Blood Incantation – Interdimensional Extinction (2015)

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Article by Corey M

Blood Incantation released their debut EP Interdimensional Extinction last year  to little fanfare. Having heard one of the US death metal band’s songs on a Dark Descent compilation, I was highly anticipating this release and was not disappointed. However, other respectable authors have dismissed it without giving it the attention it deserves. Because I’ve only grown to appreciate this EP more over the last several months, I intend to elaborate on Blood Incantation’s strengths, because I believe they deserve more coverage.

Guitars are the focus of and main engine of Blood Incantation’s music. Typically one guitar plays chords in rhythmic bursts to support the other guitars which harmonize faster-moving and more complex melodies. An excellent balance between the low-register rhythm chords and the weird-and warbly-leads is always maintained. During high-tension segments, the guitars mainly play in unison for maximum impact, and during some of the more paranormal passages, the drums and rhythm intensity are dialed back just enough to open up space for the imaginative and unpretentious leads. The best of the guitar solos remind me of those on In the Nightside Eclipse, sharing that ability be technically modest yet very evocative. Blood Incantation’s flailing-tentacle leads mysteriously manage to reflect or echo the dynamics of the chord pattern underneath, achieving symbiosis with the rhythm guitars and drums, even while ratcheting up the tension to the point of anticipating a total musical disintegration. Other times, leads are used to gracefully close out a song, resolving the musical stress by harmonically tying together the wildly whipping threads of various melody.

Vocals are perfectly competent and never interfere with the shape of the riffs, partially due to having a more forward-sounding presence in the mix, compared to the guitars which cast a broader curtain of sound and envelop the rest of the instruments. Drums are in thrall to the guitars, and when the guitar rhythm turns odd or just a little unorthodox, they provide an unobtrusive, robust foundation on which the highly melodic riffs build. Special mention must go to the session player with the fretless bass, who plays in the technically adventurous death metal band Stargazer. Giving each a riff an uncanny, slithery feel, the fretless adds another layer of harmonic depth and texture in a way that is underutilized or outright ignored by many death metal bands.

On the extra-musical side, Interdimensional Extinction‘s cover art is not only very cool, but an effective visual representation of the themes present in the music, featuring a distant planetary body surrounded by an orbital ring of human skeletal bits. Human skulls are always related to human death and sometimes death in general, as a concept that extends further than the merely personal, into the planetary, the celestial, and yes, even the “interdimensional”! This far-out unearthly realm is what Blood Incantation attempts to explore, as their perspective encompasses not only human death, but death as a common fate for all for all systems of organized energy, from a single bacterium to the largest galactic cluster. Does the band intentionally attempt to establish a sympathetic link between humans and non-human things by relating us all under the empirical inevitability of death? Maybe; maybe not, but these are the sorts of imaginal realms that great death metal can take a listener’s mind.

All four songs on this EP are proficiently crafted and offer the very thing that most lovers of death metal are either actively searching for at least glad to hear; death metal in its unadulterated language, but through a distinctive dialect. Perhaps the band’s native Colorado landscape has informed their intuitive songwriting, as each song moves through jagged peaks and rolling valleys, organically and without pretense. Due to the clarity of the arrangements and mixing, the songs are actually relatively easy to follow, and riffs do not hide behind distracting, murky guitar tones or gratuitous reverb. There may appear to be similarities with Demilich or Immolation, but they are only skin-deep, and Blood Incantation use intriguingly idiosyncratic methods of riff development and song structuring. All things considered, including that I have been listening to this solidly for six months now, I can only think of good reasons to recommend this EP.

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17 thoughts on “Blood Incantation – Interdimensional Extinction (2015)”

  1. CRUSHED SKULLS EVERYWHERE says:

    Listen and buy here:
    https://darkdescentrecords.bandcamp.com/album/interdimensional-extinction

    Agreed on the cover art. Wish I could get a large print to put on my wall.

    1. gay guy says:

      The cover is actually a piece by fantasy artist Bruce Pennington

      http://imgur.com/L6KtikH

  2. SomberSun says:

    A good read.

    I’d heard of this band and written them off as an Incantation clone(i’m sure you can guess why). Hopefully, this review will clear up a few things and people will give them the time the deserve.

    P.S. I’ve seen mention of something called “cavern-core”. Is this another one of the many labels applied to the many Incantation clones?

    1. C.M. says:

      I really don’t see how anyone paying attention to the music would mistake them as an Incantation clone. Even the vocal timbre and guitar tones (the parts that most people notice right away) are different than what you’d hear on an Incantation album.

      As for “cavern-core”, I think it applies to bands like Impetuous Ritual (though I own their first CD and listen to it fairly regularly), Vassafor, Vasaeleth, Vorum, Ritual Necromancy, and their ilk. The tag has negative connotations because many of these bands hide their lack of interesting riffs by layering wildly distorted guitar tracks with too much reverb (like bad shoegaze bands). Some bands stand out, like Adverserial, Portal, and Antediluvian, but they are few and far between. Nevertheless, don’t pass over a band just because someone said they play “cavern-core”.

      1. SomberSun says:

        I meant their name. I assumed they were some sort of mediocre tribute act or clone, so i never bothered listening to them.

        Thank you for the clarification on “cavern-core”. It makes sense now.

        1. C.M. says:

          Oh yes, the name. I actually had heard of these guys through an interview in which the interviewer asked why they used “Incantation” in the name since it was already taken by a well-known band, and the guy from BI said that he didn’t care that they shared the word because his band was unlikely to get confused with Incantation. Kind of a risky move I guess but Blood Incantation is a cool name and they don’t sound similar to Incantation so whatever.

  3. Anthony says:

    Nice, I’m glad you liked it! I saw these guys when they played with Zemial and Spectral Voice last year. They’re probably my favorite local band, and they’re one of the best death metal bands active today.

    Old school without being Old School™, if that makes any sense. I’m looking forward to a full-length.

  4. Can you survive the blitzkrieg says:

    This was a fantastic EP, hope you don’t get fired for enjoying it!

  5. samoth says:

    There are no guitar solos on In the Nightside Eclipse.

    1. C.M. says:

      Thank you for the correction. I have a re-release of ItNE and it features two bonus tracks, one with a solo, and I had forgotten that it wasn’t part of the original release.

      1. Cynical says:

        If you don’t recognize that the bonus songs on ITNE are covers of Bathory and Mercyful Fate, then there’s something horribly wrong.

        1. C.M. says:

          Truth be told, I didn’t recognize the MF song. I barely listen to any black metal and even less heavy metal. Mostly just a couple of bands in either category. For some reason I was thinking the solo I had in mind was actually from one of Emperor’s originals. Obviously it has been a while since I listened to ItNE, so I should probably break it out again soon.

    2. Shatmuh Breeches says:

      I was going to mention the same thing. Then again the only writers who I trust with metal are Brett Stevens, Trystero, and David Rosales, but they are a unique breed of human who consider things beyond most in their writings.

      I heard this EP and while it’s better than most things out there now it could still be thrown into the same pile that Teitanblood or whatever belong to: forgotten in a couple weeks. I despise just about every Dark Descent release for their mediocrity and that label has been “selling in” by pandering to people either drunk on nostalgia or looking for a new pose (in this case “random logos on leather jackets” types). Then again, death metal has been driven towards being more commercial as time goes on and even though these (Dark Descent) bands’ influences may “be the right ones”, they’re way too obvious/see-through (see Cthelaloo… just look a few articles back) to even be considered “underground” or “great”. None of these bands wrote music to be “the best thing ever”, rather tricked out recreations with no expression of their own other than “you heard this before, buy it again”. There’s a lack of respect and appreciation for the past or even acknowledgement and study of it, but there’s no need for any of that in this “Nu” world where every musician needs to seem important to fulfill a void in life through emulation.

      1. C.M. says:

        I’m really surprised that you would compare BI to Teitanblood, even if not sonically. Do you think that BI is playing for a built-in audience with a prepackaged old-school sound to appeal to nostalgia? Because I didn’t hear that at all, and I have a sneaking suspicion that those who do are just operating on a preconceived notion based on their label, or their logo, or something else. This EP sounds like honest no-frills death metal and nothing more.

  6. C.M. says:

    I’m glad to see that this EP was generally well-received. I object strongly to the “technical death metal” tag because Blood Incantation never venture far outside of conventional techniques and definitely never put instrumental prowess ahead of organization and visceral impact. You’ll hear none of the technical tropes (sweeps in place of chords, jarring shifts in atmosphere, confusing time signatures) in this EP. It is no more technical than Infester or Purtanence (the two closest approximations off the top of my head).

  7. trystero says:

    This music made me sit up and notice it when I heard it in passing. It has a lot of style, it does a lot of things right, but I notice it fails at a pretty significant hurdle. You could call it riffs, you could all it a musical idea wall built with phrasal bricks or even the musical thread of attention (continuous coherence i.e). This is a non-obvious element of music listening poorly communicated through words; the contintuity of immersion. Music which is made by people interested and invested in it for its own sake tends to sound more immediately involved even if it takes on forms which may appear strange and unfamiliar (Demilich, Gorguts). When you listen to enough good metal for long enough you invariably (barring quite significant musical disability) develop a sensitivity to this.

    This is not the same as maintaining close attention to music. Some music, no matter how hard you try or how perfect the conditions, will lose you. Your brain turns off, its boring. A lot of `competent` (in truth utterly inadequate) middle tier music is in this category. Empty of colour, meaning, life. Is this music that bad? No, it has some `colour`, but initial impressions are it falls short. The music is described well in the review but such descriptions ultimately do not matter to the root of aesthetic enjoyment of musical art. They should provide a scaffold for one to explain how it makes one feel. Such justification may feel arbitrary, but its the only one that ultimately counts.

  8. trystero says:

    On further listens, not bad at all. Definitely worth some attention. I expect it will be a highlight for the year. Tracks 3 and 4 on the EP I thought were better. At least its real metal music.

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