obviously Gorguts and classical music, you can easily tell that Muenzner has a strong influence in some riffs and solos, and his style fits right in Incurso’s crazy journey. Closing track ‘Apparition‘ features orchestral elements and (I’m sorry to say this, but) at times, puts Fleshgod Apocalypse‘s masterpiece Agony to shame. This is how you do classical death metal.
All of these points also apply to the bass work. Erlend Caspersen, who is a veteran of technical death metal, shines. He is always very audible and adds a lot to the music. His work here is comparable to Obscura at times, and at times he just goes full on death metal and rips the song apart. There are also bass solos, in typical tech death fashion. I tell you, this album is an absolute guitarnerdgasm.
As you might expect, the drumming is also out of this world. It’s clear that Henrik Schönström can play along with the fastest, but he doesn’t always do it. This is usually what differentiates good death metal from bad. Just because you can go beyond lightspeed doesn’t mean you should – sometimes you need to let the music breathe so that the heavy parts are better emphasized. I also wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the drums were recorded acoustically, which, given the precision and speed of the work here, is mindblowing. Most tech death bands use triggers – which often fall foul of bad samples – but yet again, in OSDM fashion, the drumming sounds incredibly natural.
Most of this could have been said about Noctambulant too. If I were Spawn Of Possession, I’d be extremely intimidated by Noctambulant, seeing how it’s pretty much the perfect tech death album. However, I don’t know if it’s Muenzer or not, but Incurso is better. The songs are more coherent and over the top, and the production is brilliant. There’s more variety and more insanity, and if someone asked me for the ultimate tech death album, I’d point them to Incurso.
Yes, this album is a lot to swallow, because it’s a lot of things simultaneously. It’s raw death metal, insane guitar work, classical music, and jazz — but it’s phenomenal at everything it tries to be, and when you put all the elements together, it’s much more than the sum of its parts. This album is, in one word, unbelievable. Unbelievably good. Dammit, it’s the best tech death album ever. EVER.
Spawn of Possesion – Incurso gets…