Jun 12, 2021

World Yet Known to Man - Blood Incantation

The first encounter with Blood Incantation was through their first EP Interdimensional Extinction, in 2015. This mini-release summarized the work of the band up to that point, re-working on compositions from their earlier demo tapes, (even though the infamous untitled rehearsal that would later become "The Giza Power Plant" is not present here), so it was the most complete effort at this given time. Popularity hadn't exploded yet and still as Blood Incantation was lurking in the underground, the main discussion was if it is a project honoring veteran entities like Demilich or Timeghoul, or it follows a direction of its own. Musical comparisons between these names are hardly insubstantial, but you can tell of the members' influences  even by looking the 2014 demo Astral Spells artwork, side by side with the tape art of Regurgitation of Blood, from 1991. I always found some distant Slugathor references to their music apart from the more obvious aforementioned bands, yet by now they have expanded their palette significantly.  

Having said this, I didn't actually know what to expect before listening to Interdimensional Extinction as I didn't know any of this information yet. The unreadable logo drew my attention, as well as the black / white space related artwork, which showed Blood Incantation's lyrical themes and made it even more interesting. At the same time, this EP played alongside Skelethal's Interstallar Knowledge of the Purple Entity EP, released just a year before, so these two conceptual releases helped each other to my positive stance towards such topics in general. Needless to point out that all the shenanigans regarding lyrics, artworks or aesthetics, can not really save an album if it has mediocre material, which is why Interdimensional Extinction sky rocketed to the top for me on that year as one of the best EPs of 2015. Blood Incantation's technical mastery becomes apparent immediately, as the complex guitars unfold. The riffs are heavy. The drums are perfectly played. The solos hold meaning. Each track is so well made, it leaves the listener scratching their head by trying to equate it with other death metal bands of its time. Interdimensional Extinction is not simply the first Blood Incantation release of bigger magnitude, it isn't just some old tracks re-recorded, it was the band's statement to try and step out of their influences' shadows and grow on their own. The EP features flawless material, the first three out of four tracks contain exceptional death metal that doesn't limit itself to the term, with potency and excellent flow. Slightly more abstract jamming takes place in the final tune "Subterranean Aeon", which has only a handful of lyrics. Such playing would later become a vital part in Blood Incantation's body of work. 

With this momentum, the next step of a band can prove crucial in deciding its fate and especially in this case when Blood Incantation are battling the waves of old school death metal fans grumbling about originality. A split with Spectral Voice, a brother band sharing almost all members, featuring one of their older tracks didn't spare clear signs on their intentions and what would be the following move. It look less than a year to the release of the debut full length album Starspawn, through Dark Descent Records, who had supported them with Interdimensional Extinction as well. Once again with prolific artwork (this time by Don Dixon), with some color addition and completely new compositions, Starspawn was the turning point that could decide whether the community would care about Blood Incantation at all after this release. Before going into a record, you spend some time looking at the tracks, their duration, the titles and everything around the listening itself. I thought a risk had already been taken when I saw a thirteen minute long track as the first in the album, and the shorter ones actually towards the end. From what countless metal bands have been doing so far, this is already pretty counter intuitive. 

And this is one of the legs the not impressed death metal fans stand on, among other things. Even if I am not one of them, such tracklists being called weak is a frequent argument against Blood Incantation, as well as the fact that each album "doesn't feature enough music". This would be true if one assumes that interludes and instrumental moments are only filler parts of a death metal record, but modern bands have finally arrived to burst that bubble with compensating brutality with atmosphere, something that has been not simply missing, but was an unknown concept in the vast majority of albums out there. The comfort in which Blood Incantation dances between more fluid, progressive parts with no vocals, to full-on heaviness, is remarkable and one of its kind at the time period it's being made. As much of a brilliant band Timeghoul were in the early - mid 90's, the same brilliance flows in the veins of Blood Incantation in the 21st century. And yes, Starspawn is breathtaking. All the artistic edges of the band are glorified in every second of this record, the stellar music is overwhelming in what should be one of the most recognized death metal moments of its decade, if it wasn't for the band's second full length that came out three years later.

Clearly Starspawn deserves a lot of replays, and even after that, it does not get boring. In 2016, the scene now started taking Blood Incantation more seriously, as they got mad promotion from all around, the people who didn't totally get the fuss were wondering more and more. It's in 2019 when the real storm hits. The band, after having spent three years of strenuous song writing, with some rehearsals for songs taking up months, releases their second full length album Hidden History of the Human Race. The topics of alien life, space and technology, through well-written lyrics, are crystal clear and a landmark for Blood Incantation by now. Another piece of art by Bruce Pennington is used, this time the cover of the book Space, Time and Nathaniel by Brian Aldiss. While a more obscure Canadian brutal death metal band named Agony, had used the same art for their debut Apocalyptic Dawning (another worthy record for you to listen to by the way), Blood Incantation took proper rights for usage of the art. "The Giza Power Plant" is the only old composition (from ~2013), and the other three tracks, including a mammoth eighteen minute piece "Awakening from the Dream of Existence to the Multidimensional Nature of Our Reality (Mirror of the Soul)", are brand new.

Hidden History of the Human Race features another instrumental track, where the former jamming tendencies have grown out of death metal into a mixture of psychedelic / post / death metal that depicts the band's clear forward thinking character. Demilich's own Antti Boman does feature vocals here, just to confirm that there are no artistic gaps between these bands. The opener "Slave Species of the Gods" is insanely catchy, overly aggressive and hammers top-notch riffing from the band, it's a memorable future classic track to characterize Blood Incantation and an immediate attention catcher, in other words the ideal opener. Of course, the last track, in all its duration, makes up for the wildest experience you can get from them. The record splashed all over the metal media and not only, got extreme levels of coverage, and history has already been made. Such a natural and coherent group, whose live shows sound even better than the captivating studio sound, whose members also have several side-projects with remarkable material, can't hold back the truth about how much talent and potential these individuals have. Hidden History of the Human Race is Blood Incantation's establishing mark and a point of discussion for many years to come.

I don't know if they took their album name from the Cremo / Thompson book with the same title, released in 1999, but combined with the cover art, and then the colossal music with all its directional branches, constitutes to this masterpiece, that not everyone has to understand necessarily. All of their material are on regular repeat, nothing has grown old and there have been insanely good moments since day one. It has now been a bit quiet again in the Blood Incantation camp, I'm wondering if the next work of the band is being prepared as we speak. It is a band that has sky rocketed to the top, caused polarization on the way, but with undeniably high level and competent musicianship, the slightest activity from now on will cause the death metal scene to stir again. 


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