Incantation – “Sect Of Vile Divinities” (Relapse Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Formed in the late 80s and along with fellow bands Suffocation, Mortician and Immolation making up the cream of the New York death metal underground, Incantation have been consistently active in releasing records and touring for over three decades. Despite their many line-up changes during this time, founder guitarist / vocalist John McEntee has been the one constant in maintaining their elite standards to become one of the most influential and respected artists in the genre. “Sect Of Vile Divinities”, the band’s 11th release, shows no flagging whatsoever in either perfectionist quality nor in furore! Through 12 tracks of death metal purity, McEntee proves that whether it’s old school (or modern), his mastery of the style is unparalleled through immediately enthralling riffs that time and again, go well beyond aural bliss to inducing headbanging hysteria. Added to this are the catchy hooks and wailing tremolo melodies all backed by a grim, chundering rhythm and man, you’ve got all the winning traits of quality distilled down to its finest elements. It’s no clearer than on the opener ‘Ritual Impurity (Seven of the Sky is One)’ with its utterly possessed fast sliding riffs, pummelling double bass drums and McEntee’s slick mix of sick gutturals and hollow roars all going to work on your senses both at speed and in perfect contrast, a slower, grinding pace – wonderful! Moving immediately into the old school diddly dee mayhem of ‘Propitiation’, with its thick buzzsaw guitars, I love the way the menacing pace builds with the tribal drumming speed while topped off by sinister, wailing melodies along the way as McEntee’s primal roars add the final touch to this exquisite mix of the evil and exotic. Like the birthing of some demon, ‘Black Fathom’s Fire’ bellows through an intense mix of frantic drumming, fast whirring riffs and McEntee’s bestial drawls, although the tempo changes, arrangements and technical guitar work really make for powerfully dark and equally mysterious atmosphere that impresses, as indeed does this album throughout. It is in essence, another masterpiece from the genius of McEntee himself.