Author: T.K. White
Band: Blood Incantation
Genre: Death Metal
Label: Dark Descent Records
Wow, what do I even say about this record? I mean, it’s so hard to describe, yet unquestionably good. No doubts, but that is something Blood Incantation is used to. With a handful of demos dating back from 2013, and EP and a split in 2015, this year we finally see what Blood Incantation at their largest. Or should I say most expansive? Either way, there is no question that the album is phenomenal.
The opener of the album really sets the tone of the album, right from the opening growl and the opening Obituary-esque grove, you know you are in for a stellar ride. (Pun intended). The band’s hilariously poignant homage to the ODSM band that took their Lovecraftian mythos a little too seriously (Trey) adds to the layers of intrigue the band garners; some of that intrigue comes from the band’s spatial and galactic interests, which, in these times, can be very gimmicky, and unfortunately executed poorly. Blood Incantation differ from that because they don’t try and appeal to the new age scene and their backwards snapback hats, instead the band exchanges the “prog” tag for Incantation-inspired atmospheres. Now, despite sharing a name with the aforementioned band, I wouldn’t call them one of the Incantation clones, but rather they took an aspect of Incantation and made it uniquely their own.
Musically, you’re going to get exactly what you expect from a band titled Blood Incantation with an album called Starspawn and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably already heard the album—if you haven’t, fix that—but to me the album is almost beautiful. Which is an odd descriptor for an album I have said sounds like getting trapped in a swamp and yelled at by a swamp monster. Now, when I saw swampy, I am not saying that it sounds like a band like Chthe’ilist because they’re not a clone, from a production standpoint, yes both bands are incredibly swampy, and however, where Chthe’ilist has a murky guitar tone to them, Blood Incantation sounds more lunar.
The album as a whole is very, very consistent—borderline perfect—no riff lasts too long or too short. Take “Hidden Species (Verification of Blood Pt. 2), the intro riff lasts just long enough to catch the listener’s ear before transitioning into the next (of many) riff(s to come). Vocally, I couldn’t have asked for anything more or better. Personally, I love reverberated vocals. Yes, at times it can be a bit overdone, but not on Starspawn. Here, Paul Riedl, does everything I want from a death metal vocalist. His lows are deep and bellowing, but when he does go into a higher octave its noticeable, but not because its grating, but because it’s refreshing. Same with the very sparse clean/whispered passages that sprinkle themselves throughout the tracks. Just as I greatly enjoy the sprinkling vocal variety, I really love when the guitars makes use of the flanger effect. To me, every time the flanger shows up, I just picture the sound of a rocket taking off or preparing to reinter earth. It genuinely has prolonged explosive character to it and it’s wonderful. Equally as pleasurably is the clean interludes. No, the band does not Opeth-ian, but instead the clean passages act more as a dichotomy for the music. You see, there is so much density, so much darkness to the riffs and vocals, that the clean passages act and sound like twinkling stars in an ever-expanding, dense, black galaxy. No clichés there, right? But it works. It genuinely works.
Honestly, sometimes when I listen to this record, I get that tickle I get from listening to a Voivod album because Voivod somehow managed to mold their dystopian atmospheres with heavy metal to make an amalgam of music unheard before. Now I am not saying that there has never been a band that has a sound similar to Blood Incantation’s because there are—even on the band’s label, Dark Descent—but the fact of the matter is, the band creates music uniquely, despite not having a one-hundred percent, complete and totally unique sound, and to me, that is what make this album so amazing. It’s liking looking at a forest and being able to see a sea of similarity and tell which tree Blood Incantation is from miles away. What Blood Incantation has done on Starspawn is unmatched. Period. I have no doubts that this will be an album I, and many others, look back upon fondly, not out of nostalgia, now I try not to swear in articles likes this, but honestly, this album will be remembered because it’s that damn good.
Check ’em out here: https://darkdescentrecords.bandcamp.com/album/starspawn