Old-school death metal band takes one possible interpretation of the genre, which is using elements of the process of order to express simple but inevitable deconstruction.

Onward to Golgotha

Production: Dulled but loud, as if pulled from tape.

Review: Grasping isolation through an enduring musicality which encodes the experiences leading to the decisions that make complacency inaccessible, and thus guarantee alienation, this album is like a Paradise Lost for underground metal, putting together the most base techniques of metalcraft with the highest abstractions of thematic abstraction paired to a biological sense of self-identification.

It is this self-identification more than the walls of layered distorted stringed instruments that immerses the listeners in this onrushing of sound that makes the thought of rejoining the herd hopeless; subtler than almost all death metal, it selects tempos and riff shapes to convey a sensation of being in a situation, more than trying to summarize the situation itself. As a result these riffs are nearly wallpaper: too simple to stand alone, they form recombinant strings which work like mathematical formulas, combining several concepts and translating them into a series of matrices of possibility that eventually distill to a final theme which, conveniently, pairs with the core melody of each work. And while it is not obvious to most, since often these riff pairs are only a few notes away from chromatic, the essence of this work is melody, which underlies the complex phrasing rendered columnar in texture by lightning tremolo strum: there is a narrative of note patterns moving toward independence through a field evenly laid with conceptualized exploits and riffs that just sounded cool and so got worked into the string of explanatory and declamatory slamming, thundering tokens. On top of it solos are thrown like high-speed slang, careless in sound but precise in effect.


1. Golgotha
2. Devoured Death
3. Blasphemous Cremation
4. Rotting Spiritual Embodiment
5. Unholy Massacre
6. Enchantment Of Evil
7. Christening The Afterbirth
8. Immortal Cessation
9. Profanation
10. Deliverance Of Horrific Prophecies
11. Eternal Torture
Length: 45:23

incantation onward to golgotha 1992 relapse
Copyright © 1992 Relapse

Not only do tempos have great variation, moving between a dirgelike trudge and a midpaced energy-building momentum toward a lawless rip so fast it seems to have no context in normal listening experience, but individual riffs have internal rhythms, both in the dopplerlike acceleration and deceleration of wristbending tremolo strum and in the tugging, nudging, organic pace with which chords change and left-hand effects are rendered upon fretted chords. When the music charges, it does so with an irrefutable synchronicity of bassy sound that overwhelms like a march of massed troops in unison, dropping inexorably into a cadence both infectious and threatening in its regularity. Fortunately, the percussionist here is adept at minimizing his role when appropriate, or using his basic but inventive beats to lead a pattern out of the frothing primal chaos of colliding sounds that births it. The band as a whole hold together tightly but without giving away the imminence of changes, or allowing their work to be melded into a single motion; it preserves its internal oppositions as well as its external opposition.

The demonic voice of Craig Pillard, resonating in cavernous architectonic constructions of low-end sound, harmonizes with the ratcheting explosivity of power chords played percussively at the end of a sequence of lengthy phrases without hard edges, adding texture to the list of opposites employed by this band to make a sound detached from all human worlds, something feral like nature but focused and lucid like a demonic entity. Riffs terminate themselves abruptly in the simplest possible counterpoint, or extend in decreasing intervals until harmonic entropy is reached; no technique is too base for this band, but no technique exists alone, being instead woven into a mesh of both the complex and the basic, the obscene and the abstract. Like most phenomenal metal albums, this grew organically in layers, and was refined to the point where every instant is as deliberate and stripped-down as the winding of a canyon carved by millions of years of waterflow. It is the best from Incantation, and an essential volume from the early years of death metal.

Diabolical Conquest

Production: Clear and edged.

Review: Industrial neoclassical metallists Incantation use modal stripes in counterpoint composition of music that without tell-tale harmonization to give away its construction, founds its design in melodic songwriting that expands themes around the roaring inferno of motion created by initial motivic impressions on the memory of expectation. In a method similar to that of ex-alma mater Havohej, the band with this album move toward matching conception with vision as they approach the sublimated fears of everyday existence in demonic and alienated view of the abyss as captured in streams of power chords balancing modal expectations chiastically in a counterpoint system. Abrupt and battering rhythms pass forward momentum to an contexture of precision drumming and hummingbird-strummed phrases of rising power chord attack.

In these songs the dominant voice is one of melodic composition, even when suppressing melodicity through overuse of chromatic and intervals, as all phrases serve melodic purpose in compositional structure although not necessarily aesthetic, although that might be considered a neoclassical take on ultra-nihilist music with a structuralist underpinning. Gravel-throated hellbeast vocals channel alternatingly doomy, epic and absurdist riff combinations which like those of progenitor Ledney (Havohej) emphasize the disturbed in the context of massive reductionism which levels elements of each idea at the whole to emphasize its essential paradox (attraction) and continuity (resolution).


1. Impending Diabolical Conquest
2. Desecration (of the Heavenly Graceful)
3. Disciples of Blasphemous Reprisal
4. Unheavenly Skies
5. United in Repugnance
6. Shadows of the Ancient Empire
7. Ethereal Misery
8. Unto Infinite Twilight/Majesty of Infernal Damnation
Length: 45:19

incantation diabolical conquest 1998 relapse
Copyright © 1998 Relapse

Notable for the band is advancement into harmonic texturing within songs and melodic composition with matching aesthetic as a method for interlude, connecting or severing consistency within threads of song to change texture and the bases upon which it will recontextualize. A familiar roaring voice from Daniel Corchado of Cenotaph sears the awkward groove this band make graceful and pushes forward with strength, to be answered in modulated matching cadences by strings and percussion. The disparate nature of patterns to this work and the similarity of appearance in which they are eventually stated hides the motivic and lyrical concept to this band which is continually unfolding in an information space within subtle changes of harmonic shape. While its aspect is one of the more extreme short of the ludicrous, its compositional design encodes an elegant and literal logic.

Forsaken Mourning of Angelic Anguish

Production: Smothered and smoky production melds a roaring pulse of tones into oppositional extremes of clarity in drums and lead guitar. This experiment in atmospherics requires poor production, or perhaps is only well served by it.

Review: Infernal metal with roots in both black and death metal traditions, Incantation have shaped songs from strips of scales in chords repeated at different paces, much like ex-members and primary influence Havohej. With their studied death metal poise and mastery of structural decomposition, Incantation assemble bizarre geometrics of song elements and combine them in effective, unfolding, and seamlessly narrative but simplistic and violent pieces.

In the way of most metal Incantation use simple elements out of the scale to build their riffs, often moving the same structures between different starting positions; however, where most metal will use a granular breakdown between these elements, or twist them in organic ways, this death metal band use strips of four to five power chords and play them on rigorously even rhythms despite mercurial tempo changes.


1. Shadows From the Ancient Empire (3:08)
2. Lusting Congregation Of Perpetual Damnation (Eternal Eden) (4:52)
3. Triumph in Blasphemy (Interlude) (0:20)
4. Forsaken Mourning Of Angelic Anguish (2:25)
5. Scream Bloody Gore (4:46)
6. Twisted Sacrilegious Journey Into Our Darkest Neurotic Delirium (0:51)
7. Outro (5:20)
Length: 21:42

incantation forsaken mourning of angelish anguish 1997 repulse
Copyright © 1997 Repulse

The charging monolithic and authoritative nature of this approach makes it terrifying alongside the low-bass rumbling vocals, degenerative bass growl, and shrieking torment of lead guitar that manifest themselves in strikingly even, yet erratically patterned, positions. In this style, four songs precede a Death cover, "Scream Bloody Gore," which is singularly excellent and shows the developmental eye of Incantation toward the subtleties of restaging a classic so deconstructively inspired. Further, this choice is brilliant in that as one of the more death metal Death standards, it emphasizes the similarities and directional advances of bands such as Profanatica, Incantation, Demoncy or Immolation.

With ambient sound texturing interludes and outro, this like every other Incantation release demands a response after the carefully narrative experience of the work. Where its instrumentalism or consistency might not be top notch, its approach to music explores one of the fundamental directions in which metal can still grow. Similarly to Havohej, this is idiot savantitude at its finest: the simplistic roaring madness which despite its ungainlyness seems assembled speaking a language of order as the implement of breakdown.

The Relapse version of this CD contains the following tracks from a live studio session featuring Craig Pillard of Ceremonium, the original vocalist on the Incantation classic "Onward to Golgotha." These are representative of the middle era of Incantation with the refinement in rhythm and arrangement that signifies adjustment through experience over time, and are heard clearly through reasonable garage/home studio production. Choice of cuts shows a frank and respectable recycling of what could be salvaged from the missing middle years of this foundational band. Tracklist: 8. The Ibex Moon (4:38), 9. Blasphemous Cremation (4:58), 10. Essence Ablaze (3:21), 11. Blissful Bloodshower (0:53); Length: 35:34.

1. Devoured Death
2. Profanation
3. Unholy Massacre
4. Blissful
5. United in Repugnance
6. Nefarious Warriors
7. Twisted Sacrilegious Journey into Our Darkest Neurosis
8. Abomination
9. Devoured Death
10. Entrantment Of Evil
11. Eternal Torture
12. Profanation
Tribute to the Goat (Elegy, 1999)
This live recording of Incantation in the studio with half of its first album lineup filled in by players from half of its most competent personnel shift in the last decade shows what makes this band formidable as a wall of sound, with vocalist Craig Pillard complementing the low-end roar of John McEntee's guitar with a torrent of bass distortion all his own. Songs from the first album predominate, with some exquisite borrowings from the uncelebrated regions of the band's rocky middle career. Drums are more rigid in playing but relaxed in timing, and guitars elaborate mildly in some areas upon standards and in others tighten up up on ideas previously only partially expressed in song. This is a view of Incantation that exhalts their strengths and corrects many previous weaknesses, and was a landmark en route to "Diabolical Conquest," which is arguably the second great work from Incantation. While this album does not quite match the intensity of "Onward to Golgotha," it does evoke that spirit and gives a different insight on some classic material with powerful sound as well as composition.

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