Dick’s Picks: Blood Incantation’s celestial death metal masterpiece, Starspawn

Death metal is a genre that often goes from the sublime to the ridiculous. As for every Death, Pestilence, and Morbid Angel, there are countless bands that become parodies of themselves, which forces people to take the genre less seriously. Then along comes a band like Blood Incantation who, seemingly out of nowhere, become the measuring stick for how death metal should be judged going forward.

Their debut full-length, Starspawn, is one of the best death metal records to be released in the past five – if not ten – years. Mastermind Paul Reidl comes on like a modern-day Chuck Schuldiner, weaving intricate melody and lead guitar lines through walls of frantic, mechanical riffing. Coupled with his guttural, low register vocal, complete with effects to give even more depth and texture, the Colorado band manage to create a truly special album.

Focusing on more than just sheer brutality, which Starspawn still holds in abundance, Blood Incantation are almost progressive in their delivery, taking a few cues from Cynic, Domination-era Morbid Angel, and Atheist. Morris Kolontyrsky appears unhuman, firing off passages that could rival even the most anally retentive guitar virtuoso, while the air-tight rhythm section Jeff Barrett and Isaac Faulk hold the backbone of the band together.

Lyrically, Blood Incantation choose to swerve death metal tropes such as dismemberment, sex, violence and Satanism. A live show in London, Reidl declared to the crowd before almost every song, “this is a song about space and how all life is meaningless.” There is more to think about with this band than meets the eye, and weave celestial stories that would not be out of place on Hawkwind record.

Now, all there is to do is wait patiently until Blood Incantation return with something new, but in the meantime, Starspawn provides more than enough depth to keep you occupied.

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