Blood Incantation‘s debut full length Starspawn is that rare album that transcends the throwback or old school tag. Matter of fact it renders those terms useless. What it does is sound as though the band boarded a time machine some 25 or so years ago, landed in 2016 with gear in hand and upon exit of said time machine proceed to belt out some amazing death metal. Somewhere along this time traveling journey they picked up an idea to add forward thinking to their otherwise brutish brand of completely analog death metal and the results are nothing short of spectacular.
The Blood Incantation we knew from 2015’s fantastic EP, Interdimensional Extinction, is still strong on this debut. But everything about this album shows growth beyond what a year should normally be able to do. The songwriting is immensely tighter and the playing is simply on another level. Also, the choice to go analog on this one proves to be a great one indeed. Sure this album would still sound like it was straight outta the dawn of death metal in many ways but if the production was pristine as a glassy lake it would lose all of the dusty old vinyl feel it has and subsequently some of it’s warm, dark heart as well.
To create a great album one must first have a strong foundation and this band has one wider than the Mississippi River as far as death metal goes. It’s not hard to find reference points here, anything from the suffocating Azagthoth and Sandoval grooves on “Vitrification Of Blood (Part 1)” to the otherwordly Schuldiner riffs circa Leprosy and Spiritual Healing on the title track (kudos to the band for starting the album off with a bang on the former). To repeat, these are only reference points, this band is no rip off or rehash of anyone. To that point, after all these years of music, death metal or otherwise, it’s difficult if not impossible to steer completely clear of a recognizable vein at least every once in a while.
The technical aspect is yet another trait that plays a huge hand throughout this album. And to be clear, I don’t mean technical as it’s defined today. Rather, technical in the sense of extremely difficult riff verses, tight percussion that dances around each of these riffs and split second tempo changes that all told are some of the most effective thus far this year. For proof look no further than the vicious yet mind numbing “Chaoplasm”. Here, when the band fire on every available cylinder it produces some of the most grin inducing speed and angularity — bordering grindcore intensity — heard since the latest offering from Pyrrhon. The band makes its thematic point of blood turning to glass and great attention to devouring souls; it all points to a power higher than that of mere mortals and more direct to the power of the mind.
On Starspawn, Blood Incantation truly do a fantastic job of playing and sounding like a death metal band back when death metal was in its crude infancy and the sky was the only limit. Many bands have done a great job with keeping the old guard alive but I’ll be damned if this band doesn’t sound like they are the old guard but with a bigger focus on packing as much technicality and intensity into every second as possible. We’ve yet a few months to go before the end of the year but as of this album, the death metal bar has been set very high and it’s going to be difficult to dethrone Blood Incantation come November, December. In the event that you’re a death metal fan you owe it to yourself to experience this album. Breathe it in and enjoy all the varied nuances you’ve been missing in the genre. Open your mind and let Starspawn take over, trust me.