Review: Blood Incantation – Timewave Zero
Blood Incantation is ready to send you to space.
There’s something to be said for a band that loves to throw curveballs and it’s becoming more and more apparent that Blood Incantation has the best bender in the game. Whether it’s opening 2016’s Starspawn with the 13-minute journey of “Vitrification of Blood (Pt. 1)” after Interdimensional Extinction’s four brief salvos, or choosing the new age x death metal mushroom marriage of “Inner Paths (to Outer Space)” as the lead single for 2019’s Hidden History of the Human Race, the Colorado quartet loves to keep listeners on their toes. What better way to do that than follow up arguably 2019’s finest death metal album with two 20-minute tracks of cosmic analog synth?
While this may come as a shock to a lot of people, even the best curveball can be tipped, and Blood Incantation was not shy about letting folks know what’s coming. Even before the release of Hidden History… the band had teased that album 3 (officially an EP, and funnily one with a run-time longer than their LPs) would be ambient. Even in less explicit terms this isn’t all that surprising a release—every prior release being heavy on atmosphere and incorporating acoustic and ambient elements (not to mention side projects such as Hoverkraft and Falcon’s Eye). On their newest release, Timewave Zero, the band sheds their progressive death skin and brings these more atmospheric elements to the forefront. It may seem a curious decision to some, but even without their usual Morbid Angel-gone-cosmic brand of riffs they still sound distinctly like Blood Incantation.
Opening track “Io” thrums with a kind of sinister intent, the sound of a planetscape with something boiling just beneath the surface, but biding its time rather than threatening a sudden release like the band’s death metal material. If you think Tangerine Dream‘s Zeit you’re in the right ballpark. Rather than build, second track “Ea,” slowly erodes. it starts with repetitious arpeggiation and by track’s end, it’s decayed until there is simply nothing, as if it were the sound of man becoming dust and spreading himself throughout the universe until its end.
While it’s very easy to imagine this as all too Spinal Tap, it is anything but. There is as much care and thought put into Timewave Zero as any of Blood Incantation’s other albums and it shows. Though it does not quite reach the same heights as those previous efforts (understandably, when said efforts were some of the best death metal albums of the ’10s), Timewave Zero sits comfortably alongside them and sounds as Blood Incantation as any of them. Though it is sure to be a divisive release (look at your Twitter feed right now) if you have any fondness for ambient, synths or bands stretching the preconceptions of what they are or should be, then Timewave Zero is a journey worth going on and a fascinating chapter in the book of death metal’s least predictable band.
4/5 Cosmic Casios ov Hell
Timewave Zero releases February 25th via Century Media. You can order a copy here.