Death metal has no boundaries, no expectations, no rules. Not anymore. We’re better off for it because the subgenre has grown and pushed itself into areas no one ever expected when it crept from a swamp three decades ago. There still are bands that deliver meat and potatoes, which the sound definitely needs, but the bands that defy what’s expected are the true explorers.
It’s not hyperbolic to say there is no other death metal band quite like Colorado’s Blood Incantation, easily the most inventive and challenging of any artists pushing the sound. They’ve developed a reputation that’s become godly, but they deserve it because their first two full-length albums have redefined the style forever. But this band—vocalist/guitarist Paul Riedl, guitarist Morris Kolontyrsky, bassist Jeff Barrett, drummer Isaac Faulk—isn’t here to meet your expectations. Their new record “Timewave Zero,” named after a Terence McKenna theory (you have Google), contains none of the instruments listed above. It’s a synth-driven ambient space record with some Moog, Hammond organ, a solitary guitar for a moment, and just a vast maw of space for you to explore. This summer, I am going to listen to this record outside with the stars as my companions and let it wash over me. We are reviewing only two tracks as the third, “Chronophagia,” was not provided and is a CD exclusive. But the two we were given are the soundtrack of deep space isolation, where only you and your thoughts are relevant.
“Io” starts simmering as noise builds and the keys seal the heat, feeling like a ghost hovering overhead as you try to get your bearings. Spacey lines spill as a sci-fi ambiance stretches, staying cold and haunting, mixing into the mist and the second movement that develops an eerie sense of isolation and confusion. The synth makes jolts go down your spine but also soothes at the same time, spinning in time and making your balance questionable, sinking into the third movement that gives off a heat hum that works on your psyche. Sheets float through the clouds as the melody lines swim among the stars, feeling downright Floydian as the waves continue to lap and increase the sense of dreaminess, spilling into the fourth and final portion. That section feels like it floats freely, cooling and circling, folding in darkness. The vibes are strange and unsettling, turning into dust and disappearing into the cosmos.
“Ea” is mesmerizing and numbing as it takes form, rolling through clouds and settling in your cells, feeling completely mind altering. The pace remains static and hypnotic, slowing the tempo, mixing into the second part that allows the pressure to build right away, sounds zapping like your brain is under the influence of chemicals, teasing your sanity. Electric impulses deal strange vibes that make your curiosity level build, moving you into the third section where the playing gets moodier, cymbals crash, and a lone acoustic guitar jags. Keys increase the unsettling ambiance as drops land slowly, and then we move toward the final movement where the melody bleeds into the picture and your mind freezes, moving purposely glacially. Frost builds on your lashes as the synth gushes and creates haziness, and then everything settles into the unknown, with your body lightly convulsing.
Blood Incantation are running on a different level than just about every other modern death metal band, and coming up with an all-ambient album when you just know people are dying for riffs takes some balls. But the bulk of their listeners likely have wider imaginations than most, and what they’ll find is a mind fuck of a journey that would feel perfect at night outside on your back, gazing up at the universe. They’ll certainly be back with the heavy shit before you know it, but let’s not discount this imaginative gust into the unknown that is going to haunt me for years to come.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/astralnecrosis
To buy the album, go here: https://centurymedia.store/
For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/centurymedia/