Evil Incarnate – Waiting For His Return

To say that this is oldschool would be a vast understatement. Evil Incarnate is music for people who own completely threadbare Throneum and Nunslaughter shirts and about thirty different Angelcorpse patches sewed onto anything they can get their hands on, and not just limited to clothing (Angelcorpse couches/chairs/bedspreads, etc.). This is a band that’s part of that oldschool death metal scene that never really changed or went away; it just languishes in its sort of mid-level obscurity, content in its position in the underground. I guess it’s ironic, then, that that scene routinely produces some of the best metal out there today by virtue of how un-self-conscious it is. And I can imagine that, for people fully immersed in that wide range of subterranean death metal, ‘Waiting For His Return’ is exactly the sort of music that they would love and expect from such a long running band as Evil Incarnate. For those outside of it, it’s still worth a look, though not with quite the alacrity of those whose Blasphemy hoodies are still stained with blood from when the wearer got in a fight with Chris Barnes outside of BB Kings back in ’94.

Let’s work backwards and start with the production, which is a perfect replication of the mid-range and mid-’90s sound. The mix is completely dominated by the dirty, ultra-bassy guitar tone, which is so distorted as to render some of the more minimalist riffs nearly indecipherable. Drums are pushed into the background and nestled next to the vocals, with only bass drums and cymbals being very readily audible for the former, and not much at all audible for the latter, as the gruff, mid-range growls of Michael Eisenhauer occupy a similar acoustic space to the guitar, pushing them together into a single homogenous mass. The overall sound is very forceful and seething, and it fits the somewhat chaotic style of death metal that Evil Incarnate plays pretty perfectly. It’s clean enough to allow the listener to understand everything that’s going on, but not so much that the evil, anti-Christian atmosphere is compromised.

The music is structured in a strangely disjointed, linear style, a lot like Immolation minus some of that bands deeply technical passages. Maybe it’s more like Nunslaughter covering Immolation, injecting more attitude and spite to that band’s convoluted constructions. The riffs are entirely unmelodic tremolo/chug affairs that segue into each other somewhat awkwardly, with a complete refusal to construct riffs in a clean, cyclic fashion. It’s not ‘smooth’ death metal at all, with high production values and ultra-refined songwriting; it sounds like these are the best of the band’s basement tracks, with some movements that only make sense to them and just seem bizarre to everyone else. And yet that’s part of its charm; for all the strange midpaced Bolt Thrower-esque grinding that the band does, when it works, it really works (midway through ‘Temple Of Blasphemy’). The overall tempo of the music here is not very high, and it seems more intent on crafting this blasphemous, evil atmosphere than it does making anything catchy or accessible.

In fact, the band seems entirely bent on making oldschool death metal devoid of thrash bounce or memorable riffs. This gives the music a decidedly darker, more negative tone, not unlike early Suffocation, but without even that band’s more lively tremolo riffing. The overall package is very strange and oppressive; I can honestly say that ‘Waiting For His Return’ doesn’t sound like any other death metal album I’ve heard. It works in sort of a grey area as far as the different corners of death metal go, but one thing is certain: this is probably the most willfully amelodic death metal album I’ve heard recently. Even your most brutal death metal features some catchy riffs or engaging rhythms or melodic solos, but this album is like a sheer face of death metal without any footholds at all. It’s very hard to understand, and it’s most certainly a demanding listen.

For that reason, I’d say that Evil Incarnate’s newest LP is worth a try. It’s an ambitious release that really gives no quarter to the listener and attempts to fill no expectations. It is the sound of a very specific breed of death metal, and it’s that breed in its most tumultuous and uncertain state. It is not good-time, easy listening death metal; it is instead the essence of the genre and everything that defines it as the brutal, uncompromising force that it should be.

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~ by noktorn on December 18, 2007.

One Response to “Evil Incarnate – Waiting For His Return”

  1. this is a perfectly accurate review. one of the best bands in the world for this type of hellish brutallizing metal.

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