Unholy Deification

Incantation

The bottom line is that it has a neat concept and it’s one of INCANTATION’s best albums, so check it out, and do it for the riffs.
November 25, 2023

Unholy Deification” is the thirteenth full-length album from the American death metal band, INCANTATION. It was released on August 5, 2023, on Relapse Records. This is INCANTATION’s first concept album. It tells the tale of a man who conducts several rituals to become an evil deity that is more powerful than all of Earth’s gods. As you can see by looking at the track list, the tracks are ordered with the flow of the album in mind. With each track being numbered, it is easy to listen to the story chronologically should you choose to.

INCANTATION’s trademark sound consists of USDM with a healthy dose of doom metal added into the mix and this album holds to that philosophy. My biggest complaint is that the mix sounds too dark, meaning that the songs tend to sound muffled. It’s like the lower frequencies are too dominant. I understand that the subject matter is dark, but I don’t think the detail in the treble should be squashed at all. The wailing lead guitar parts of “Offerings (The Swarm) IV” don’t have the piercing quality that they would have in a cleaner mix. Still, the aforementioned opening track has lots to offer. This is classic INCANTATION through and through. The riffs are iconic and the interwoven doom metal passages never take away from the faster intense death metal elements. Concordat (The Pact) I” has at times an old-school OBITUARY vibe that I dig. The track has some nasty riffs as well. I also love the tasteful use of reverb on the vocals near the end. That effect gives the music a cavernous and otherworldly feel. That, combined with McEntee’s deep growling vocals plays to the “forbidden knowledge” aspect of the album’s narrative.

Homunculus (Spirit Made Flesh) IX” has some impressive lead guitar arpeggios that accentuate the more doom metal-inspired parts. I wish the lead guitar parts had a little more bite to them. With this production style, they sound too low and almost get lost. It also seems to me like INCANTATION has added in more and more doom metal with each subsequent release. This track and a few others slow to a near crawl in places. The faster death metal elements always come in at the right times and pick the songs up, offering some variety and fresh air.

Megaron (Sunken Chamber) VI” has some of the best riffs on an album full of great riffs. They just keep getting better and catchier throughout the whole song. The intro also features a reversed clip of an organ being played, adding an air of spookiness to the track. Also, this is another song where the use of reverb on the vocals makes McEntee sound utterly demonic. The best use of reverb is in the background of “Altar (Unify In Carnage) V.” The slow, unholy music at the beginning paired with the hellish tortured screams and vile growls make for a great atmosphere. This track also sounds like an incantation in and of itself. This is the only track that evokes a truly nefarious mood. I think the track relies on guitar feedback just a little too much, but this is a minor complaint.

Circle (Eye Of Ascension) VII” has some seriously amazing bass guitar parts. Sherwood’s got some serious chops and those bass passages are the best parts of the song. If you thought the pace on the previous tracks was plodding, this one is nearly all doom metal. They make it work well though. This track is also the only one on the album to feature guest vocals. The unnerving evil, utter chaos, and cacophony that make up the guest vocal part is the best thing about the album. Guest vocals are provided by: Jeff Becerra, (POSSESSED), Dan Vadim Von, (MORBID ANGEL), and Henry Veggian, (ex REGURGITATION, ex REVENANT) and it is clear that they had lots of fun making evil sounds for this track.

Overall, I dig “Unholy Deification” despite the previously mentioned negative points. The album has riffs for days and evil to spare. I enjoyed listening to it in chronological order slightly more than the way the tracks were originally presented. I think it’s interesting to visualize the story as it plays out. If the production of the album was more crisp and the lead guitar was louder, I would consider “Unholy Deification” to be mandatory listening for any death metal fan. However, it also stands to reason that they were going for a more cavernous, “depths of Hell” experience regarding the production, and it comes down to preference at that point. The bottom line is that it has a neat concept and it’s one of INCANTATION’s best albums, so check it out, and do it for the riffs.

8 / 10

Excellent

Songwritting

8

Musicianship

8

Memorability

7

Production

7
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"Unholy Deification" Track-listing:

1. Offerings (The Swarm) IV

2. Concordat (The Pact) I

3. Chalice (Vessel Consanguineous) VIII

4. Homunculus (Spirit Made Flesh) IX

5. Invocation (Cthonic Merge) X

6. Megaron (Sunken Chamber) VI

7. Convulse (Words of Power) III

8. Altar (Unify in Carnage) V

9. Exile (Defy the False) II

10. Circle (Eye of Ascension) VII

 

Incantation Lineup:

John McEntee - Guitars, Vocals

Kyle Severn - Drums

Chuck Sherwood - Bass, Lyrics

Luke Shively - Guitars

 

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