The latest wave of death metal has seen no shortage of quality releases. From the grim to the technical, to old school sentimentalities, and beyond. It's been a brutal ride up to this point and there are no signs of going easy on the bloodletting. Certain bands have been cutting apart the boundaries with a fine scalpel.
Blood Incantation’s eight-year existence might not yield much discography-wise, but they more than make up for it in quality. Some might remember their stellar 2016 full-length debut, Starspawn. An old school album, recorded completely analog, that would not have sounded all that out of place in the 80s. The composition was phenomenal, hypnotic, and otherworldly while maintaining some of the heaviest riffs of the season. And now the band offers up their sophomore release, Hidden History of the Human Race.
Whatever you think you know about Blood Incantation, whatever you think they're capable of, they are far beyond those expectations. A veritable black hole has been carved into their death-dealing sound and Blood Incantation pulls us into it. Like the shape-shifting, time-traveling race of the Anunnaki that the band loves to talk about, their sound too is reflective of the mythos. Throughout four tracks the time signatures warp, sounds shift, atmosphere swings, and death distorts.
Maybe the best way to describe Hidden History of the Human Race would be to call this a death metal jam record. On the other hand, that's also not entirely true. There are so many angles to this record. From just straight death to incredibly technical passages, to more chill psychedelic moments. Sometimes these things come gently, sometimes suddenly, but never in a jarring way that it detracts from the experience. Every moment on this record is so coldly calculated it's unreal. When "Slave Species of the Gods" kicks in, it sounds like Blood Incantation is gearing up for a proper Starspawn follow up. But really, it's an eclipse.
Once again, going with an all-analog sound is Blood Incantation's thing, but here the production is much tighter and less dark than Starspawn. “Slave Species of the Gods” sounds brighter while still keeping a raw sound and a crushing, brutal edge. The song wastes no time getting to the meaty bits and before long Blood Incantation are turning every which way. Breaking things down, getting nice and technical while speeding things up, and soloing. The best touches are the echoes that surround the tracks, adding a spacey, psych touch.
The second track “The Giza Power Plant” comes in all piss and vinegar just like the prior. Amazing guitar/drum/bass work pushes the track forward. Section after section the track gets heavier and heavier—then it breaks down into a spacey jam. It’s soothing for a bit; however, the band doesn’t let the mood sit for too long. It’s like a death metal jam session gone on a hallucinogenic trip. It’s a track that spends a lot of time on the lower, more chill end of things. But that doesn’t stop it from setting the stratosphere on fire with its brutality. And by the time it ends, it’s like watching a planet burn to a smoldering lump of coal the size of a forehead.
“Inner Paths (To Outer Space)” is a meditative track. For some, this might be the track they want to skip, it’s slower and all about building a mood. While the rest of the album has done that nonstop, this track layers on less. It’s mostly instrumental (there’s one growl by Antti Boman of Demilich) and emulates that feeling of one’s body being crushed after having smoked way too much weed. If anything, it’s the acquired taste on the record.
The final offering “Awakening from the Dream of Existence to the Multidimensional Nature of Our Reality (Mirror of the Soul)” is above and beyond anything on the album. A massive track at 18 minutes, but by far the most breathtaking offering on the record. It’s an incredible amalgamation of progressive, brutal, psychedelic, and old school death metal. The track weaves so seamlessly and maintains a pace that makes not a single second of it boring. All the way up until its melodic clean guitar ending, the track is an odyssey of sounds. It’s Blood Incantation’s finest moment thus far.
Anyone that is predisposed to dislike Blood Incantation probably will not have their mind changed with this record. Maybe there will be some but for the most part, one seems to either love or hate the band. I still encourage the willing to try and give it a fair shake. Hidden History of the Human Race is probably the finest offering of death metal for the year. There is not a single wasted or uninspired moment. Blood Incantation has outdone themselves in every regard. Sit back, strap in and be crushed by the vacuum of space.