Metal has an abiding relationship with physical and geographical spaces. From the rolling cascades of the Pacific Northwest to the dense, foreboding forests of Norther Europe, metal has long championed music that not only exists in a specific physical place but is often consumed by it. Think the ice cold tremolo knives of Norwegian black metal, or perhaps the gentler wanderings of folk metal from across the globe, or the oppressively heavy and moderately paced trudging of Bayou sludge. To these ears, these are sounds that are intended to transport and project us into a physical space that often adds further distinction to the thematic and lyrical themes of the music. The same could be said of the music of Incantation, but opposed to feeling like the American East Coast from whence the band originates, the death metal legends have composed music for decades that feels as if it is slowly emerging from a deep, hellish cave. It is reverberating, dripping filth bathed in oppressive guitar work, echoing and cavernous vocals, and a seething, roaring rhythm section that feels like an earthquake. It is a sound shrouded in slow, creeping, all-consuming darkness that feels viscerally physical, and Incantation have molded and transformed this beastly noise into something close to perfection.
The following article is a collaboration between editors Jonathan Adams and Scott Murphy. Before we dive in, let’s make one thing clear—we and Decibel (“America’s only monthly extreme music magazine”) agree that 2017 has been an exceptional year for death metal. Jonathan has highlighted countless fantastic death metal albums this…
Most music nerds can name at least one instance where an album stopped them dead in their tracks. You know the feeling. Those moments when the mind slowly pushes out all other thoughts and daily duties that regularly clutter the brain in order to make ample room for complete and total fixation on one incredible piece of music. There’s no multi-tasking in this space, no working on our various outside projects with music happily and quietly occupying the background. Instead, the music muscles its way front and center. It is music at its most alive, vibrant, and commanding of our full attention. In those distinctly transcendent moments, the music is everything.
Welcome to Death’s Door! Please wipe your feet on the mat. This portion of hell is particularly bloody, and I will NOT mop the floor again today. Grab a stiff drink, pull up a chair of bones, and let’s sit around the roiling fires of eternal damnation whilst we discuss one of my favorite things: death metal. 2016 was a great year for the stuff. Blood Incantation. Ulcerate. Gorguts. Mithras. Yeah, it was a good time. Death metal as a whole has been experiencing a creative resurgence as of late, praise be to our loathsome and infernal overlords of metal. A quick glance at Bandcamp’s metal page or Spotify’s myriad of death metal playlists will provide a clear indication of just how widespread the resurgence of death metal has become, with dozens upon dozens of bands vying for your rage-filled attention. Our bloody cup runneth over, and there is much rejoicing.
We like to joke around here pretty constantly that the amount of quality music out there in the world for us to consume and critique is magnitudes more than we can possibly manage, that we are drowning in a sea of music and are suffering mightily for it. We are all the “Why can’t I hold all these limes?” guy.