BloodIncantationArtworkThe endless darkness, desolation, intriguing mystery and suffocating atmosphere of space pairs well with metal. Science fiction themes, dystopian futures and extra terrestrial shenanigans are all familiar sources of inspiration in the metal scene, however Colorado up and comers Blood Incantation do a particularly excellent job of nailing down the dense reality, claustrophobic atmosphere and otherworldly vibe of our mysterious universe on their hugely impressive full-length debut, Starspawn. These old school loving space cadets with a forward thinking attitude are another young band hellbent on stripping away the overly slick, artificial sheen so prevalent in modern death metal in favor of the grimy atmospherics, sonic girth and uncleansed ugliness of death metal’s rich past. Blood Incantation are set to cash in on the considerable potential they displayed on 2015’s Interdimensional Extinction EP, ramming home the advantage with this debut LP of serious fucking magnitude.

Starspawn touches on the oozing-with-evil atmospheric streak of classic Morbid Angel and the tweaked harmonies and brain scrambling experimentation of Demilich and Gorguts, looking to the past for inspiration while casting their own innovative spell. Masterful songcraft, striking innovation and dynamically sound compositions propel Blood Incantation into unknown pockets of blackness as they navigate astutely through technically proficient and dense death pastures, funereal dirges, strange otherworldly zones and tripped-out passages of psychedelic exploration. Blood Incantation’s impressive rhythm section is integral to the thunderous, low-end assault and intricate, groovy foundation, however it’s the formidable guitar work of Paul Riedl and Morris Kolontyrsky that steals the show. Corkscrewing leads, screaming solos, thick, warmed-up death riffs and trippy detours are deftly handled, their dynamic teamwork suitably stocked with clever shifts in mood and tempo. The riffs are technical without being showy, whether fast and furious or slow and crushing, leaning towards the cavernous yet memorable, atmospheric and groovy end of the death spectrum.

Mind altering psychedelic detours add to the album’s mystique and are executed without an ounce of pretension or gimmick on epic 13 minute opener “Vitrification of Blood (Part 1).” Without doubt one of the most ambitious and surreal death metal jams you’ll hear in 2016, the epic tune leaves nothing left in the tank. Driven by Isaac Faulk’s rhythmically tricky and hammering percussion, it grips from the opening notes and doesn’t relent through a captivating feast of death metal awesomeness. Running the gamut from death and doom, to psych excursions and pummeling groove, Blood Incantation effortlessly shifts gears throughout a cohesive and flowing structure, avoiding clunky transitions. “Hidden Species (Vitrification of Blood Part 2)” stands out with a bludgeoning mix of death metal brawn and brains, developing from a complex beginning of brutish groove into a moody death-doom mindfuck, complete with strange clean chants and other effect-driven oddities. Closer “Starspawn” ends the album with an intergalactic bang, its progressive swing and insidious melody offset by a primitive old school pummel and blasty punch. Starspawn also benefits from restraint, with the compact and refreshingly punchy 34-minute run time strongly supporting repeat listens.

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Recorded entirely in analog, Starspawn’s throwback sound feels neither forced nor dated. To the contrary, the album’s impressive dynamics, warm organic sound and punchy, balanced tones offer something vibrant and inviting, flipping the bird to the soulless, overly polished tripe that remains all too familiar in the modern death metal scene. The drums sound especially huge and powerful, especially the chest thumping double bass, the fretless bass nestles cozily in the mix, while the thick and meaty guitars retain enough detail, sharpness and clarity for closer dissection. Issues are few and far between, mostly boiling down to the sequencing of the album’s five tracks. Opening with a 13-minute monster, regardless of how good the song is, this was a ballsy move but I’m not sure how logical it turned out to be. Meanwhile penultimate track “Meticulous Soul Devourment” would have worked better smack in the middle of the album, serving as an eerily effective and ominous instrumental transition.

Blood Incantation eschew the flash and pitfalls of modern death metal, displaying a deep appreciation for the roots and raw essence of the genre’s early ’90s heyday. Despite their respectful old-school appreciation they don’t sound like another typical retro clone, standing out from the pack with innovative songwriting, creating their own original deathly design. Superbly written and crafted, Starspawn is an exceptional album full of memorable moments, top notch songwriting and oppressive atmosphere, comfortably residing near the top of 2016’s death metal heap.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Dark Descent Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: August 19th, 2016

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  • André Snyde Lopes

    Just listened to it on bandcamp this morning and damn this is vicious. The cover and logo are terrible but the music is great!

    • It’s a picture of where the band’s ship crashed in the Rockies. Sentimental value. Aliens come to earth to start a death metal band. Of course they did.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        They’ll destroy us all! With face-melting riffs!

    • Dethjesta

      I don’t think you are supposed to be able to read the logos of death metal bands. For that they deserve some points, although they may have pushed it too far.

      • [not a Dr]

        Are we supposed to call them “The Artists Previously Unknown as Blood Incantation”?

    • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

      The cover is blurry! Even on the hi-res version on their bandcamp page (you can tell that the logo and title are clear on it) why would you do that?

      Also yeah, not a fan of the logo. Feels like it belongs to a slam band.

      • [not a Dr]

        They took the picture from a distant system. Of course you loose clarity over the distance.

  • Kill The King

    My gods this album kicked my ass. Vocals are standout too. A bit Swanöish?

    • Mindi B

      YES! I thought that too

  • This band really deserves an extra point for this shirt. Maybe two extra points.

    • Dethjesta

      At first, I thought these were Christmas jumpers.

      • basenjibrian

        Well…you know the anagram of Santa is…SATAN….don’t you? In this case….SPACE SATAN.

        • [not a Dr]

          Scape Satan?

    • Eli Valcik

      That looks like a ugly christmas sweater and I love it

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        That looks indeed like an ugly christmas sweater…

  • Gaëtan Baratin

    According to the empirical law of Death’s albums, stipulating “The uglier the cover, the better the record”, this should be a masterpiece.

  • Diego Molero

    I’m to infinity and beyond with this thing, so good!

  • ars_nihili

    This band logo reminded me of that thousand years old joke. Great music, though!

  • Vic279

    Reading your review I was expecting a 4.5 or 5.0 score as there are not any downsides mentioned. Good review nontheless though.

    • Luke_22

      Yeah this was very close to a 4.5. No major issues with the album but at this stage probably falls short of elite status. Still a great album though.

  • Fuzzybunny

    Why do I love this…. It is very much ‘not my thing ‘ maybe my taste is improving…

  • AndySynn

    I was looking forward to the AMG review of this, because I personally can’t pin down my feelings towards it yet. I like it… but I feel like I should like it more. Think maybe the melodic parts and the heavier parts aren’t quite sitting together properly for me (yet).

    Definitely good though.

  • ElectricEye

    Reminds me of Sulphur Aeon and Howls of Ebb which I really like. Enjoying what I have heard so far.

  • Pacal

    Cool stuff, but that album art is actively preventing me from liking the music more…makes JFaC’s Sun Eater art look like a masterpiece.

    • M C

      The album art was done by Don Dixon in the 70s. He does Sci Fi art and art for NASA.

      • Pacal

        I take it this is a zoomed/cropped part of a larger piece then?

        • M C

          The CD version is. The vinyl version is slightly different. Unfortunately, this is a nearly lost piece by the artist. So while it isn’t the sharpest piece, it is the best representation of the remaining art available.

          • Pacal

            With that in mind I will certainly judge it much less harshly. Thanks for the background info! I’ll Google Don Dixon and check out some of his other stuff for reference.

  • Dagoth_RAC

    Loved the Interdimensional Extinction EP. Great bass playing and you can actually hear it! Guitar solos reminded me of James Murphy at times. Really looking forward to this full length.

  • Adjudant

    Love the high quality DR on this but it is sort of pushing the boundaries as an ‘EP’ isn’t it? Why not add one more track and release it as an album, or even as it is now. I approve of it musically!

    • Luke_22

      This has been marketed as the band’s debut full length album as far as I’m aware.

      • M C

        It’s 35 minutes. What makes it an EP?

  • Wilhelm

    holy balls, this sounds amazing

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    I see more and more bands getting compared to Demilich these days… quite the feat considering they released only one full length album over 20 years ago. Makes me wonder if the Demilich influence is something that the bands playing the music would recognize and admit to or if its more in the ear of the reviewers.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    The guitar solos here remind me of Mithras, another excellent Death Metal band fond of outer space.

  • Mr T

    Now this I like! Not expecting anything going in but that first song is killer.

  • jersey devil

    I love this album. I hear brand new things every listen. Multiple passages within each song, each quite unexpected but perfectly fitting, take you on a journey through death metal heaven. Also I must commend the review here–really compelling writing. Nice job. I liked the space analogy, which I never thought of before, and might use to impress my friends. (However, I hear nothing in the atmosphere of this records that reminds me of Morbid Angel here.)

  • drug_genosh

    only a few months left, but this is easily looking to be my AOTY. That 13 minute opener might be the most seemless, cohesive & riff packed song ive heard thats not either doom/stoner.

  • Maximos662

    Just getting to this now…. downloaded it last night, and I’ll put it this way: I love the new Obscura record, and listened to it nonstop for at least a week, both because I genuinely enjoy it, and because I’m OK with prog that tends to meander.

    But this is waaaaayyyy better. This is one that I’ll put on years from now, and still have that ‘holy shit’ reaction.

  • Mindi B

    Picked it up off their bandcamp. Impressive!

  • SegaGenitals

    This album is great. Warm production. Nice mix of old and new