Well, here we are. The belly of the riff-lovin' extraterrestrial beast. You'll inevitably be subjected to a veritable cosmic load of Blood Incantation hype in the weeks to come prior to Hidden History of the Human Race's November 22nd release, so I'll keep this intro brief.
Blood Incantation's meteoric rise to the upper echelon of underground death metal carried with it a burden of expectation. 2016's Starspawn hit the scene with an expansive roar, solidifying Blood Incantation's reputation as an outfit willing to inject a little intensity and exploration into their forward-thinking approach to atmospheric death metal. How do you follow up a flawed-but-remarkably-promising debut? In an ideal world, by removing said flaws from the picture, while simultaneously pushing onward and upward so as to avoid stagnation. No small order.
To assess Blood Incantation's latest offering, two Village-dwellers took up the pen, making for a rare double review 'round these parts (and quite possibly a triple, if I can get my doddering ass into gear). Without further ado, I'll let them do the talking.
Written by: Izzy
Happy Halloween* Sleepy Villagers, wine cellar pillagers, and gesamtkunstwerkers. As I’m sure you already know (unless this is the first review of this type you see) here at SVR we’ve got our ink bottles and scribing pens out to review the new Blood Incantation album, The Hidden History of The Human Race, which will be dropping on Nov 22nd, so mark your calendars.
Normally, I don’t prefer reviewing each individual song on an album in this style, but considering Hidden History has only four songs and one of them is a whopping 18 minutes, I feel it’s more appropriate to make this a track by track breakdown, also because I feel like everyone else is gonna go about it in a more non-linear fashion so I wanna take the analytical route, so I say we buckle up and prepare for liftoff.
Track 1, "Slave Species of The Gods:"
This is a very, very good opening track, no BS and gets straight to the point. The drumming on this track is absolutely phenomenal and really stood out to me, there’s a lot of cymbal ghost notes, those little quick and sharp hi-hat hits, that just make it so. God. Damn. Groovy.
That aside, it also has lots of lovely guitar layering and harmonizing, which in a strange yet wonderful way feel like they almost synch with the vocals melodically, despite the vocals being so low and growly.
Short solos are abundant on this as well and boy do I love them, they break up the track from getting too repetitive on multiple listens
I normally don’t talk about production but MAN the mix in general here is incredible, the drumming is subtle enough it doesn’t overpower anything, but you can still hear all of this little eccentricities, the chuggy rhythm guitar is the lowest in the mix usually but still very clear if you focus away from the lead guitar, and the layers on the lead which melt into each other in a way that gives that trademark Blood Incantation spaciness while not sounding muddy.
Track 2, "The Giza Power Plant:"
Now listen, I’m not an ODSM gal, I love me some death metal but it’s rare that a band emulating that older style really catches my attention. However, after listening to Starspawn I promptly full cleared the rest of their discography just because of how much I loved this bands take on a pretty saturated and often cut-and-dried style. That context being said, this is my new favourite Blood Incantation song.
That beginning is just incredible, I love the riff they use, those super crisp pinch harmonics and short n sweet tremolo picking are just fantastic, the bass right at the start is also very audible due to a lot of space left by the drumming, and gets just a moment to stand out with no guitar.
Speaking of the drumming, the drum fills are just gr00vy as hell all over this track and remind me even more that Isaac Faulk is absolutely incredible and I should be ashamed for never realizing that until now.
There’s also something about the blast beats here that are like, weirdly tender? Like they don’t feel aggressive, but rather just another layer of the incredible ambiance this track builds up.
The majority of the song is made up of these slowed down, psychedelic passages with guitar leads that sound very “Egyptian.” I wanna say they’re in the phrygian dominant scale, but only because I know that scale is best known for having that “Egyptian” quality to it.
The rhythm guitar doesn’t do a lot this track, it’s mostly slow, drawn out chords that build a base for the leads to shine.
So yeah, fuckin’ sweet track.
We interrupt this review for a brief disclaimer, transmitted from some backwater planet called “Earth.”:
Since this review is shaping up to be super long, I wanna add in here that despite my extreme praise for the first two tracks, the next two are where most of my issues with the album lie. However, I talk about these issues only because I don’t want to sound like I think this album’s perfect. It’s still a strong 9/10 if I had to give a number to it, so don’t get your space undies in a bundle when I say there’s a couple things they could’ve done better.
Oh also I don’t know music theory that well so apologies if I messed up on the hi-hat ghost notes or phrygian dominant scale parts there.
Track 3, "Inner Paths (to Outer Space):"
I don’t have as much to say about this song for two reasons. 1. Most of you have probably heard it because it was released as a single already, and 2. Honestly it’s a little boring, I’m not giving this album praise across the board. It’s very slow, which I don’t mind, but nothing really happens until you’re a minute thirty into it, which is more than a quarter of the song, and even then things don’t really pick up til two and a half minutes in.
When things do kick in though, they’re really good, I don’t know the words to describe it except for “cosmically epic.” Then we get some traditional death metal chug riffing, which feels a tad out of place, and then a weird little backwards outro. I adore the ideas going on in this track, but I feel they didn’t get enough time to develop, I really wish this song was maybe a 10 minute or longer track, so the intro wouldn’t seem so long, they get to expand more on the melodic, almost shoegaze-y middle section, and add more of those good ‘ol old school riffs so they showed up more than just such a small section at the end.
Track 4, "Awakening From The Dream of Existence To The Multidimensional Nature of Reality (Mirror of The Soul):"
That title being the most “Blood Incantation” thing I’ve ever seen aside, this was the track I was most excited to hear, considering it’s also 18 minutes long which is always a treat for my long-song-loving ass.
Now, this song is great, but I feel like it’s probably the weakest on the album sadly. The intro (AKA only the first 5 minutes) is super solid, great riffs, great drumming, but doesn’t feel as memorable as what they were doing on the first two tracks. After that we get hurled out the airlock for a short, space-y drone section, we get yanked right back with some chugga chugga death metal riffs and those sparkly Gojira-style pick scrapes. They switch up the riffs a couple times before getting real slow and emotional, going at an almost doom metal pace, with what sounds like to me, a kind of sad, or at least melancholic guitar solo. This solo is absolutely beautiful and probably one of the highlights of the album for me, the way it hits you after about 14 minutes is just, on another level, another galaxy even, you really get lost in it.
It ends with this very pretty acoustic bit with assloads of reverb, and a touch of clean leads, that just sorta fades out.
If you want a conclusion or TL:DR, go listen to this album as soon as it’s out if you like any kind of death metal, and I’d even say this might be a pretty good way to introduce a newer metalhead friend of yours to some more listener-friendly OSDM. Hidden History of The Human Race is not just brutal, but emotional, atmospheric, and (dare I even describe a death metal record as this) pretty at times, underneath all the layers of space debris and unidentified extraterrestrial sludge. You should be counting the days until you can listen to it yourself, and I very much expect to see this on many “best of 2019” lists, and quite possibly some of my own.
---End of Transmission---
Written by: Reese
Floating beyond the far reaches of known space exist incomprehensible beings of an unfathomable age and voracious hunger. Lacking any sort of corporeal form and existing as writhing masses of chaos and entropy, can these beings be said to even exist at all? Or can are they simply beyond understanding by our primitive minds? The Secret Reptilian Scientific Society (SRSS) has been baffled by these questions for years, but we now know one thing for certain about these cosmic monstrosities: they put out a pretty cool album this year.
I’ll admit that I’m a picky eater when it comes to this flavour of death metal. I like my caveman riffs, but you won’t see me refreshing six tabs of Brazilian distros on my laptop waiting for the newest bootleg Bolt Thrower longsleeve to drop. That said, I always have time to wrap tinfoil around my record player and listen to Blood Incantation. Their ascent to the upper echelons of old school death metal was hardly a fluke. Their musicianship, songwriting and presentation are all out of this world, and the extra-terrestrial twist is pretty far-out, too. But three demos, a cult EP, a split with their sister band, Spectral Voice, a widely-celebrated full-length, and a live LP under their belts, it was time for Blood Incantation to shake things up lest they grow stagnant, falling into the same trap as many others in their same genre.
Fortunately Blood Incantation proved to be more than up to the challenge. Hidden History of the Human Race takes everything that makes Blood Incantation unique, and shuffles it up ever so slightly, slipping in a few unexpected twists and generally refining the band’s sound. When I say “refining the band’s sound” I don’t mean that they’ve suddenly gone all prog metal on us. The prerogative here is still big dummy riffs. But now there’s a higher ratio of riffs per minute and those riffs are both better and more intelligently stupid than before.
In fact, "Slave Species to the Gods" opens with some of the smartest dumbass riffs I’ve heard this year. They come out of the gate fast and furious and then briefly settle into an aggressive groove that almost brings to mind Panthers before they launch back into brutal guitar squeals. It’s one hell of a cool sequence of music, and without any sort of prelude or buildup it’s a sick way to kick off a record. Other highlights include the completely unexpected Egyptian melody that inhabits the midsection of "Giza Powerplant," and the bizarre buildup of "Inner Paths (to Outer Space)." This song is a lot closer to post-metal than many OSDM fans may care to admit, but as someone whose diet consists mostly of atmospheric black metal I can definitely get down with it.
All said, this album is pretty much everything I hoped it would be. It’s the musical equivalent of a Joe Rogan podcast. Its a leaked transmission from Prison Planet. It’s a massive rock crushing your nuts in slow motion. It’s an uncooked steak hitting a wall at 100 MPH. I don’t even know what that means but it just sounds right. Blood Incantation are back, baby. And they’ve probed me till I love em.
*Or Halloweekend, alas - Ed.
Blood Incantation - Hidden History of the Human Race will be released Nov. 22nd, 2019 from
Dark Descent Records