I love death metal. Throughout my time on this Earth I have gotten into all types of death metal that I won’t even begin to list off, because they are just too numerous. But, I have always had some trouble when it came to technical death metal. Not because I don’t think it’s any good, but just because a lot of bands in the sub-genre tend to think that showing off their amazing technical prowess is a good substitute for writing coherent music. I have only found a handful of technical death metal bands that are able to incorporate both stellar musicianship with ridiculously good song-writing, and Spawn of Possession is one of them. The band has been displaying their flurry of technical wizardry for about 15 years, with nothing slowing them down yet. It has been almost six years since their release of the highly-acclaimed album “Noctambulant,” and with some line-up changes over the years, it seems that Spawn of Possession had finally been able to record their long-awaited return album, “Incurso.” After such a lengthy amount of time having gone by, I’m very interested to see if “Incurso” is able to keep up with or even improve on their technical/brutal death metal style that has taken the heavy metal world by storm.
After a short instrumental introduction in ‘Abodement,’ you are thrown into the fray of ‘Where Angels Go Demons Follow.’ It has the lull of a short melodic opening before descending into a controlled chaos of technical brutal death metal. It is exactly what one would expect to hear from Spawn of Possession; lots of sweep picking, tapping, blastbeats, rapid vocal cadences, and stellar melodic guitar solos that never seem to be wasted. With their being nine tracks and almost an hour of material, it amazes me how this band is able to keep the stamina and where-with-all throughout a lot of the music. This can only tell me that “Incurso” is going to be a technically thrilling beast.
Spawn of Possession has always been good at throwing an odd-sounding melody into their music. It is one of the defining traits of the band, and there is no shortage of it on “Incurso.” ‘Bodiless Sleeper’ has some really nice melodic passages in the middle of the song, as well as keeping it a bit ‘bouncy,’ if you will. ‘The Evangelist’ is an epic track that lasts nearly 10 minutes, and while I found it a little odd to put the longest song right in the half-way point of “Incurso,” but the continuous scaling immediately brought flashbacks to ‘Ubiquitous’ by Origin, so that immediately gets points from me. The addition of Erland Caspersen (bass; ex-Blood Red Throne) pays off big time since he makes quite an impact on “Incurso,” as his lightening-fast fingers travel up and down the fretboard, particularly on ‘Servitude of Souls’ and ‘Apparition.’ Dennis Röndum’s vocals are still here and he sounds very good on this album, although he seems to be slightly lower in the mix, but it works. Spawn of Possession are definitely at the top of their game musically, but I found that once you get later into the album things sort of begin to run together.
‘Deus Avertat,’ ‘Spiritual Deception,’ and ‘No Light Spared’ are good tracks, but they feel like more of the same, and found my attention span beginning to wander. I was getting that familiar feeling of technical prowess overtaking the importance of song-writing. Again, the band is more than technically thrilling, but it can be a bit much at times, and I know it is my fault for thinking that maybe every once in a while they would play something a little more straight-forward, especially from a band like Spawn of Possession. There are moments where that does happen, but the endless fretboard acrobatics and wacky time signatures get to be a bit tiresome. Despite these pitfalls, the final track, ‘Apparition,’ is a god damned masterpiece. To call this song epic would be a severe understatement, as it is backed up with synth keyboards throughout their onslaught of technical brutal death metal. Spawn of Possession decided to throw everything at the listener, and I am amazed at how great ‘Apparition’ came out. This may very well be the greatest ending track of an album so far in 2012, in that it gives me chills down my spine in the same way that ‘Any Kind Of Magic Or Miracle’ by Anata has throughout the years. I will just leave it at that.
The production of “Incurso” is done in the same vein as “Noctambulant,” but with a much more pronounced bass guitar, which is always a wonderful thing. Everything is very clear and crisp, making this album very nice to listen to. The only thing that I wish was higher in the mix were Henrik Schönström’s cymbals, because I can tell he is doing some great fills, but they are a little difficult to make out at times; this would really help the slower breaks in the music where Henrik tends to show off his technical chops. Christian Müenzner’s and Jonas Bryssling’s guitars sound perfect for the technical brutal death metal that Spawn of Possession is known for. As I mentioned above, their guitar solos never felt wasted or put in odd places, and really gave much needed flare to the music when it was called for.
With last two albums being what they were, I have to say that “Incurso” stands up very well next to its ancestors. Everything on “Incurso” is presented in a highly skilled and technical fashion, but with the music sometimes getting to be a bit stale at times, I would say that this album is slightly better than both “Cabinet” and “Noctambulant.” This is definitely a Spawn of Possession album, there is no doubt about it, but I think there were a couple things that could have been done to make everything sound a little fresher than it ended up being. Of course, that is just due to my personal preference, so everybody else may feel much differently about it than I do. Regardless, I really enjoyed “Incurso” as a whole, and I believe it is worth purchasing when the album comes out next week.