Blood Incantation‘s 2016 debut, Starspawn, catapulted the sci-fi loving Denver crew into underground stardom. The album’s ambitious fusion of progressive and psychedelic elements into a beefy old school death core was incredibly well executed, smartly written, and addictive to boot, marking Blood Incantation as kindred spirits with legends Morbid Angel and Demilich, along with modern trailblazers like Horrendous. Some three years later Blood Incantation‘s sophomore LP comes with a magnitude of hype and anticipation. Bottom line, Blood Incantation are considered a big fucking deal. Hidden History of the Human Race comes strapped with the band’s sci-fi themed worship of the dark mysteries of space and whether the truth is indeed out there. So with the hype train plunging forward at reckless speeds, can they deliver on the promise and expectation to punch out an album that expands on the endearing qualities and innovation ripe throughout Starspawn?
Right off the bat Blood Incantation fired an early trick shot with the pre-release unveiling of “Inner Paths (to Outer Space).” The expansive, trippy psychedelic jam had merit and artistic integrity, continuing the spacey path of the psych passages and explorations on Starspawn. Yet from some, its concerning lack of death metal traits, left listeners to ponder whether Blood Incantation were about to jettison their deathly roots and spiral down a wormhole of proggy indulgence. Thankfully, upon cracking open the mysteries of Hidden History of the Human Race, “Slave Species of the Gods” dispels any concerns. Kicking into action with bulldozing immediacy, Blood Incantation‘s trademark deathly power tools are wielded with technical finesse and cutthroat brutality. The song’s structure is fluid, progressive and unpredictable, yet remains bound together by skillful dynamic shifts, memorable writing, and a perfectly proportioned mix of brutality, melody and groove.
“The Giza Power Plant” continues the album’s high quality on the back of the blockbusting opener, while securely carrying its own identity. The song finds Blood Incantation playing up their atmospheric, psych tendencies, featuring doomy passages, and a Middle Eastern melodies in a space aesthetic, executed without pretension or sacrifice of their usual heft and guttural inclinations. However the album’s towering highlight and epic climax comes via 18-minute closer, the sensationally composed and ludicrously titled, “Awakening From the Dream of Existence to the Multidimensional Nature of Our Reality (Mirror of the Soul).” Truly a high water mark in Blood Incantation‘s career thus far, the song more than justifies its extended length and feels much shorter due to the busy, shape-shifting nature of the intricate composition and constant supply of memorable, attention grabbing moments and sick, headbangable riffs. The potential for Blood Incantation to lose hold of the reins and indulge themselves excessively, thankfully never eventuates, the atmospheric elements adding to the immersion, climaxing with the delicate and emotive closing outro.
Performance-wise, dueling guitars, courtesy of vocalist Paul Riedl and Morris Kolontyrsky, ping pong all over the place with remarkable cohesion and fretboard expertise, ripping through space and time in a vortex of technical shred, gut-punching old school death riffs, warped harmonies, and chaotic soloing. The duo have a clear and well practiced understanding of death metal’s old school roots and values, but aren’t content to play it safe, challenging themselves on a technical level while embracing their melodic and progressive urges in ways that never hampers the flow and overall heaviness of the material. Riedl’s filthy low growls fit the part and the solid bass playing of Jeff Barrett and intricate drum patterns and groovy rhythms from Isaac Faulk round out the finely tuned package. Furthermore, the warmth of the analogue production provides a strong organic backbone for the songs to come to life. There are no major complaints, though as cool and quirky a tune as the mind-bending “Inner Paths (to outer Space)” is, the song’s overshadowed by its three counterparts. While the aforementioned “Awakening From the Dream…(Mirror of the Soul)” towers above the pack.
Blood Incantation‘s long-awaited sophomore album is a subtle and mature evolution of the groundwork laid on Starspawn, finding the band increasingly comfortable pushing the vast boundaries of their established sound with intelligence and innovation, propelling Blood Incantation extremely close to creating a groundbreaking genre masterpiece. So embrace the mind-altering essence of Blood Incantation‘s wildly inventive brand of progressive old school death and go against Public Enemy‘s advice on this one.