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Album Review: BLOOD INCANTATION Starspawn

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It feels like there’s a divide amongst old school and modern death metal fans. Maybe it’s just me or maybe I’m the one that’s personally divided. The wonton need for bands to get as brutal/crushing, technical or violent as possible commands attention but also serves to numb. But really, everything boils down to composition. And composition is what’s going to make or break Blood Incantation’s debut.

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But that’s always the case, isn’t it?

Yeah, yeah, obvious point is obvious. Whatever, it matters to bring it up lest some people forget. It’s easy to get lost and focus on one aspect of a band, even if that aspect is done well. Blood Incantation bring together something that you’ve probably heard before, if you frequent death metal. But they also approach it so much ambition that they are one of those bands that stand out.

Getting down to the nitty gritty, you might immediately notice something within the thirteen-minute opener “Vitrification of Blood (Part 1)”. Something about their approach sound familiar? Gorguts. There is no more apt comparison than that. Blood Incantation sound like they’ve studied their Gorguts and really gone the distance. Starspawn is epic and vast in scope. Almost as much as its outer space science material.

The first track is by far the longest, encompassing almost a third of the album’s run time. However, “Vitrification of Blood” is also the best introduction to the album’s sound as it hammers on all the areas you’ll visit throughout. It wastes no time getting brutal before diving into melody and progression. And then after that it even manages to sound like a modern, albeit desolate, modern death metal record. However, the feeling of the album is, largely old school. And, again, endlessly epic.

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The shorter songs following this give us a bite-sized version of the band. Kinda like looking at an individual galaxy in relation to the expanse of the universe. It’s something more collected, but still epic. “Hidden Species (Vitrification of Blood Part 2)” has a cosmic alien essence to it. It feels alien and distant as it floats through the more melodic parts. But when the aggression hits, it’s like finding new life. There’s a picturesque glory to it all that, when you’re in a dark room with headphones on, it really takes you there. Like a swirling Andromeda and Milky Way dancing through the sky.

What’s even more striking in relation to this is how desolate and monolithic the album comes off. The refined writing sounds primitive with how intense the recording/mix is. Paul Riedel’s vocals sound like they’re echoing from a cave in aeons past. It’s the primitive nature of the album that probably won’t surprise listeners, but it will immerse them in the experience. Starspawn is the kind of album that needs your full attention, as it blooms and wilts constantly.

Clocking in at only five tracks and just over thirty-five-minutes, Starspawn isn’t a long descent. When all is said and done it weirdly feels surprisingly short. And this is coming from a guy who usually reviews grindcore. Nevertheless, this also shows how immersive Starspawn is. And while Wormed are off waging nano-tech warfare, Blood Incantation is a less aggressive, more ambient approach to the depths of space that will please old school and modern fans alike. Get lost. Let yourself float. Asphyxiate. We all drift out here.

Score: 9/10

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