SPACE: the great unknown; the uncaring abyss, threatening death and brutal indifference, always and forever. DEATH: the only thing more awful and unknowable. Drawing on both themes, Blood Incantation stare into the void and tear through the veil, burning away the atmosphere like so much fuel, carving impossible riffs into what might be the best death metal record of the year. These guys start on familiar soil: with an innocuous nod to their namesake, Blood Incantation drop subterranean Incantation riffs and bowel-thrumming guttural growls (ala “Christening the Afterbirth”) into the expected format, and if that’s all they did I wouldn’t be jumping up and down right now. That familiar start is a feint. The Incantation riffs are the bedrock, the building blocks laid bare, the same way a lonesome atom isn’t much to look at before you split that fucker and punch a hole in the sky.
Across 34 minutes, Blood Incantation’s debut LP Starspawn shreds expectations, blasting off in a hundred directions at once, channeling everything from the cosmic extremes of Timeghoul and Sarpanitum all the way to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side psychedelia. Screaming leads cut a swath through the churn of atonal rhythm guitars, blending the bright melodicism of late-period Death with the alien tones of Morbid Angel circa Domination; and when the stars align for a melodic crescendo, Blood Incantation touch down in the same rare air as a band like Horrendous, which is to say this shit is top grade. A few of the longer, weirder songs even venture outside the comfort zone of metal, touching on un-brutal but excellent things like Failure, Sonic Youth, and Fields of the Nephilim. Starspawn is that much richer for its unexpected textures.
“Chaoplasm” is the most straightforward “death metal” song on the record and the least overtly experimental, but it’s still loaded with perfect details. The early riffs gets progressively better as the drums bash faster; the first breakthrough comes when those unbelievable leads cut through the din and this thing really catches fire. The galloping riff at 3:30 is insane; a few seconds later the vocal impersonates a black hole, threatening to swallow the whole song, and it’s one of the best tricks I’ve ever heard on a death metal record. Use this song as a starting point, but do us both a solid and get your hands on the album as soon as humanly possible.
Starspawn is out 8/19 on Dark Descent Records.