Beheaded - Beast IncarnateBeast Incarnate is a slippery album. It’s business as usual for the Maltese death veterans Beheaded, who have offered up albums with diminishing frequency since their inception, and that means a toasty record of well-performed death metal that’s a bit on the brutal side of things. It’s hard to find a real fault with Beast Incarnate; the performances are tight and not at all flashy, the record’s production is spot-on for the genre, and the band’s new blood play well with the members that have been around since the debut. This is the sort of archetypal death metal record that filters out listeners, distinguishing between those that want something new, and those who want death metal.

Some metalheads get excited about new releases because they’re new; they know what they like and they want more of it. This album is for them. If you like death metal without a hint of pretense, pomp, or progression, Beast Incarnate has your fix. The title track leaves nothing to the imagination, rolling out a crushing riff immediately and following it up with a wealth of variations on that theme. This formula should get repetitive, but “Beast Incarnate” is one of the album’s most memorable songs because of how thoroughly it explores that initial idea.

Most of the songs on Beast Incarnate are similarly thought-out; they’re cohesive as stand-alone tracks and never try to trick you or lead you astray. If you think it’s time to switch riffs, it’s time to switch riffs. If you anticipate a blast beat, a blast beat will occur. Every time I hear “Crossing the House of Knives” or “The Black Death,” I’m pleased by how well-handled this material is. Yet that’s about as much as I have to say about it. Death metal doesn’t have to be catchy or novel, and Beheaded don’t write hooks, melodic leads, or clever riffs. Likewise, they’re not out to impress with extremely demanding playing. These songs are fast, but performed with a charming confidence; Beheaded make it all look easy.

Beheaded 2017

New(ish) vocalist Frank Calleja glues this album together with a powerful performance aided by just a bit of reverb for depth, and though at times he can feel a bit high in the mix, that never detracts from the rest of the album’s sound. The mix, courtesy of Ronnie Björnström, is even-handed and works well, especially in a context where there’s not much polyphony at play. Again, there’s nothing interesting to say about this album’s production; it fits the music like a glove, only adding to the long list of things that this album has going for it.

There’s another kind of metalhead that gets excited about new releases because they’re novel; they might be different than what you’ve heard before. I suppose I must be one of them, because, despite my appreciation for all of the great things going on in Beast Incarnate, I can’t really get interested in it. Like a lot of long-running brutal death metal bands (Hour of PenanceSuffocation), Beheaded are too good at what they do to want to shake things up, and they aren’t expanding – or alienating – their fanbase by doing so. It’s hard to frame this album as bad, and I’m hesitant to call it mediocre. Beast Incarnate simply isn’t different. The songs are new, but the feeling is the same, and if you’re a noviphile like me, that’s enough to quickly drop it from memory. I can recommend Beast Incarnate for its construction, but not its content.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Unique Leader
Releases Worldwide: January 27th, 2017

Share →
  • Jason

    Kudos to you for using a word I had to look up (noviphile). However, I have to deduct points because I couldn’t find a definition.

    I think the rating is fair. I like the embedded track, but I don’t know if I like it enough to buy the album.

    • Kronos

      Wow it really does appear that I made that one up. That seems impossible though, I’ll have to try and figure out where I got it from.

      • [not a Dr]

        urban dictionary?

        • ElectricEye

          Maybe “neophile” is the word you were looking for?

          • Kronos

            Indeed it is.

          • Thatguy

            But what the hell, noviphile it is.

          • PanzerFistDominatrix

            Necropedophile perhaps? Sure you weren’t spinning Tomb of the Mutilated when proof reading?

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        You made it up? If you did, just be repentless about it.

  • Edged with two syllables. There’s your something new.

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    While I enjoyed “Never To Dawn”, I understand your criticisms completely. I feel that was the only record that felt invigorated in their otherwise by-the-numbers discography. Might check this out regardless; they don’t disappoint in the riff department.

  • I sorta felt the same way about the album too. It was done right but nothing more than that.

  • Norfair Legend

    Anyone else extremely bothered by lyric videos? They words just coming in from all directions make me angry. I’ll go listen on bandcamp or something but a lyric video is an automatic turn off for me.

    • Jason

      I’m only bothered by them when they use shitty, hard-to-read fonts, and actually prefer them to some of the cheesy music videos we tend to get.

    • Zach Ward

      Don’t watch the vid

    • sir_c

      They are only likeable when they used the Papyrus font, obviously.

      • basenjibrian

        No umlauts though!

    • The Unicorn

      I hate them. Truly.

    • Anarchist

      I liked Destrage’s video for Green Neighbour. That’s about it.

  • jersey devil

    Good review! But I am metalhead type #1 I guess. I love this. Vocals are ferocious, perfect. Nice composition on the song and beauty solo too. At least a 3 rating for me. Forged from Fire!

    • Kronos

      Glad this found its audience.

  • I might be comfortable with a familiar foundation, and a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to certain styles like black metal, but I do like something new, memorable and recognizable behind an accustomed exoskeleton. Does that make me a conservative neophiliac?
    Some reviews hardly caress the surface. Kronos, however, got a shovel blade on the other end of his pencil, and the notepad of a shrink, it seems.
    Great review.

  • sir_c

    Novel or traditional, I need both, it depends highly on my mood. Some days I want to be surprised with things unseen. Other days I just long for stuff I know just too well. Food, music, anything.

    I understand your 2.5 for the originality. However, for the execution they deserve a 4. It’s like a properly grilled steak: totally unoriginal, but a joy to consume.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Sometimes it’s not about reinventing the wheel but about keeping it rolling.

  • Artander

    Hey Kronos, thanks for the great review, very helpful. I’ve discovered something quite superb recently, “Ascension” by EXOCRINE, have you heard about it? What do you think? Can’t stop listening to this thing… Cheers.