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Blood Incantation - Starspawn review


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Band: Blood Incantation
Album: Starspawn
Release date: August 2016

01. Vitrification Of Blood (Part I)
02. Chaoplasm
03. Hidden Species (Vitrification Of Blood Part 2)
04. Meticulous Soul Devourment
05. Starspawn

Starspawn was one of 2016's most hyped albums in the metal underground. In the midst of a death metal renaissance, Blood Incantation delivered a debut full-length that cashed in on the good reputation they gained after their 2015 EP, Interdimensional Exctinction. And while countless bands are looking back at the genre's roots nowadays, unfortunately most seem unable to move away from ultimately being characterized plain copycats; Blood Incantation, however, is not one of these bands.

Merely by looking at the artwork, it becomes clear that this is an old-school death metal-loving release. The impossible-to-read logo and the blurry cover, depicting something that looks like black lava or a lake of hot tar, both prepare the setting for a no-nonsense musical delivery that flows like liquid, but burns like fire. Indeed, liquid fire is the best description I can find for Blood Incantation's old-school, but also technical, brutal and versatile death metal music.

Starspawn kicks off with a 13-minute beast of a song, which hints at everything you will hear in the rest of this release. "Vitrification Of Blood (Part I)" is a death metal anthem, with guitars providing a breathtaking blend of demolishing riffs and melodic leads and a rhythm section that is impressively varied and powerful. The tempo changes are there to make sure that the song doesn't drag and the stellar guitar work offers equal amounts of brutality, melody and progression. The riff played seven-and-a-half minutes into the song is completely otherworldly.

The only flaw here is that none of the next four tracks measures up to the excellence of the opener. This doesn't mean that they are falling too far behind, but the song sequence that the band has chosen slightly undermines the album. It would probably have been wiser for the "Meticulous Soul Devourment" interlude to have been cut in half and used as an opener instead of "Vitrification Of Blood (Part I)", which takes up more than a third of the album's duration. But I guess for most people this may be a trivial issue.

The sound of the album is representative of its cover. Recorded in analogue, the instruments and the guttural vocals sound like they erupt from a volcano somewhere in outer space. The atmosphere, shifting from psychedelic and trippy to oppressive and claustrophobic, is enhanced by a raw and organic production that is a far cry from the plastic and sterile sound we often experience in death metal releases.

Starspawn is only 34 minutes long, but there is a lot of inspiration and complexity in the music to make it sound enough. The band's playing undoubtedly states that it did not come to existence through parthenogenesis. There are distinct influences from acts like Morbid Angel, Gorguts, Demilich and - of course - Death.

However, Blood Incantation do not emulate their legendary ancestors like many uninspired death metal clones do. Instead, they use old techniques to build a basis on which they add their own elements and have managed to produce a unique sound that many of the iconic acts of the genre long for. With a debut like this, the future looks very bright for them.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Production: 9


Written on 31.07.2017 by I was into this music when you were still in diapers.

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