Album Review: Blood Incantation - Hidden History Of The Human Race
Artist: Blood Incantation
Album: Hidden History Of The Human Race
Genre: Progressive/Technical/Old School Death Metal
Review by Mothlord
Blood Incantation, a name that should be very familiar to you if you have been following the several year long resurgence in OSDM. The band has been active since 2011, and have spent their time channeling vile occult energies into a humble but respectable discography. It was only in 2016 that they unleashed their debut album Starspawn to cult acclaim. Blood Incantation had caught the attention of both novice and purist OSDM fans alike. For their churning caustic death riffage and soaring and engulfing death doom notes, coloured by honest organic and raw sounding production which in honesty, was something that I even had to adjust to. Now with their sophomore effort, Blood Incantation strive to develop their sound in a familiar but refreshing manner on Hidden History Of The Human Race.
Similarly to Starspawn, no time is wasted in opening the record with "Slave Species To The Gods". The flood gates are open, and we are immediately greeted by pure and savage death metal riffage likened to early Morbid Angel, that would ensnare the attention of even the elder gods themselves. Quite quickly though, the song shifts rather fast into guitar flourishes that feel reminiscent of bands like Death and Cynic. These cascading riffs are compounded with the powerful and groove driven drumming of Isaac Faulk and guitarist/vocalist, Paul Riedl's reverb soaked bellows.
This constant flux in songwriting seems to be a trademark of Blood Incantation as a whole, but also on this album. Hidden History Of The Human Race is only 4 songs long, however ever moment shifts and churns like a cosmic horror psychedelic experience that barely allows the listener to cling to a fixed position of certainty, let alone become too accustomed or comfortable in the experience.
There is certainly no lack of great, innovative and diverse musical ideas on display here, even by a band who pays obvious homage to many classics of the genre. This type of song writing works wonders for repeat listens as you must rewind or restart a song to relive any moments that really resonated with you. Every moment holds an unexpected and engaging experience. However this may be jarring for some, but for myself it does enrich the time spent with this band and record. Though it does demand more investment than a standard 9-10 track album. Despite this, it is something that will age well and upon those repeat listens, more layers and depth will be perceived as you are better able to cling to passing moments.
"The Giza Power Plant" flourishes wildly with abstract grooves and disconcerting atmospheres. A song that is empowered by being the second track. It is rooted a little more in a noticeable theme of rhythm and direction. More time is afforded to the listener to really sink into the flow of the music and bang their head along. Around the mid-point we cross into a threshold of much more fully realized psychedelic death doom passage, reminiscent of Nile and of the band Spectral Voice, who share a good half of their members with Blood Incantation. This section advances forward, trudging through epic and foul coloured alien sky-scapes and betwixt cyclopean and inhuman towers for the full remainder of the 7-minute long song, until the very last minute when there is a sudden change into the sporadic and chaotic, snapping attention from lofty dream-scape back into the tangible flesh. That brief push into the manic is an appreciated moment of sobriety before we are cascaded into the starry void with "Inner Paths (To Outer Space)", the currently released single for the album. A welcome and exploratory dirge beyond our realm. And it must be noted than the production for this record is definitely playing to all the strengths of the song writing. As though, the rawer, danker production of Starspawn was entirely appealing. The higher level of melody and atmosphere this time around are benefiting from a clearer, but no less organic mix. "Inner Paths" is ever shifting and lucid haze of distant melting atmospheres and dimensions warping and folding around each other in an ebb and flow of beautiful and unsettling qualities. I would encourage you to sit back sober, or inebriated with materials of your choosing and immerse yourself in their visualizer music video that accompanies this track that has references to ancient Sumerian connections and the Annunaki and seems to hint at some kind of astral projection. I have not had the pleasure to read the lyrics to this record, but it is quite obvious the themes that Blood Incantation explore.
Given the more atmospheric quality of this track, this was a time when I thought Jeff Barret's bass playing was finally given real time to shine and cut through as churning and deep motifs unfolded on his behalf. Something I did wish we got to hear more of on this record. This is not to say his playing was not fantastic, the song writing and mix just didn't allow as much room as possible. An on the topic of atmosphere, these atmospheric segments are incredibly appreciated by myself, as they capture the nostalgic science fiction moody perfectly.
"Inner Paths" begins its conclusion in a swirl of caustic rumbling blasts and volatile guitars. As we near the finality we are blessed by the only vocals on the track, a lengthy guest guttural by Demilich vocalist Antti Boman. The closing piece, "Awakening From The Dream" has some of my favourite moments on the record which is remarkable given it's immense length of 18-minutes. While still in a constant state of flux, every piece relates to one another closely and deviates in a measured and careful pace. The track also has some of the more memorable lead guitar segments on record, but this is not to say the rest of the record is not as impressive. Both guitarists Morris Kolontyrsky and Paul Riedl should be proud of their efforts in writing so many guitar focused segments that while their palette is very similar across the board, each time feels like a brief trip of DMT that gives you a glimpse of a greater whole hidden behind the veil of human perceptions.
An observation on the critics part is that this song could have easily been broken down into separate songs, or into separate parts to assist with fully appreciating the songwriting. But I am quite sure that this was an intentional move to have the listener experience the intended journey as a whole. And those who do are fully rewarded with a rich experience that at journeys end will have you lean back in contemplation.
I will admit there was certainly a strain at my attention during focused listens. This was always disappointing as by this stage the song writing had not diminished in quality at the slightest. I personally felt that I did not have the focus left to capture and process new motifs as others were always presenting themselves (much like being stuck in a cascading psychoactive experience when capturing some truth evades you). It was when I let myself fall into the song without care that I was able to fully savor this final requiem to solar soundscapes and galactic grandiosity. Which in some ways is a shame as every riff deserves full attention, and 18-minutes is a lot to endure to give full appreciation to every moment. However this is a good thing for a band, to be able to be fully appreciated both in focused listens, and while the listener is unconsciously partaking. By albums end and after many repeat listens, I am still wholly impressed by this group of musicians ability to consistently create engaging, tasteful, inventive and even emotive music. Music that evokes a sense of something greater beyond the limitations of humanity and inspires imaginative imagery of kaleidoscopic alien dimensions. I must hand it to a band that causes me at every turn to shake my head and think "how do they keep doing this?" They already have me ready and thirsty for more. "Hidden History Of The Human Race" is out on Dark Descent Records and Century Media Records, November 22nd 2019. 8 out of 10