INCANTATION: Onward To Golgotha
Release year: 1992
Label: Relapse Records
In the days before convention set in and artists started looking too much to the icons of their own scenes for inspiration, there was a beautiful amount of diversity in death metal from any corner of the globe. Incantation certainly fit that bill of non-conformist death metallers with their debut album from 1992. This definitely doesn’t sound like your average US death metal band of the time.
Incantation were no newcomers to death metal when they formed in 1989; two founding members, John McEntee, today the sole remaining founding member, and Paul Ledney, who would go on to entirely new levels of controversy with Profanatica and Havohej, had previously played together in Revenant, who released a bunch of demos and quite passable album, Prophecies Of A Dying World, before splitting up. So it should come as no surprise that by the time Incantation, who’d already lost Ledney at this time, went into the studio to record their debut album, they had a solid and original concept on their hands.
In my review of the recently re-released (and, at the time, scrapped) follow-up to this album, Upon The Throne Of Apocalypse, I described Incantations’ sound as low-end heavy, murky and cavernous. These elements were already in place on Onward To Golgotha. However, stylewise, the debut album is less focused. There’s a lot more blasting and speeding around, and conversely the soul-crushingly heavy, doom-laded slow sections play a smaller role. Ultimately, whilst Onward To Golgotha is an impressive debut album, it does mean that the material to be found both on Upon The Throne Of Apocalypse and Mortal Throne Of Nazarene is superior.
Other landmarks of the classic early Incantation sound are in place as well: Craig Pillard’s unbelievably low vocals, the staunch anti-christian message and the tight playing, although the maelstrom nature of many of the songs sometimes makes it far too easy to ignore the importance of the latter.
Onward To Golgotha is a fine way to open the game. It speaks volumes of just how strong Incantation were that they would take pretty much everything to the next level for their second release – and it’s abortive first attempt.
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