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Album review: Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race

There’s hype and then there’s hype. A lot of modern artists have hype processed for them before they’ve even released a note, but others gain it from the quality of their output. Denver’s Blood Incantation had already made a name for themselves with a handful of demos, an EP, and solid live work before they released their debut album, ‘Starspawn’, in 2016, but the music contained on there pushed them right to the top of the underground food chain almost immediately. It’s still considered by many as one of the best modern death metal albums with it’s sprawling take on the classic form, packed with progressive and otherworldly twists and turns. But the pressure was on for the follow-up – could they do it again, and how?

‘Hidden History of the Human Race’ does it all, and oh-so much more. The band have taken their trademark style and forged ahead without making massive changes yet upping each of the elements that have made them what they are. The artwork, a classic piece by 70s sci-fi phenom Bruce Pennington, already tells the listener they are in for a treat with its pulpy yet wonderfully detailed lines and colours. As with the debut, there’s no ambient intro or messing around – the death metal fury hits you from the word go with album-opener Slave Species Of The Gods.  Superb growls, heavy riffs and pounding double-bass weave into spacey Pink Floyd territory as you go further down the rabbit hole and taste the cosmic darkness that is Blood Incantation.

The Giza Power Plant continues the astral expedition with even more atmosphere and Middle Eastern melodies infused into the brutal cacophony and added intricate and melodic ebbs and flows, but with all the fluid extreme metal that they can muster. This leads us to Inner Paths (To Outer Space), which is mostly instrumental with gallons of celestial dressing to create the perfect psychedelic backdrop for the fourth and final piece of music on here, the epically and accurately named Awakening From The Dream Of Existence To The Multidimensional Nature Of Our Reality (Mirror Of The Soul). There have been death metal bands that have released long, complex pieces in the past (Edge Of Sanity’s ‘Crimson’ immediately springs to mind), but this 18-minute opus has a personality of its own. Beyond the crazy-infectious riffage on display, this beast writhes and evolves from one aura-drenched minute to the next; an extreme display of everything that the band has been aiming for since their inception. The album ends with the listener stranded in the farthest reaches of space, dark and alone. It’s absolute headphone euphoria that keeps on giving the whole way through.  

Sure, Blood Incantation could have kept the winning formula and released another ‘Starspawn’, but that’s not their vibe. All the Morbid Angel/Nocturnus/Death/Demilich-isms that made that album what it was still form the foundation here, but the embellishments and creative nooks and crannies make for ethereal, wondrous listening. With ‘Hidden History of the Human Race’, they have worked their asses off and progressed to another level where they can move in any direction they want in the future, of which no doubt they will. For many, this will be not only their death metal album of the year, but their top choice overall simply because it’s intricate, mature, well thought-out, brilliantly played, and goddamn, it kicks ass. Run, don’t walk, and go get this immediately.

★★★★

Hidden History of the Human Race is out November 22.

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