The most impressive death metal record of 2019.
It was obvious even from the first few seconds of Blood Incantation’s 2013 demos that something special was happening over in Colorado. Indeed, true death metal die-hards can smell the real thing from miles away, and now nearly seven years later, amid a creative boom for all things underground, the bands debut LP Starspawn has deservedly put Blood Incantation at the forefront of a thriving genre, despite plenty of recent competition daring them to surpass their considerable achievements. With the onus on the Denver natives to prove they are up to the task, Hidden History Of The Human Race is both, remarkably, the best conceived and most fully realised of their efforts to date and a quantum leap for the genre as a whole.
On first listen it is instantly clear that Blood Incantation have hit their creative stride. The collaborative glee of their time at World Famous Studios is captured here with that warmly rich analog sound recalling the standard sonic template of death metal’s formative years. Opening track ‘Slave Species Of The Gods’ is at first an adrenaline pumping dose of classic Floridan brutality, touches of ‘Altars..’ era Morbid Angel and latter day Death, offering a first glimpse of the numerous old-school influences festering away. It’s worth noting that as much as everything here exhibits a widescreen touch, this is still a scything, belligerent death metal record at its core, with acid-mangled grooves, uncoiling Azagthothian guitar leads and inhuman gutturals lunging at every turn. However, there is little hiding the bands freewheeling compositional spirit, most notably on the astonishing ‘The Giza Power Plant’ and snappily titled ‘Awakening From the Dream of Existence to the Multidimensional Nature of Our Reality (Mirror of the Soul)’. These cuts are unabashedly progressive, with the former’s righteously headbang-able riffs easing into a Middle Eastern inspired mid-section which feels almost free-form, a vortex of obtuse, haphazard rhythms vaulting and tumbling before giving way to a passage of snails-pace doom. Presiding over the unravelling nightmare with his preacher-cum-conductor approach, is vocalist Paul Riedl conveying all the necessary menace and horror to not displace Blood Incantation from their death metal pedigree. The eighteen minute ‘Awakening…’ on the other hand is a flat out labyrinth of riffs, an extended show of extreme metal superiority which basks in its own diversity whilst doffing its cap at generous fistfuls of metal’s classiest stylistic advances. At times fiendishly melodic (just check out the guitar solo at 14.50), spine-crushingly muscular and deliciously progged out, and with every note sounding as deliberate and essential as the last, this track is anything but self-indulgent.
Make no mistake, Hidden History Of The Human Race is the death metal event of 2019, and in a year with extreme music so absurdly fruitful, Blood Incantation are still positively peerless, still transporting us to interesting and terrifying places, and still just a tad bonkers. This is the record that they have always threatened to make, and its fucking magnificent.
Hidden History of the Human Race is released 22nd November via Dark Descent Records and can be purchased here.
Read our interview with Blood Incantation here.
Words: Tony Bliss