Genre: Death Metal | Label: Independent
Location: Johnstown, PA | Listen: N/A
Another day, another Incantation review. This time we’re going to talk about the “XXV” compilation, which was released in 2016 to celebrate the 25+ year existence of the band. Released exclusively on vinyl by the band themselves, this is very much a “for the fans” kind of release. In other words, if you’re not familiar with Incantation, this isn’t exactly the best way to become acquainted with them. For fans like me who can’t resist adding another Incantation release to the collection, “XXV” offers a new twist on some old classics, and is overall fairly enjoyable.
The first side of this LP contains four studio recordings. Of those, one is a brand new song, “Obelisk Reflection.” This song definitely sounds like more modern Incantation, but Incantation nonetheless. They wrote this one with Sonny Lombardozzi during the “Dirges of Elysium” sessions he was involved in, and he throws his stamp on it with some brief shredding. There’s some pretty finger twisting riffs with lots of trem picking, and to no surprised, they are balanced out with some hard hitting doom sections. The other three tracks are re-recordings of some old songs. “Nefarious Warriors” has only ever appeared as a live studio recording on the “Tribute to the Goat” CD, and it’s studio version really brings new life to it. It’s got a real gloomy section that sounds much more powerful than the older version. The other two songs are classic Incantation tunes, given a bit of a facelift with Incantation’s modern line-up and production values. McEntee’s vocals actually sound pretty demonic, and he does a commendable job impersonating Craig Pillard’s ungodly low growls.
I’m not sure why the band has opted for Dan Swano instead of recording at Mars Studio with Bill Korecky in recent years, as I much prefer the sound of their late 90’s and 2000’s production. If you’re familiar with their albums over the last decade, this sounds just like it, with everything being extremely loud and clear, almost too clinically. The heaviness of the songs can’t be denied though, so even these classic tracks can still stand with the more modern production.
On the flipside of this record are four live songs, and they feature Alex Bouks on lead guitar (who was replaced by Sonny Lombardozzi). These are some of the best sounding live tracks Incantation has put out, and they stand up well to the A side of the record, so kudos to Swano for that. The band pays tribute to their years in Cleveland by including a version of “Impending Diabolical Conquest” recorded there, and they rip through it with flawless precision. Chuck Sherwood adds in his own stamp on some of the bass lines in the middle of the song which weren’t present on the original recording. The other three tracks were recorded in France, and much like the rest of this compilation, span across their entire career. “Anoint the Chosen,” despite being from one of Incantation’s less revered albums, makes a welcome appearance, as Kyle Severn’s drum performance gives it even more velocity than the album version. Out of the France tracks, “Iconoclasm of Catholicism” is the highlight, as Severn once again adds more intensity to an already massive song.
“XXV” is not a must have release, but for fans like me who feel the impulse to hunt down every Incantation release, it’s a cool compilation to have. While I do prefer the production values of the band before they switched over to Dan Swano, it’s not significantly detrimental. They managed to cover ground from the first three (and most essential albums), as well as include some other worthwhile tracks in addition to an exclusive new track. It’s not my first choice when I’m wanting to listen to Incantation, but if I’m binging on them, this one still hits the spot.