Friday, November 9, 2012
Interview With Death Metal Legends, INCANTATION!
Country of origin: United States
Location: Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Status: Active (Active since 1989)
Genre: Death Metal
Lyrical themes: Satanism, Occultism, Anti-Christianity, Blasphemy
Current label: Listenable Records
John McEntee: Guitars (lead) (1989-present), Vocals (2004-present)
See also: Funerus, ex-Goreaphobia, ex-Mortician, ex-Immolation (live), ex-Revenant
Kyle Severn: Drums (1994-1998, 2000-2007, 2009-present)
See also: Acheron, Wolfen Society, ex-Divine Eve, ex-Funerus, ex-Vital Remains (live), ex-Escalation Anger
Alex Bouks: Guitars (2007-present)
See also: Goreaphobia, Master (live), ex-Funebrarum
Chuck Sherwood: Bass (2008-present)
See also: Blood Storm
1. I like the fact that your album sets a certain balance between two extremes. On one side, you have a devastating assault of death metal, while on the other side, you've got a much slower, foreboding sense of dread. Was this the idea for the album? How is "Vanquish In Vengeance" different from your other releases?
John - On all are albums we like to have a good balance between doom and aggression and sometimes they intertwine. I just think on this release we were able to push things to A even more extreme limit. I think with the addition of Alex and Chuck in the band helped make the vibe on the album even more three-dimensional than in the past. We were able to get a really good vibe on this recording. It has to do with the fact that all of us worked together as a team and we all get along and have the same vision musically.
2. Explain the recording process for "Vanquish In Vengeance." What was it like, how long did it take, and what was the most difficult part of that process?
John – I think what makes this album extra special is the fact that we recorded all the basic tracks live in the studio in the same room almost like a band practice or live show there wasn't a lot of isolation. We purposely wanted to capture a live vibe of the band on this recording, and not have to be sterile, like so many other bands do these days. But probably the hardest thing was not having as much control over the production of the album as we usually do. It's not that we don't like to production or anything we all think it's great. But usually on our albums we are there every step of the way, this time we handed over production duties to Dan Swano. He did an amazing job, and he worked really hard to get the sound we were looking for. We couldn't be happier with the way it came out, but it was definitely a big change of pace for us to do things this way.
3. What does the album title "Vanquish In Vengeance" mean to the band? What messages are you trying to get out with this record?
John - for us to most important thing is to do the best album we possibly can. The lineup has been stable for quite some time and the vibe is just amazing. So we are happy that we were able to capture that on the recording. We made an album that we are extremely proud of. We don't know or care what other people think. Music for us as a personal expression, and we're all proud of what we have done. We hope that other people can get something out of it as well.
4. Explain the concepts for "Invoked Infinity", "Haruspex" and "Legion Of Dis." The latter most track (Legion Of Dis) actually features somewhat of a drone atmosphere that is much different from anything I've heard in the extreme genre as of late. It almost sounds like a ritual of some sort. What is meant by this ritual, and is it something that you truly believe in, or something that you guys did as a tribute to occult/horror?
Chuck - Invoked Infinity is the ritual combination of 3 formulas/systems of magic. A personal interpretation of it's results when evoked entities/elementals of these pantheons are brought within.... Haruspex is an individuals account of being prepared and used for the divination of entrails. Which is the very definition of the title. Legion of Dis is an esoteric approach to the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius which destroyed Pompeii, Herculaneum etc. Figuratively a return of Dis Pater. Where the Ludi Saeculares (A once in a century ritual sacrifice to keep Dis Pater appeased) holds no sway and his wrath is brought by a legion in the form of a pyroclastic wave. Closing the song is an incantation pertinent to the song and album created with the reverence I hold for the occult, pagan mysteries and their practice.
5. What books and or films make up the lyrical nature of your band? Are there any songs inspired by life experiences?
Chuck - Books? Occult and occult science, myths and ancient belief systems, metaphysics, documentaries, dreams and results through workings. Personal interests are in horror films (more like an addiction) but never surface as a source of lyrical inspiration. Life experiences for inspiration? No.
6. What is your take on the occult? Obviously there is a lot more of the occult that goes into the media these days, (pop star Rhianna with Egyptian tattoos like the eye of Horus all over her body, this has even been transferred to children's dolls, not to mention the new teen witchcraft film in 2013 called Beautiful Creatures) which I find strangely peculiar being that I've studied it for many years now. Do you think that people have lost touch of this knowledge altogether?
Chuck- I treat the occult as serious as one would who follows it. Which is always subject to interpretation but they are my own. It's reverberation through pop culture is something I happily can say I'm purposefully oblivious to. I don't even know of the person or things you mentioned. The details of their lives (or deaths for that matter) are irrelevant.
I'd comment that "people haven't lost touch" for those of serious interest. That, I don't think will ever change. It's just been made more appealing from the more popular atheist approach of the now, most don't understand it or see it as fun, comical and trendy.
7. What is your take on modern religion, like Christianity for example? What is it about the faith that you find so revolting? I've also heard that in the past you were into some controversial subject matter known as Neo-Nazism, but have put all of that behind you. Could you talk a little about that, and why you decided to no longer believe in that sort of idealism?
Chuck - Christianity to me has been a knock off of judaism with a system of ethics to overcome peoples fear of death and to justify their inconsistencies with blind devotion. Which its predecessors and followers do to this day. Utter contempt for them makes for great lyrical content. With the popularity of Muslim ideology that makes a more recent impact in the form of atrocities, genocide etc. Has become a great source of inspiration on Vanquish in Vengeance.
I'll only answer this because of the hyper sensitivity in our society towards opinions of race and politics. Also, because ignoring this would only create more questions. I believe I can speak for all when I say politics has no place in Incantation. Anyone who is looking for reasons to continue this ridiculous topic thrive on drama and I personally will not be a part of it.
8. Let's talk tech. What instruments are you guys currently using, and what made you want to pick them up? What bands are the bread and butter that inspired Incantation?
Chuck- I play a Ric 4003 cause it's been my dream bass since childhood. With representation such as Lemmy, Geddy Lee and Cliff Burton. I think it's signature sound and craftsmanship has a legacy I draw from for my own goals.
Alex - I am using Marshall heads and Vaders cabinets with Jackson and Charvel guitars.The reason i sue these instruments and equipment is simple. I only use the best which suites me. As far as influences, I would say all there early stuff like Sabbath, Maiden, Priest!
John - I use BC rich Guitars, Dunlop Picks, Line 6, Peavey and Mesa Boogie Amps and Vader Cabinets. I use them because they seem to work good with the sound we I am looking for. my influences is everything from Black Sabbath, Deep purple, to possessed, Venom and Pentagram (Chile).
Kyle- I pound on goat skins with hands filled with wooden sticks, which i also use to smash metal cymbals and kick those goat skins with AXIS pedals!!!
9. What current bands in the metal genre (if any) are you guys currently into? Or in any genre of music?
John – I really enjoyed listening to a lot of the old-school death metal bands. Especially bands like immolation, asphyx, master, autopsy, Acheron, unleashed, grave stuff like that. There are also a lot of newer good bands out there as well but most of the ones I like our influence by some of the classics. Besides that I enjoy listening to classic hard rock bands from the 70s and 80s, like Black Sabbath, UFO, deep purple, rainbow, Dio, iron maiden. And then some of the metal bands I grew up with like mercyful fate, exciter, venom and Hellhammer.
10. Tell me about the road. What are the best and worst things about touring? Who have you met? What are some odd or downright laughable experiences that you guys have had?
John – being on the road can be truly awesome or really suck depending on the situation. With this lineup for the most part the touring has been really great. We get along well and respect each other space. Some of the best things are getting to play shows for people all over the world and and see new places and hanging out with our friends. Probably the most difficult thing is being away from home and dealing with real life issues from the long-distance.
The list of people we met on a road is endless just recently I've had the honor of meeting Wagner antichrist. That is one of the greatest fan boy moments I've had in quite a long time. Also getting to meet Chris Moyen in person was a phenomenal experience. And of course a great honor.
Some of the more recent funny moments on the road was teasing Alex about his lemons. For some reason he brought a lot of lemons with him on our last European tour. I will have to remind him next time to leave the lemons at home because he can have as many as he wants when he gets back from tour.
11. Imagine you can see what the world would look like in ten, maybe twenty years down the road. What do you see?
John - unfortunately I see lots of death, destruction and more wars. It seems like religious fundamentalists around the world are just getting more extreme and violent. It would be great if I was able to have a rosy view of the future but unfortunately it looks like things are going to get worse before they get better. If they ever do.1
12. Lastly, do you guys think there's anyway that we humans will be able to fix the mess we've created on this planet, or are we all just fucked to have to deal with the consequences of our actions?
John- I think we just have to live with the consequences. I think we need to stick to one game plan and live with it but it seems like we keep changing are minds on our agendas and showing the world mixed messages. I realize people need to change tactics in changing situations. But I think the world sees instability in what we do as a country. I'm just a musician and i don't have the answers, but it just seems like from an average person like myself that we are just going in the wrong direction, but I don't know what the right direction is, maybe there is one.
Thanks for your answers gentlemen, and for an interesting death metal release such as "Vanquish In Vengeance." Hope to hear more from you soon!
John – thank you very much for the interview it was awesome. We hope people enjoy vanquished in vengeance. We really spilled our guts out on this release. we hope to see all our supporters out on the road sometime in 2013. If you like incantation please check out my other band Funerus. We released our second album reduced to sludge last November. Thanks for the support.
Incantation - Vanquish In Vengeance (PR2012) - There's really not much I can say in the way of recommending this to fans of people other than those who like brutal and brooding death metal, so I won't even try to. The band puts on a furious display of bravado throughout most of the disc, with drums on constant blast, foreboding melodies and the vocal gravel that you'd expect. While it's fast and unrelenting in some portions, it also encapsulates the greatness of bands like Father Befouled, as a sense of dread lurks throughout the recording. "Transcend Into Absolute Dissolution 6:51" is one of these such songs that completely strips the ferocity of the band, making it sound like the sort of music one might hear in some dank fortress of the damned. "Profound Loathing 8:13" also continues this trend, but adds some melodies which are well warranted. The band really tried to make both a death metal disc with all sorts of little guitar tweaks, as well as brooding death album with the same types of guitar tweaks. The disc is almost and hour long, and between the two extremes, you'll hear the same amount of brutal death metal as you will hear "brooding death metal." Which really should be a sub-genre of death metal, since brooding and brutal as essentially different sides of the same coin. Getting back to the album, I'll definitely need to mention the closer, "Legion Of Dis 11:34" in which some interesting takes are brought into the brooding death metal sense of the track. At about the five minute mark, we're hearing very little riffs, some definite amp fizz, (which helps to carry the atmosphere somehow? It's almost like a death-drone) which might be tough to get into, especially for people who don't like drone - but at least they're fucking trying to innovate. Later on in the track, you'll hear some chanting and what not as the drums do a little tribal number to keep atmosphere, and who the fuck knows what was being summoned. But more or less, probably nothing.
At first listen, I was going to give this disc a low score. But as I went back through it and gave these tracks some time to congeal, I noticed that the band really worked hard to create two extremes on one disc and has succeeded in doing so. I might even recommend this one more than the new Father Befouled disc, as it contains more than just a sense of dread and follows along with battering storms of carnage. The production quality on the album is good, but I don't particularly care for the album art. The colors are right, but I think it would be better if there was a scene of a dank crypt where living skeletons threaten to break free from their shackles. In the center would be warlord with blood-splattered armor and he'd be sitting on a throne, staring at you from the cover. Not only that, there would also be a large mace at his feet. Maybe even the decapitated head of a young wizard on the floor, separated just a few feet from his body. In the warlord's hand, would be an ancient grimiore of some sort, and it would be engraved with some sort of long dead, archaic language. That's what the cover should have looked like, because that's what listening to this album made me think of while listening to it. It's essentially putting you in the position of one of those reanimated skeletons, still struggling to break free of their imprisonment, damned to their fate by an arcane spell. Or one could say... Incantation.
Highlights: Invoked Infinity, Haruspex, Profound Loathing, Legion of Dis (10 Tracks, 53:00)