Review Summary: A savage combination of head-crushing guitar riffs, scathing vocals and violent transitions that evoke thoughts of pure terror, Incantation's melding of death and doom metal is at one of its pinnacles here.
Formed in 1989 in New York, Incantation helped form a trio along with Suffocation and Immolation that would initially lead the scene in the area. After two EP's, 1990's Entrantment of Evil
and 1991's Deliverance of Horrific Prophecies
, they released the powerful 1992 album, Onward to Golgotha
, which introduced an incredibly aggressive sound combining passages of slow, plodding doom metal with the speedy, relentless tones of death metal. Wrenching guitar licks, bludgeoning drumming and hellish grunts dominated the tones of the album. Following Onward to Golgotha
, a couple of other crushing albums were released including the excellent 1994 record, Mortal Throne of Nazarene
. In 1998, after numerous lineup changes in the previous years, Incantation unleashed Diabolical Conquest
, which is among their very best in terms of giving the listener an all-around skull-thrashing. Tempo changes are as evident as ever, and the death/doom mixture continues to dominate the album's sound.
From the very start, rabid blast beats and psychotic guitar work blast out of the speakers on the album-opening, wrath of "Impending Diabolical Conquest". Shortly thereafter, Daniel Corchado lets loose with his demonically-low, belching growl that lets out each and every lyric with tortuous intensity. At times, he spits out vile, stomach-churning croaks and gags that remind one of a possessed animal. His vocals shiver to the bone and create images of unearthly beings throughout the tracks, with the exception of the foreboding, instrumental, "Unheavenly Skies". As one can probably tell, the lyrics that course through the album are often anti-religious or satanic with a gory tinge to them as well, with lines such as, "Beliefs of a rotten church, decree by flames, Salvation, somber ecstasy." (From "Impending Diabolical Conquest") and "Upon the mountain apex, reeking of zealous malevolence, Stench of hellish pandemonium, trembling, decaying divinity" (From "Unto Infinite Twilight/Majesty of Infernal Damnation").
As far as the instrumental side of things go, the album is pure madness. Unexpected, yet oddly fluid tempo changes between mid-paced to blindingly-fast death metal and lumbering, trudging doom metal. Guitar duties on the album are held by Corchado and founding-member, John McEntee, and needless to say, they impress. Crushing, ripping, bone-shattering riffs and screeching leads make themselves known throughout the tracks during the death metal segments and sinister, unforgiving fragments litter the doom metal divisions. Check the instrumental, "Unheavenly Skies" for one of the better representations of the doom side of this offering. The fret-board molesting on this album is unrelenting in its manner, and really gives a maniacal sound to the album that few bands can match. Bass-wise, the responsibility also falls to Chorchado and he doesn't disappoint. Several points on the album allow the bass to penetrate through the wall of schizophrenic guitar assaulting. It succeeds in providing an even thicker sound to the album and allows the guitars to emphasize their crazy antics even more. On the drum-kit is Kyle Severn, and his detonation of frightening blast-beats and cranking fills push the songs forward and keep up with the guitars through their every move. However, he also knows not to overplay during the slow passages, adding some ominous cymbal-work to accent the doom sections. As a whole, the album electrifies and punishes on every front, it is a complete performance.
As far as standout tracks go, the album is full of memorable tracks. However, the most blatantly obvious would have to be the winding, nearly seventeen minute closer, "Unto Infinite Twilight/Majesty of Infernal Damnation". This track incorporates nearly everything that makes Incantation's sound great. Blistering riffs and grating drumming and vocals all saturate this track, as well as the crawling, epic segments. The lyrics tell of sacrifice and damnation and Daniel gargles them with such vigor, that he literally conjures images of said actions. The song (and album) closes out with a drawn-out wailing on the guitar and the bass chugging along underneath. Everything about this song is impressive, from the length to the musicianship, and Incantation manage to keep it interesting all the way through, making the track seem a lot shorter than it is. Other grinding highlights (or low-lights, if you prefer) include the trio that begin the album consisting of "Impending Diabolical Conquest", "Desecration (Of the Heavenly Graceful)" and "Disciples of Blasphemous Reprisal", which is among the best material the band has churned out to date, and the shattering "United In Repugnance" and "Ethereal Misery". The whole album doesn't relent in its delivery, however, and never seems to downright falter throughout its length.
Summing it up, Diabolical Conquest
is most certainly among Incantation's best material, and shows just how much ear-battering the band can shove into these eight tracks. The album is remorseless in its destructive intensity and is consistent all the way through. However, fans that dislike this bands sound will most likely find that this is another ho-hum effort. Of course, lovers of this type of music will jump all over this, as it is a fantastic, brutal display of finesse throughout. Diabolical Conquest
gets a 4.5 out of 5.