I’ve seen Incantation play live before – once at an open air in the Czech Republic, once in a big Vienna club while they were on tour with Bolt Thrower. The sheer, pure force that radiated from the stage threw me every time, so it came as no surprise that when people familiar with their music and live performances heard Incantation is going to play in one of the smallest, most underground clubs in Zagreb, vacation plans were postponed.
Incantation’s music could best be described as “true” death metal, the kind that never got out of that dark, saturated gutter where death metal first came to be. They are one of the few remaining death metal bands that draw inspiration from the original spring, while creating their own unique, recognizable and memorable sound. People who think anything Death created after Leprosy is “not it” anymore, and who think Sodom and Celtic Frostare what metal is and should be, love Incantation. It’s music for fans who appreciate metal only in its purest forms.
The club was packed. Incantation is probably the only band who could fill up a room-sized, continental club, mid-summer in a Mediterranean country. For their breed of death metal, with hell-invoking lyrics and equivalent vocals and riffs, a late, hot and moist July evening when they played was something you should pray for as an experience.
Hell is a small, dark, tropical room where Incantation is playing a show. You could grow fucking mushrooms in that club. The slow, menacing riffs were surrounding the room, appropriately suffocating what’s left of the air. People didn’t fucking mind, because the band played as the masters they are. They showed us there is so much more to Incantation than just growling and frightening kids, while performing songs from early albums such as 1992’s Onward to Golgotha and 1994’s Mortal Throne of Nazarene, and from their latest, Dirges of Elysium. It’s in browsing through their discography that you got the sense of what the band is: it’s both grindcore speed and doomy pasages, both the structure of non-processed death metal and a jazz approach, and both blasting beats and melody – all intelligently executed. The room, the crowd, the riffs and growling vocals all smashed in one amorphed, gorgeous substance. Superb.
The sound was crystal clear, you could hear everything perfectly, and while you’re hearing it, you’re thinking, damn it, this is what death metal should sound like. I’ve seen many a show in my days, but there really are a few bands that still produce this kind of death after so many years of playing. They’re still keeping it dark, deep, tar, crawling and invocating that which should not be. An ultimate commitment.
There were no theatritcs, no security guarding the stage, no candles lit, no hailing Satan in-between songs… Because Incantation’s music, and the way they deliver it, is all that is needed for (yeah, I’m gonna say it), a brutal atmosphere. This wasn’t a concert, it was a ritual. And you should attend.
**I should also mention that after the show the entire band hung out with the fans, even enduring some utterly pesky fans that wanted to tell them their life stories and how Incantation was the soundtrack to it. Total respect guys, in every regard.
Stay metal, kids. Vitamin D is key.