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Incantation - Vanquish in Vengeance (Listenable Records)

By: Mike Sloan

[7.5/10] At first blush, it seems a little shocking that it’s been over six years since the world was given a new full-length album from Incantation. After all, the Pennsylvania outfit has been unleashing pure hell onto ears for 20 years plus and for a long period of time, Jon McEntee and co. released a new slab of pure American death metal every two years. But since Primordial Domination came out in 2006, Incantation released only a split, two singles and the 2008 EP Blasphemous Creation. Looking back on recent history, it actually has been quite some time since we were collectively treated to an album chock full of new Incantation material.

Finally we are given a new chunk of Incantation and luckily for those loyal to band, not much has changed from their glory days in the early ‘90s until now. Vanquish in Vengeance is virtually everything a fan of Incantation could hope for/expect; unrelenting savagery and crushing riffs. Regardless of how fast or how slow the troupe takes their vintage brand of aural carnage, Incantation circa 2012 is just as nasty and vile as when they released Onward to Golgotha.

Obviously the “vintage” lineup is nowhere to be found, save for founding member McEntee, but the core sound and delivery are still pretty much the same. A grimy, dirty production that is also clean enough to hear everything is the main course on the platter but the true selling point is the music. The tracks on Vanquish in Vengeance vary from raging, blistering speed to crushing and plodding slow passages and sometimes in between.

The album explodes with “Invoked Infinity," a pulverizing monstrosity of unrelenting hatred that is loaded front to back with sheer barbarity. It’s speedy and overflowing with more hooks than the Kronk Gym. To say it’s a memorable/catchy tune would be a monumental understatement and it easily ranks right at the top alongside the greatest songs Incantation, regardless of lineup, has ever created. Following that gem is “Ascend into the Eternal” and “Progeny of Tyranny,” two killer songs that bombard the listener in back-to-back manner. So, right from the start, Incantation dazzles the listener with a trio of near flawless songs and it seems like the six year wait for a new full-length translated into the band’s finest hour.

However, things get a little muddy from there when Incantation pull back the reins and go the quasi droning route. The album becomes a little uneven during the second half and it actually grows a little stale when they decide to stretch their songs into several-minute long exercises of slow, Winter-like bludgeoning. Obviously many a metalhead enjoy this sub genre of death, but not these ears.

In closing, Vanquish in Vengeance is a wonderful album that nicely fills the gap between full lengths, one that will surely appease the many fans of Incantation. The album began perfectly but fizzled out toward the end, which was a major bummer. Several spins didn’t change that opinion, but still, it’s a strong enough album in which McEntee and his modern cohorts should be proud. Here’s hoping that Incantation doesn’t spend another six years on the backburner while creating a new long player.

 www.incantation.com

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