By James Barager
CALGARY — Following weeks of botched attempts to schedule an interview with Pennsylvanian death metal legends Incantation, we were at a standstill.
Somewhat coincidentally (let’s not say coincidence: it was predetermined) Incantation was performing for a packed room at the Maryland Death Festival pre-party. This was the closest we’d get to a conversation with bandleader, guitarist and vocalist John McEntee, so we seized it. Of course, we watched the project he’s anchored since 1989 play first, following performances by McEntee’s wife’s band Funerus, along with Drawn and Quartered (who play Calgary and Edmonton in August, take note)!
When they took the stage, Incantation blitzed through a set list spanning their 10-album career, only stopping to introduce three or four songs. Following their crushing, cavernous sonic bombardment, we spoke briefly to a justifiably swamped McEntee, who was unable to do an interview. He threw us a bone, mentioning how much he was looking forward to playing the Farmageddon Metal Festival line-up before scurrying away into the darkness.
2014 was an important year for these death metal mainstays. Not only did it see the release of their 10th album, Dirges of Elysium, but it also marked their 25th year. For a quarter of a century, John McEntee and his revolving door of live musician friends have been playing skull shattering death metal, providing the perfect soundtrack to overthrow the heavenly monarchy to. Some high profile musicians have taken part. Take Daniel Corchado, guitarist/vocalist of Mexico’s premier death metal entity The Chasm, who performed on fan favourite Diabolical Conquest (1998). Year’s prior, vocalist and guitarist Craig Pillard recorded second full length Mortal Throne of Nazarene (1994); he now provides unearthly howls for Disma. In an unrelated and somewhat hilarious turn of events, on again, off again drummer Kyle Severn is the subject of the Anal Cunt track “Kyle from Incantation has a Moustache.”
So where does it leave us without the words of McEntee? Let’s put it this way: Incantation helped define death metal. They are one of the few bands who’ve stuck to the same dark, murky style since their debut Onward to Golgotha (1992). Their pinch harmonics and bent, single string riffs make them highly unusual; the band’s love of Celtic Frost’s hugely influential To Mega Therion (1985) is audible to this day. Incantation is the root of bizarre, off kilter acts like Portal and Impetuous Ritual. So just listen to them already and go to the festival and see ‘em. You won’t regret it.
See Incantation during Farmageddon Open Air. They play on Saturday, June 13th with Archspire, Viathyn, Noire and more.AB, Alberta, Farmageddon Open Air Metal Fest, Incantation