Incantation – Unholy Deification Review

Unholy Deification is lucky #13 for John McEntee and his cast of cohorts, in terms of full-length albums. From outside observation, it’s pretty clear that, after some thirty-plus years in the game, John’s a true metal lifer, from the earliest dawns of the death through the decades since, and here we are. Through countless line-up changes, he’s steered this particular ship across all the ups and downs since Onward To Golgotha crushed everyone flat in 1992. From there, it’s been three decades of records, all varying degrees of goddamned good to goddamned great, including the masterwork Diabolical Conquest, to this, thirteen in. In the last decade or so, there’s been a serious uptick in the Incantation output, an upward movement of vigor and vitriol happening with Vanquish In Vengeance a decade so back, and riding on that wave, Incantation circa 2023 is as strong a band as they’ve been in a very long time.

This latest Incantation effort has apparently been written and ready for a bit, but like so much else in the world, it was held up by the pandemic, as all the touring possibilities for 2020’s Sect Of Vile Divinities were pushed backwards. Released during the pandemic, Sect was a strong effort, but one that garnered press for its unusually clean production. Incantation is known for a certain level of consistency and a certain cavernous murk, so a shift towards a less muddy sound was met with some… confusion. With their recent hot streak and Sect’s turn towards cleanliness in mind, even unheard, Unholy Deification stands at something of a crossroads: Can our fearless blasphemers continue their winning streak? Will they return to the cavernous murk that characterized their classics?

And now that I have the result in hand, the answers to those questions are: Yes, absolutely, and no, not entirely.

Most important of those two is the first one, of course, and I’m quite happy to report that Unholy Deification is a grand statement of anti-Christian anger, filled to beyond bursting with killer death metal riffery and some absolutely stellar Incantation tracks. To the death metal initiated, Incantation’s very name defines that specific blend of classic toxic death metal and noxious doom, and the primary deviation from the norm here is that Deification skews in favor of the former, deathier more so than doomier, though there’s certainly moments of trudging wretchedness to be found, just less wallowing inside them. Still, primarily, Unholy’s build is upon a more than solid death metal foundation, with riff after riff after tremolo-picked riff invoking that vintage Incantation bite, atonal melodies and the sparing tarry-toned slower bits to break up the pace. Very much an Incantation record, in every sense of the word (all those words and senses are positive and praising ones, mind you), Unholy Deification is a spirited, aggressive, angry death metal affair, an offering that shows why this band is rightly hailed as death metal royalty. (I mean… durrrrr… because they are.)

The simple fact is this: Every track on Unholy Deification is a flat-out winner, and the production rights many of the (if not) wrongs (then sticking points) of Sect Of Vile Divinities. Unholy Deification falls snugly in the space between that uncharacteristic cleanliness and classic Incantation’s ugliness, sharp and crisp but with noticeable filth on the guitars and everything sounding like a professional production even as it sounds thick, tarry, tough. Swaggering tunes like “Homunculus (Spirit Made Flesh) IX” and “Convulse (Words Of Power) III” are Incantation perfection, raw riffage and Chuck Sherwood’s occultist lyrical bent atop some serious death metal power from Kyle Severn.

At this point, let’s all be honest with ourselves here: You’re either an Incantation fan, or you aren’t, or you’ve never heard them. If you’re the former, then absolutely, 100% yes – Unholy Deification gives you all the appropriate awesomeness tinglies, because it’s Incantation doing what Incantation does, and even with a dialed-up aggression factor that sometimes displaces the doomy dirge, it still rules, no question at all.

And if you’re not into Incantation, then, yeah, you’ll be that fuddyduddy dipshit who’s like, “I dunnnooo, man… They don’t really do anything different here,” and you’ll have missed the point and we’ll pour your artisanal kombucha out on your grave and move on.

And, if for whatever reason, you’re new to Incantation, then you’re about to have a whole lot of fun digging in. If you’re starting here, then Unholy Deification is a damned strong effort, and a fine place to make the dive (though the beginning is always better), because this is the sound of a band of veterans doing what they do, and this is exactly why Incantation will always matter.

Long live the lifers, and death metal, and Incantation.

Posted by Andrew Edmunds

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; born in the cemetery, under the sign of the MOOOOOOON...

  1. Arjan Van Diepeningen August 21, 2023 at 3:21 pm

    I’m glad to see that this website delivers timely reviews. I really was curious about this one!


  2. Thanks for the review. Incantation is consistently so good. As for reduced murkiness in the sound, that trend is fine with me.


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