Today in RIFF or RAFF, we’re combing the depths of one of extreme metal’s longest-running and brutal bands. I’m talking, of course, about Incantation. Our combatants have come prepared with their favorite riff from this venerable death metal crew. You must choose the best riff.

LAST WEEK we explored the fertile shores of Greece in search of legendary riffage. Lacertillian’s choice of Primeval Mass was a double-speed onslaught that overwhelmed Boss the Ross’s trad-metal Gauntlet selection. For his victory, The Lizard wins a Bandcamp album.


I’ve been listening to a shit ton of Mercyful Fate lately, so NEXT WEEK we’re looking for the very best King Diamond/Mercyful Fate riff! If you wanna curry favor from the Danish metalgod, here’s what you gotta do:

-Write 100-500 words about why you your riff rules

-Include a link to stream your selection, the timestamp for your riff, and your screen name

-Email me at toiletovhell@gmail.com

THIS WEEK is all about one of the hardest and most complex bands in all of death metal. Since inception in 1989, Incantation has a had a revolving cast of roughly six thousand band members. Aside from predictably heavy riffage, John McEntee has been the sole constant in the band. (Though Kyle, he of mustache-having fame, has been a fairly consistent member in the near-30 years of Incantation’s existence) Today, we’re coming together to pick our favorite Incantation riff and then fight about it relentlessly. Let’s get it on!

(Riff at 1:32) Incantation has always stood apart from the other classic death metal bands with “ation” in their name because of their willingness to set aside beating the E-string as quickly as possible, instead embracing dirge-paced, sludgy, and soul-devastatingly heavy riffage. However, for this week’s competition, I’m instead spotlighting just how awesome it can be when John McEntee and his co-conspirators decide to step up the tempo. The shift is especially powerful in this song off sophomore release Mortal Throne of Nazarene, as we go from trudging along at a doomy pace, accompanied by Craig Pillard’s brutal vocals, into an absolutely ripping fast death metal section with drummer Jim Roe pounding away 32nd notes. For all the riff’s viciousness, especially as McEntee shifts into a tremolo-picked variation, it’s also quite catchy. This is what separates the very best death metal composition: carefully crafted hooks that never sacrifice an iota of aggression. Plus, like all Incantation’s greatest work at any speed, it sounds gloriously evil and revoltingly filthy. –Jason Kolkey

I wish I had been listening to The Infernal Storm when it dropped in 2000 instead of whatever weak poser bullshit I was feeding my ear holes at the time. Featuring the muted growls of vocalist Mike Saez and the damp, clicky drums of David Culross allow the diabolical riffage to stand out even further on “Sempiturnal Pandemonium”. The song shifts back and forth from a doom pace, to a blast beat-stricken furor. A breakdown serves to drive the track over the line from “kinda cool” to “TOTALLY SIQQQ”. With a triumphant pinch harmonic, the riff that breaks through at 2:49 is a grand declaration of mosh warfare. I choose you, Pikachu. –Joe Thrashnkill

Now you gotta choose.

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