I've been a relatively passive follower of Incite for the last few years. They always struck me as an act with potential, but had yet to strike gold. Furthermore, I think there's some impossibly high expectations inherently created when you're the son of such a proficient figure in the metal scene as Max Cavalera (Soulfly, Sepultura). Blood ties aside, frontman Richie Cavalera has continued to confidently lead the band through fifteen active years, five LPs, a couple EPs, and tours aplenty.
In my opinion, it was their third album, Up in Hell, where the band began to show promise of a unique identity. Singles like "Fallen" and "WTF" revealed their hardcore and groove metal roots laced with a sense of dynamic songwriting. The follow-up, Oppression, expanded their sound by focusing on riffs that were equally hard-hitting as memorable apparent on "Stagnant" or "No Remorse." You can check out my full review of that record here. As I arrived at their most recent album, Built to Destroy, my hopes were that Incite could carry the momentum and quality shown from the prior album into what could be possibly their most focused release.
When I finally had the opportunity to test the waters of the new material, my expectations weren't exactly met. The dynamic pacing and infectious grooves executed on those singles weren't as fully present on this record. "Ruthless Ways" and the title track do have a pummeling sense of ferocity and a catchy song structure is found after a few listens, however, there's an unfortunate lack in spice and seasonings.
Admittedly, there definitely were some parts where the lead guitar snuck in or the vocal melodies went down a more ambitious path and allowed the composition to become more layered and interesting. If Incite had possibly attempted to focus on letting the songs grow into something more colorful rather than being propped up only on groovy riffs and angsty vocals, I think this record would be much more engaging. An example of where I find the band actually showing progress would be "Resistance," which reminded me of a more NWOAHM version of Gojira.
With my constructive criticism out of the way, I will say there are aspects that are most certainly commendable. For starters, the rhythm section is the tightest I've ever heard from this band. "Backbone" and "Ruthless Ways" come to mind as proof that Incite has tightened their loose screws. I'd also give props to producer Steve Evetts (The Dillinger Escape Plan, Hatebreed, Suicide Silence) for the sound quality. Previous Incite releases have included guest features from Liam Cormier (Cancer Bats) and Connor Garritty (All Hail the Yeti), yet this record upped the ante. A lower, gravely vocal register is showcased by Kirk Windstein (Crowbar) and Chris Barnes (Six Feet Under) on "Human Cancer" and "Poisoned by Power" respectively, allowing for much more variety and a compelling contrast.
In the end, I understand that a band can't always grow in quality with each album and for the most part, that's kinda the case on this release. Built to Destroy shows Incite throwing some hard punches, but not necessarily giving any mind to flair or finesse. I have no doubt that these songs will psych fans up in a live setting and they'd be well suited for a gym workout playlist, however this won't be my go-to Incite album. I applaud the band's effort in packing Built to Destroy with energetic, tight, and crushing tracks. Additionally, I was pleasantly surprised by how tight some of these tracks sounded, yet I hope for more inspiring and matured compositions moving forward.