Saturday, June 28, 2014

Incantation: Dirges of Elysium (Listenable Records)

Incantation: Dirges of Elysium (Listenable Records)
In the course of time Incantation has inched from blasphemous blazing death metal with doom elements towards setting the doom sludge as the centerpiece of the music, while remaining mindful of the death metal heritage. Instead of abrupt style changes that shock the faithful listener with each album, Incantation has been careful to walk its listeners through, step by step, one album at a time, patiently shifting the gears, so that in 2014 the doom sludge components are much more pronounced, all the while announcing where the horizon is, for a dirge signifies a somber, slow composition. It’s not just that the last song, “Elysium,” runs longer than 16 minutes of monolithic funeral death doom; it’s a generalized aesthetics at work in the structures of the band’s newest work.
It that sense, Incantation has been most intelligent in the marketing of its music. Priority number one: keep your customers happy. In this genre, you will never have the mass-appeal popularity that turns musicians into intolerably obnoxious capitalists that buy castles and entire island countries. Death metal is a tough workhorse genre, particularly rough on the stubborn musicians that tour year after year to reach the audience. If you are Incantation, you are armed with the knowledge that you have a solid, supportive base within your niche. Why would you go and destroy it all by repeating the mistakes that so many bands make by “jazzing it up” or going industrial techno dubstep, rapping, glam, hardcore or whatnot, depending on the year and context in question. No, stick to what you do best; dance with the one that brought you. Incantation learned this lesson many, many years ago, after watching countless bands burn their bridges. Actually, I believe that the best is yet to come for Incantation as a band: more success at all levels is going to happen for them.
On this occasion, doom characterizes the album, while the speed factor fulfills a complementary function. After the melodic introduction, the first two songs are on the uptempo range, for sure, but after that, the doom manifests itself, and once in the grip of doom, there’s no escape, only brief upsurges of speed that soon return to the base of doom and sludge. Sometimes the speed functions as an announcement that the doom is once again around the corner. No matter, regardless of whether it’s fast or slow, Incantation in 2014 illustrates skill and experience in songwriting and utilization of melody, catapulting the sound into relatively ear-friendly vibes, and a more direct way to connect with both death metal and doom listeners, and certainly the new listeners in 2014.
Therefore, those that have supported Incantation and John McEntee’s vision for the music will find that everything in substance is as it has been heretofore, with songwriting by an Incantation that has become more comfortable in its own capacity for equilibrium in the songwriting, for doing more things, more bravely, knowing that all those things are Incantation. Doomsters/sludgers that have not given Incantation a chance because of the reputation of “pure” blasphemous blasting death metal would discover quite the surprise here. I find that the doom sludge side of Incantation has become more intelligible, due to more elaboration in its approach: melody within the Incantation sound structures have been incorporated rather effectively; and for that, more power to them.
INCANTATION - Carrion Prophecy (2014) Listenable Records

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