Incantation – Sect of Vile Divinities (2020)

On Sect of Vile Divinities, Incantation continue the trend of borrowing influences from contemporaries they started out with many years ago. Autopsy and Mortician have already been referenced on Primordial Domination and Profane Nexus, namely in the use of a brighter, more sickening tone of doom than the industrial-grade sludge that is the band’s wont, and the murderous groove of an album like Zombie Apocalypse. Added to these, on the new album, are the kind of exotic flourishes one might associate with Nile, the barre chord hyperactivity of ‘A Skull Full of Maggots‘, and the verse-chorus patterns of an Asphyx-lite project like Hail of Bullets.

The traditional scaling up and down the dissonant register – think the opening to ‘Golgotha‘ – still prevails on the faster songs, but elsewhere Sect of Vile Divinities carries a more extroverted melodic flavoring than what one normally expects from Incantation, so much so that vast stretches of this album resemble a different band altogether. Initial premises aren’t as extensively developed as one would hope, with songs frequently recycling motifs either harmonically or through change in tempo. Momentum is constantly arrested, too: much more preferable was the earlier tactic of including doom workouts as independent songs instead of having these sections creep into the overall body of the album.

The trade-off here then is between memorability and songwriting intricacy. The relationship between these two aspects is inversely proportional at the best of times but even more so considering Incantation‘s musically attritional aesthetic. The band have obviously favored the first attribute on this album, making it a less challenging and a less dark experience than usual. But Incantation are a band far too steeped in the tradition to write a poor death metal album, and Sect of Vile Divinities can still conceivably serve as an introduction to the band with the disclaimer that their best work lies in the past and in a form considerably different from the present.

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2 Responses to Incantation – Sect of Vile Divinities (2020)

  1. P.B. says:

    ” Autopsy and Mortician have already been referenced on Primordial Domination and Profane Nexus, namely in the use of a brighter, more sickening tone of doom than the industrial-grade sludge that is the band’s wont, and the murderous groove of an album like Zombie Apocalypse.”

    Not to go too off the topic of the bigger picture here, but I always had a slightly different interpretation of those three albums (and Vanquish in Vengeance as well), namely, that it wasn’t so much accepting influences from Autopsy as it was a natural result of having the lead guitarist from Goreaphobia in the band. If you listen to Alex’s newer band, Ruinious, and their album “Graves of Ceaseless Death”, it seems to be coming from a lot of the same places that the “influences” in Incantation of that period were. If you summed up McEntee’s style and the style that Alex brings in Ruinous, it’s surprisingly close to what those three albums were.

    Some folks I know who have toured with Incantation have labelled McEntee as “an asshole” (the comment that has always stood out to me the most was “he’s an asshole, but everyone who is as talented as him is”), but yet, it’s impossible to deny that he’s always done an incredible job as an administrator, bringing the right guys in and moving with whatever direction they naturally bring. “Onward to Golgotha” was the result of him working with Paul Ledney and the Immolation guys a lot, and then recording that with a different band; the next few releases were the product of Craig Pillard’s drone/doom/noise obsession that we’ve come to know from his later projects; then, the epic flourishes of Daniel Corchado were integrated to create Diabolical Conquest. In my view, “Vanquish in Vengeance”, “Primordial Domination”, and “Profane Nexus” were just a similar natural result of him working with a musician whose natural tendencies pulled in that direction, and integrating it into the whole of Incantation, and a bit of a direction change upon that member leaving is to be expected, IMO.

    (One of the biggest disappointments of the last few years for me has been that Alex couldn’t perform a similar turnaround job on Immolation as he did on Incantation, but that’s another story…)

    • Immolation are a spent force, I’m afraid. Just a patchwork of disparate ideas now. Something you can’t say about modern Incantation, not even this album.

      But that’s a good way of looking at McEntee, as an assimilator. I’ve struggled over the years with the knowledge of someone being an asshole (in personal life i.e.) yet their music being good and true to conviction. At my pettiest, I’m prepared to simply ignore and be non-committal about it, but yeah, credit where credit’s due at the end of the day. Spending decades making a band stay together is an accomplishment in itself; making good music to boot is immense.

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