Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Incantation - Vanquish in Vengeance

Incantation, possibly my favorite old-school death metal band, is based out of Pennsylvania. They made their name as part of the New York death metal scene, alongside the likes of Suffocation and Immolation. This week, the masters returned with their first full-length release in six years, Vanquish in Vengeance.

In many respects, this is the same Incantation we've grown to know and love over these past two decades. The riffs are still crushingly heavy, the vocals roar their way through the tracks, and the band collectively produce an ugly beast of a record. At this point, it would be moot to point out that I've always preferred the days when Craig Pillard was on vocals, because he's been gone for so long that it's no longer a relevant issue when discussing the band.

What's new here is the cleaner, sharper production. Some people have embraced this move into the modern world, but I have to admit I'm not totally sold on it myself. The murky, muddy, oppressive sound Incantation always maintained was a big selling point in my mind, and on this release that is largely absent. I'm not one to let production ruin a record for me unless the violation is really extreme, so I'm willing to accept this new turn, but that doesn't mean I'm thrilled about it.

Strangely, this review looks kind of negative so far. It shouldn't, though, but I actually did like this record. Incantation are fantastic practitioners of their art, and they bring the pain on this record. It's dark, heavy, and powerful. I guess the reason I'm dwelling on the negative is that it's not their darkest, heaviest, or most powerful. Over the past couple of years, several old names in the death game have really stepped up and released some monumental slabs of punishment. Sadly, that is not really the case here.While this record gives no signs that the band is slowing down, it doesn't really step up and impress, either.

Grade: B
It's good. Incantation are always good. But it's nothing particularly special.

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