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Incantation – Vanquish In Vengeance

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Vanquish in Vengeance is Incantation’s first album in six years. Strangely, their profile has grown considerably during their silence. (Perhaps I should say “John McEntee’s profile,” as he is the only permanent member of a unit that has seen some 50 members pass through its ranks.)

When 2006’s Primordial Domination came out, Incantation was out of step with the death metal world. The tech arms race was peaking; Necrophagist was one of the genre’s most celebrated bands, as strange as that sounds now. The pendulum has since swung back in the other direction. Incantation’s ’90s output now serves as a model for a cottage industry. “Murky,” “atmospheric,” and “occult” are its watchwords.

The limelight has changed little for Incantation. This band is a hermetically-sealed institution; civilization could collapse and it wouldn’t affect their approach. Ironically, Vanquish In Vengeance concerns itself far less with lo-fi orthodoxy than do most Incantation disciples. The performances on Vanquish are drum-tight; the tones, muscular and clear.

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Incantation – “Vanquish In Vengeance”

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I wasn’t excited for Vanquish In Vengeance, as Incantation’s aughties output was unremarkable. My mistake. It sounds remarkably fresh for a death metal band’s ninth studio album. The crisp production helps it in this regard, just as the big sound on Asphyx’s Deathhammer (reviewed here) helped that album. McEntee also deploys his band’s tactics with an easy confidence befitting of their inventor. The formula hasn’t changed: stiff-limbed blasting exists to set up stinky doom slowdowns. It’s a common ploy now, and it offers no surprises. Incantation is simply better at using it than virtually anyone else. It comes from their guts; it is not a tribute or a pastiche.

2012 has been a banner year for death/doom. Asphyx, Hooded Menace, Indesinence, Inverloch, and Emptiness have all released compelling material. (What am I missing?) But right now, I’m thinking Vanquish In Vengeance might take the annual crown. Closer “Legion of Dis” is the best slow death metal jam I’ve heard this year; it starts with claustrophobic groove and gradually opens up into a gaping abyss. Listen for yourself.

— Doug Moore

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Incantation – “Legion of Dis”

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Listenable (LP)
Listenable (CD)

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