INCANTATION – Celebrating 25 Years Of Brutal, Guttural Death Metal
June 14, 2016, 2 years ago
Surviving 25 years in extreme metal is no small task; surviving that long when the music in question is brutal, guttural death metal is outstanding. It’s what Incantation has done, and the Pennsylvania death metallers are celebrating with XXV, a limited-edition, vinyl-only release that looks back at their history in a unique, and fun, way. Side one features four studio tunes, mainly older cuts re-recorded; side two is four live songs. As guitarist/vocalist/founder John McEntee explains, the album is meant as a celebration of the band reaching this point and is also something cool for fans to have in their collections.
“We were originally going to try to do some kind of double 7” release or something, but it just didn’t seem feasible money-wise, so we decided to do a full-length release, because we had a bunch of extra live songs that we were supposed to use but never ended up using them,” he says. “We thought it would be cool to do kind of an old-school release with a live side and a studio side.”
For the studio side, McEntee says that the songs chosen all have significant sentimental meaning to him, especially “Unholy Massacre” and “Profanation,” which were the first two songs written for Incantation.
“I don’t really care about outdoing the older versions, and it’s not without respect for the older versions,” he clarifies, “it’s more because those songs are so important to me as building blocks for everything we’ve done as a band.”
What sticks out most about the four songs on the studio side is how well they flow together; this sounds like it could be side one of the new Incantation studio album. McEntee chalks it up to the band having a solid vision since day one.
“From the beginning, when I started the band, I wanted to be a band that didn’t lose the essence of what it’s supposed to be as a band. I always got kinda bummed out because in the ’80s, a lot of my favourite bands disappointed me. When Judas Priest put out Turbo it really bummed me out. Or Kreator, I was a big fan of Kreator, especially Pleasure To Kill, but the longer they were around, the more they started getting softer. So I didn’t want to do that because I knew how much it crushed me. You can still grow and represent yourself, but you can still be who you are. We’re a death metal band; we’re proud to be death metal.”
Given the nature of the release, it seemed appropriate to ask McEntee about his personal picks for favourite and least favourite Incantation albums. He starts with his least favourite, pointing to 2000’s The Infernal Storm.
“It felt rushed,” he admits. “[Drummer] Dave Culross did a phenomenal job but it just didn’t quite have the feeling that I personally thought those songs could have had if we had a permanent drummer instead of just a fill-in for that album. My favourite, it’s really difficult to say, but probably the one that kinda means the most to me—besides our first, which is always important—is probably [2002’s] Blasphemy. On The Infernal Storm, we had problems where we didn’t have Kyle [Severn] playing drums for us, and for Blasphemy we had Kyle back and it just felt so refreshing and so nice to do that album. To me, the Blasphemy album represents everything that is important about Incantation.”
And even though the band is allowing themselves a bit of time to look back on 25 years of Incantation, they’re also looking ahead: McEntee says that they’re currently in the process of finishing up their next album, which will be their tenth.
“It looks like it might not be totally finished for a few months now; there were a couple minor setbacks,” he says. “We have most of the songs actually recorded, it’s just the production aspect got set back a little bit. We were hoping to get it out this year but it looks like it might be safer to say early next year for the new album. I’m really psyched about it; it’s really back to the roots but also has some really interesting aspects that we haven’t done before, necessarily. I think it’s going to show people that we’re sticking to our roots but also have a lot of fresh ideas.”