Death metal fans are gonna know exactly what I'm talking about here: after the end of a particularly long day recently, I put on the headphones and spun Vanquish In Vengeance, the latest from long-running death metal crew INCANTATION. It was my first time listening to the disc (their ninth), and the music just took me to places that only the most powerful death metal has the power to. It's not exactly a radical change from any of the band's other output, but the production sound is spot-on, the sludgey parts have never sounded more insane and horrible (that's a good thing: look out, IMMOLATION!), and the grinding parts have a downright guttural, churning, emotive vibe to them. I honestly had an epiphany that this is perfect music, so when I wrangled up guitarist/vocalist John McEntee to chat, I told him just that.
“Wow, that is definitely a honour,” he says. “Music is meant to take you on a journey away from reality, at least for us. For you to be able to get so much out of what we do is just amazing. For myself, I always like when albums take me on some sort of journey. And I have also always been a fan of all aspects of death metal. So including some total agonizing doom parts is just a natural part of our sound as a band. All these songs really mean a lot to all of us, and I hope that more people could get as much out of it as you did.”
Did, and continue to do after repeat listens, the drums alone conjuring up an atmosphere that needs to be heard to be believed. And the guitar work? Talk about vibe. I mean, I hate talking about vibe because it sounds totally flaky. And most death metal bands don't have much of a vibe, so that takes care of that. But Incantation vibe, hard.
“It's all about the vibe,” says McEntee (who also plays in the excellent vibe-heavy sludge/death underdogs FUNERUS). “I think it's always best to hear the album all at one time so the songs are in context. Also I've always been a fan of making sure whatever riffs we play help the feeling of the song
come across better. It's the feeling of the riff, not the notes themselves, that are important. This is something we do on all our albums. But I think with the strong lineup and the dual guitar attack we
are able to take our feeling to the next level.”
Speaking of the strong lineup, that's one thing that these Pennsylvania-based deathsters have consistently lacked (they have strong lineups, but they don't often last long, that is). But McEntee says that the crew he has together now are working together loud and proud.
“It was a real group effort, and everything came together very naturally,” he says about the album. “We have a strong lineup in the band now and we're all friends along with having the same vision for Incantation. What more can I ask for? I feel very fortunate to be able to have such a strong album after all these years; it's a great accomplishment for all of us. I think I speak for the whole band when I
say we are very proud of this release and stand behind it 100%. We all really put so much into it.”
McEntee is so proud of the album that he ranks it among the best that he's ever created. No small task for a man who has been involved in some death metal masterpieces over the years.
“As a personal achievement I feel that this is quite possibly one of the strongest albums I've ever
done,” he says. “No matter what other people think about it I know it's something I can be proud of.”