Originally written by Rae Amitay
Incantation is a band whose name has been recognized for twenty years, but the strength of that name has been challenged by a smattering of lukewarm output and an ever-changing lineup that seems to include enough bass players to start an independent nation. This, in addition to the fact that it’s been six years since Incantation has released new material, made me question what I was getting into when I signed on to review Vanquish in Vengeance. It seemed likely that the album would be fine, but ultimately forgettable.
Well, not only is this album one of the biggest surprises of the year, but it might be one of the best albums to come out, as well. Less traditional death metal and more of a death/doom hybrid, Vanquish in Vengeance trades in their trademark muddy production for a much more polished approach. That’s not to say their old school sound has been compromised, but in a time where we have so much recording technology at our disposal, it’s nice to hear a band that doesn’t forsake progress for the sake of sounding ‘kvlt’.
Opening with “Invoked Infinity”, the riffs are crushing without collapsing onto the listeners’ ears in a frenzy of indistinguishable sound. It grinds and burns in the best possible way, and while Incantation may be ‘veterans’ on the scene, they’re still kicking with steel-toed boots. While the album may have a doomier direction, “Progeny of Tyranny” strays from the path just long enough to kick your ass. It’s a nasty tune that thrashes and bites from the first second until the last.
“Transcend into Dissolution” starts off with a steady, simple, drum groove and dives into a sea of sludgy riffs and slow-burning, suffocating heaviness. John McEntee’s growls aren’t just low, they’re downright subterranean, caked in grit and finely focused aggression. The title track is short but sweet, if you can call a menacing and blasting whirlwind of riffs ‘sweet’. There’s also a blistering solo that screams above the din, and makes this track a standout despite its brevity.
“Profound Loathing” begins with sinister, creeping, bass before launching into old-school doom. It’s a dirty, mean, and punishing dirge that doesn’t go stale after eight minutes. The song also boasts some blood-curdling screams from McEntee that give way to hissing and screeching feedback before trudging back into the final riff. The album’s balance between manic and mellow, gloomy and throat-grabbing, are what make it such a fantastic and somehow cohesive collection of tunes. “Legion of Dis”, which treads into funeral doom territory while remaining distinctively death metal, is the closing track on this murderous album, and highlights Incantation’s talent at creating textured and tortured atmosphere.
In short, Vanquish in Vengeance is a hell of a record — killer production, incredible performances, and career-defining riffs. If you like your death metal with a heavy dosage of doom, this is an absolute must-have, and one of the best albums of 2012.