Incantation - Dirges of Elysium

Posted on Friday, August 01, 2014

When I thumb through issues of my old fanzine [Portrait of Defiance -Editor], so many things piss me off. Poor grammar, typos, errors, bad interview questions, bad jokes, half-assed reviews, my constant misuse of the Power Metal genre tag… I could keep going but it’s too painful. In my defense, I was as young, dumb and full of cum as a Metalhead could be, but that’s no excuse for being a semi-retarded asshole all the time. (There’s a reason that —assuming I can outlive, like, 6 people— there won’t be a soul at my funeral.) But what makes me cringe the most about those old rags is how mean I was to Incantation. And not only when I’d review their material. I’d often go out of my way to take shots at them in other bands’ reviews! I was such a bullheaded, all-or-nothing kid. If I didn’t find something instantly memorable, I’d take a Dumb and Dumber shit all over it and disregard its value altogether. Back then, I didn’t realize that an album’s feel could yield the same staying power as great songs and riffs. That vibe alone could stand the test of time, or that the menacing aura of pure unbridled evil that Incantation achieved with Onward to Golgotha and Mortal Throne of Nazarene would never be equaled, despite countless imitators. These days I can put those records on and easily get lost in a sound so ominously brutal it’s soothing, even if 20 years later I still can’t hum any of the riffs to you. The good news is that present-day Incantation is still heavy as fuck, and that whole memorable thing has been significantly ironed out. John McEntee has become quite the songwriter in his old age, and for about the last decade-plus we’ve been treated to the best of both underworlds. Dirges of Elysium picks up right where 2012’s Vanquish in Vengeance left off. A whirlwind of powerful hooks encased in blast paired with… well… dirges of Elysium. This might be McEntee’s best vocal performance since taking over the mic a decade ago. A few slight hiccups, but for the most part he revels in Old School guttural glory while even managing to be understandable at times. Some of the LP’s longer cuts tend to drag on a bit, and 16-minute closer “Elysium (Eternity Is Nigh)” is just about impossible to sit all the way through, but overall Dirges is yet another worthwhile addition to a body of work that speaks for itself.
Suggested mixtape selections: “Debauchery,” “Carrion Prophecy,” “Charnel Grounds,” “Impalement of Divinity,” and “Dominant Ethos.”

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