Incantation - Sect of Vile Divinities [Relapse - 2020]For 30+ years, Incantation has been one of the most recognizable names in death metal. Spreading the sound further from the Florida and New York scenes, Incantation made a name for themselves with their early releases, and despite plenty of line-up changes, continued to hold strong. 2020 sees their latest full length, Sect of Vile Divinities, keeping their love of death metal alive and kicking.
Filed under, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," Sect of Vile Divinities is a tried and true death metal album. Incantation is pretty consistent in their approach, and do very well mixing up tempos. From as far back as their Golgotha days, they've teased the slow, plodding line while others were in an arms race for hyper speed. This is accentuated in songs like "Ignis Fatuus," and are really what makes Incantation stand out. Followed by the pounding frenzy of "Chant of Formless Dread," one understands why this band has been on the lips of every death metal fan for the past thirty years. These moments of juxtaposition are the tent poles of the album and keep it from falling flat. That's not to say that Sect is a bad album, it's just very familiar. Death Metal Deja Vu is pretty common, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Not every album has to be a technical marvel or something groundbreaking. However, as bands grow and access to technology increases, recordings get cleaner and tighter. Riffs and compositional techniques that sounded brilliant with a bit of grime look a lot different in the bright light. There's charm in a patina, and this is another aspect of Sect - it needs some slop. The fast bits are nice, but the breakdowns could benefit from greasy sludge. The drums, while solid and pummeling, feel a bit too crisp (something in the cymbals). It could just be nostalgia talking, but Incantation was always the best with cavernous, vile drums releasing the tremolo bats.
Incantation's latest, Sect of Vile Divinities, has the death metal veterans pummeling and shredding through twelve doomy tracks. A solid entry into their discography, Sect won't surprise long time fans, but it won't let them down, either. While some spots on the album are truly fist raising, the rest is death metal you can set your watch to. And, again, that's not necessarily a bad thing.Paul Casey