Incantation are one of the most productive bands in death metal. Sect Of Vile Divinities marks their twelfth full-length album over a four-decade period. Not only have they consistently released albums, they’ve remained consistent to their sound. Even though Sect Of Vile Divinities is fundamentally the same band, they’ve progressed. No longer creating the murky productions of their early material, Dan Swanö has provided a cleaner mix over the last few albums.
Stylistically, Incantation were never really classified as a death/doom band. They are death metal, through and through, but their sound has always been mired in downward tempos. A greater use of melodies, albeit dark melodies, seem to differentiate newer material from earlier efforts when it comes to their doom metal parts. The beginning of “Propitiation” sounds like a variation of a funeral march. “Black Fathom’s Flame” features a lumbering, ancient rhythm near the middle of the track that goes through to the end of the song. “Ignis Fatuus” is another song encased in doom.
While there are many places with slow sections, the group layers ringing chords with Kyle Severn’s kick drums and Sonny Lombardozzi’s darkly melodious guitar leads. Besides adding another dimension, these sounds keep the music moving. Doom is in abundance, but the band do a great job of changing up their tempos. “Entrails of the Hag Queen” and “Chant of the Formless Dead” are good examples of speed shifted downwards.
Incantation have always been a harsh band in terms of vocals. The group went through a revolving door of vocalists in the beginning. For the last 16 years, guitarist and band founder John McEntee has assumed mic duties. Here he keeps the tradition of guts-spewing vociferations. While he’s guttural, it’s not too hard to make out much of what he’s singing. Lyrically, the band pays homage to ancient divinities, hence the title. The artwork by Eliran Kantor represents well the lyrics. The last part of “Chant For the Formless Dead” is a vocal highlight of the album, an unholy choir putrid gutturals combined with shadowy shrieks.
Sect Of Vile Divinities is one of those albums that delivers what the title and album cover suggests. Fans of the band won’t be disappointed. This is an album worthy of the Incantation brand. Sure, it’s cleaner than their early days, but it has been that way for a few albums. The band offers more layers, too. Sect Of Vile Divinities is an evil death metal album executed Incantation style. Try not to suffocate on their darkness!
(released August 21, 2020 on Relapse Records)
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Watch Incantation – “Entrails Of The Hag Queen” Video