BLOOD INCANTATION — Hidden History of the Human Race (review)

BLOOD INCANTATION — Hidden History of the Human Race album cover Album · 2019 · Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
BLOOD INCANTATION has really made a name for itself in the last few years with its unique blend of psychedelic metal inspired by the legendary underground act Timeghoul mixed with the more rabid venomous bombast of classic early 90s Morbid Angel. While this Denver band hasn’t exactly reinvented the wheel when it comes to the world of death metal, they have managed to forge several disparate strains of extreme metal into the same playing field and in the process have managed to stand out in the seemingly endless supply of bands that are vying for recognition. Formed all the way back in 2011, the band released a few demos and the EP “Interdimensional Extinction” in 2013 but didn’t unleash the first full-length release upon the metal world until 2016 with “Starspawn” which displayed a fully seasoned band that mastered the art of the challenges of tech death metal without the ceaseless rapid fire assaults that turn many off. In other words they mastered the art of varied soundscapes.

“Starspawn” put the band on the map for its innovative mix of death metal and progressive rock with psychedelic elements and after that the band went even further with its sophomore release HIDDEN HISTORY OF THE HUMAN RACE which displays the 70s art of Bruce Pennington as cover art and incorporates many sci-fi and alternative history theories as a basis for its subject matter. This thematic approach goes hand in hand with the increased use of Timeghoul inspired psychedelia and in the process has increased awareness of a new strain of what is being called psychedelic death metal which merges the orotundity of the instrumental bombast and death vocal growls with more atmospheric eeriness that has been much more popular in the world of black metal. Due to the lengthy slower passages, it not surprising that the death metal cedes to a more doomy dirge-like pace.

While death metal is clearly the star of the show here, BLOOD INCANTATION led by guitarist / vocalist Paul Riedl has exponentially increased the influences from progressive rock as well and as a result this album of 36 minutes and 20 seconds only consists of four tracks with the showcase crown jewel “Awakening From the Dream of Existence to the Multidimensional Nature of Our Reality (Mirror of the Soul)” swallowing up half the playing time with classic prog twists and turns fortified with the metal attributes the band has already established for itself. Touted as one of the best new metal bands of contemporary extreme metal, HIDDEN HISTORY OF THE HUMAN RACE certainly has its appeal. It’s well paced with no nonsense tech death metal passages that will please the most jaded extreme metall-o-phile along with lengthy drifting passages that explore surreal and psychedelic textures with atmospheric eeriness that evoke astral terror. However there are a few things that bug me about this album as well so let me tell you about them!

“Slave Species Of The Gods” is a feisty and appropriate opener as it not only delivers the crushing metal riffs and blastbeat frenzies expected of metal’s most dangerous offspring but establishes the band as one that doesn’t compromise its core principles for the sake of expanding its tentacles into non-metal arenas. The subject matter evokes the mysteries of the hidden history that reminds me of the possibilities presented by such alt history researchers as Zecharia Sitchin which really make you wonder if humanity has been controlled all along by unseen alien forces that have the ability to shape shift and travel between dimensions. While establishing the band as a pyroclastic explosion of death metal energy, this is also the least varied track but manages to throw in a few classic Morbid Angel guitar squeals and yes this band does owe a lot to Morbid Angel in the heavier aspects of its sound.

“The Giza Power Plant” follows suit as another bombastic blood curdling example of tech death metal only the riffs are more jagged and angular while Riedl’s vocals are more tortured and set back in the mix. The track is more varied in that it not only pummels with an exhaustive array of tech death riffs but throws in some classic old school death metal parts as well. All is well until about the 2 minute mark a stylistic shift suddenly occurs and the death metal turns into a psychedelic menagerie of Egyptian styled folk music that sounds lifted right out of the Nile playbook. Given the theme and folk segment, it just seems way too derivative for its own good. The music is more melodic than the average Nile romp through along with the ancient Pharaohs and it does offer some interesting variations but considering Nile is a contemporary band this seems a little rip-offy for my tastes.

This brings me to my next complaint about this album. “Inner Paths (To Outer Space)” serves more as a psychedelic intermission between the first two tracks and the lengthy progressive closer. This one begins with dark ambient sounds bubbling up from the abyss and slowly percolates with synth swirls and a percussive groove that slowly builds up momentum. Joined in by guitar and bass, it sounds like a great idea but after hearing this it kept nagging me that i’ve heard this riff before. After a few spins it came to me that the melodic guitar riff is the same as the intro of “Red Barchetta” from Rush’s classic “Moving Pictures” which once realized gives you insight into how much the great Rush inspired BLOOD INCANTATION as well. Now mind you, this track is very cool and very well done especially how it builds and builds until it climaxes in a death metal orgasmic flow of angst and then drifts off into psychedelia but i honestly can’t get past that the riff was so blatantly lifted.

The true gem of this album is the grand finale “Awakening From The Dream Of Existence To The Multidimensional Nature Of Our Reality (Mirror Of The Soul)” which kind of amasses everything that came before, mixes it together in different proportions and then adds a bunch of new ideas that deliver a cosmic death metal delivery that lasts for over 18 minutes. Chock full of both finger breaking metal wankery and long existential drifts into surreality, this track embodies the very essence of what one would consider progressive death metal, that being a creative lengthy sprawl of death metal magic that is teased out into lengthy massive chunks of real estate. Basically this track is a multi-segmented one that meanders and trades off between surreal passages and more bombastic metal rampage. There’s even a small tribute to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon” around the seven minute mark where those oscillating electronic noises gurgle up from behind the scenes before the metal mania resumes. This is a phenomenally brilliant track and is worth the price of admission alone.

Despite my gripes (which are significant) about this album and how BLOOD INCANTATION chose to use some too obvious references in its compositions, i cannot help but admire how well the album is stitched together otherwise. HIDDEN HISTORY OF THE HUMAN RACE basically carries the torch of the possibilities that could have been attained by the legendary Timeghoul if only they had stuck around beyond two mere demos. While very few probably ever heard those legendary sounds tucked away in the 90s underground, BLOOD INCANTATION has done a huge service in not only bringing Timeghoul to the metal world’s attention but has also taken the baton and run away with the stylistic approach never realized. In that regard BLOOD INCANTATION has crafted a brilliant display of psychedelic and progressive death metal unlike anything else. If only it weren’t for those too close for comfort experiences with Rush and Nile and i’d rate this even higher. One thing is for sure, BLOOD INCANTATION is an act to keep your eyes on. The next album will be eagerly awaited with high expectations.
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UMUR wrote:
60 days ago
To those who enjoy Blood Incantation, I can highly recommend checking out Spectral Voice, which is a kind of doom/death version of Blood Incantation. The link is only natural though, as the two acts share three members.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
4 months ago
You're not a prog guy i know. Too much funny business :D
Vim Fuego wrote:
4 months ago
Good review, but I really couldn't get into this. I simply got bored with it I think.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
4 months ago
Thanks!
Tupan wrote:
4 months ago
Ah, good review, man! Agree with most of it, only being half star higher.

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