The proximity and motion of cosmic forces can be sensed in the works of human artists. The lesser brain functions of a slave species picking up wayward traces of unfathomable happenings taking place behind our dimensional curtain. But with a bold mission statement like, Hidden History Of The Human Race as an album title, Blood Incantation have dared to expose the truth that has been shrouded in secrecy for so long, translating the chthonic gibberish ramblings of astral broadcasts into the more familiar dialect of death fucking metal.
Starspawn left in its wake a population of rabid, newborn fanatics and a formidable standard for any sophomore record to supercede, but evidently no match for the earth shattering power of Hidden History Of The Human Race.
As the name would suggest, Hidden History Of The Human Race encompasses an odyssey that unfolds on multiple fronts. Narratively and musically, Blood Incantation violently jerk the listener back and forth between past and future, primitive and cruelly labyrinthine in seamless succession.
Every attribute that composes the Blood Incantation sound has been dialled up in its extremity in order to capture the magnitude of their message. The speed of drummer, Isaac Faulk’s feet and dextrous flourishes along the kit have become noticeably augmented with an added lunacy, suggestive of physical mutation initiated by consumption of alien knowledge.
Playing the middleman between Faulk’s tectonic performance and the transdimensional projections of Paul Reidl and Morris Kolontyrsky’s guitar work, bassist Jeff Barret’s playing seamlessly balances the thunderous impact of the rhythm section, while somehow also complementing the Demilich-ian discordance of the guitars. The result is a band acting on multiple levels simultaneously. Even when reaching for the heights of technical prowess in order to sonically describe the visages of four dimensional God beings in ”Awakening from the Dream of Existence to the Multidimensional Nature of Our Reality (Mirror of the Soul)”, there remains a deceptively brutish foundation beneath the chaos. Likewise, even as “Slave Species Of The Gods” hammers the listener with stone age weaponry, an aerial network of bizarre chord progressions can be heard just out of reach.
In this way, Blood Incantation’s music becomes overarching in its appeal, never dedicating themselves completely to a particular sub-genre faction, but encompassing them in opportune moments to create such a varied tapestry that this story requires. Because underlying the slobber-inducing moments of Gorguts and Morbid Angel worship, there remains a stalwart narrative heart at its center.
Even within an individual track like, “The Giza Power Plant”, there is constructed a journey traversing mood, tempo, and whole genres. What begins as a bizarre shock of discordant guitar and airy drum patterns embodying a generator coming back to life, quickly builds to a crescendo of unbridled magnitude, leading to a cataclysm that breaks into a long sigh across middle eastern deserts. Mirage-like notes resurrect long lost empires amid the Egyptian sand wastes, while intimidating chords of doom-laden melody wordlessly infer the magnitude of unearthed mysteries coming to the fore.
The final chapter in this whole forbidden production, “Awakening from the Dream of Existence to the Multidimensional Nature of Our Reality (Mirror of the Soul)” is several songs in one, a compact opus spanning nearly 20 minutes. But in breaking the whole down into written description, one almost certainly will find themselves reduced to overlong rambling and doing the song a disservice. To put it simply: following its predecessors this grand finale feels like an ultimate destination, reflecting all the traits of what has come before it, but merged into a megastructure of bizarre architecture that supersedes them in sheer scale.
Ethos has been vital, if not definitive, to Blood Incantation from the start in every way. Specifically that of ancient aliens, eastern mythology and conspiracy, to scratch the surface. Not only has it helped the band stand out by having such magnetic and culturally embedded keystones behind in their concept, but it seems to have given them an anchor of sorts to latch onto in songwriting. Blood Incantation take hold of these thematic reigns more than ever before to deliver an awe inspiring journey through time and space in Hidden History Of The Human Race.
Even before its long awaited release, it appeared that many fans were content with placing Hidden History Of The Human Race on their album of the year lists. That confidence looks to have paid off in a big way, as this is not only a serious AOTY candidate, but is likely to go down in the annals of death metal classics years down the road.
This massive beast is available from DARK DESCENT RECORDS for North America and CENTURY MEDIA for the rest of this doomed planet. All formats are available … support or die!
Modern death metal has gone through yet another resurgence of heightened invigoration in the last few years, with a particular concentration of perpetuating and reimagining ‘old school’ elements, and to magnificent effect. When death metal fans look back on these years, the likes of Necrot, Superstition, and Blood Incantation will likely ring true, but as this tempest of content rages, there are those bands who dirge in the abyssal regions of taste and experimentation, and who shunt away the spotlight in pursuit of the depths that creation can reach.
One year following the release of their debut full length, Permanent Destitution, Seattle sound violators, Hissing remain one of the most subversive and flat out difficult acts in modern death metal. Emulating the anxiety – inducing nature of a Pollock painting, smearing and splattering with raw waste in place of paint, it isn’t all that surprising that the band haven’t been as concentrated on by the masses as their label and genre counterparts have been.
And that is entirely the point.
To be honest, the music was consciously written to be as unpleasant as possible. – Z, Hissing bassist/vocalist
“It’s actively antisocial. Our guiding impulse was climax denial, I suppose. If something ever felt too satisfying or resolved too well, we would go back and “fuck it up”. We would add or remove measures or beats to make things more frustrating, but if it felt too “prog”, we would add something stupid and sloppy after to deny it a “technical” label. We wrote parts that were immensely difficult to play and we had parts that were frustratingly dumb and repetitive.”
Upon first listening to Hissing, Permanent Destitution in particular, the listener is placed in a position of abject discomfort. Nothing feels right. Constant shifts in tempo and chord progressions pull at them from every direction like a wanting crowd, while all the while they struggle to maintain their footing on a ground coated in filthy production. But given Z’s comments, the murk becomes a concentrated ray of intention and inverse vision. Much like the Dada movement of the early 20th century, in which creatives strove to avoid the shackles of sense and structure as a mode of defiance and exercising pent up rage, Hissing have built on a foundation of punishment and cruel deprivation.
“In post-production we added in additional harsh sounds at particular frequencies if a part felt too groovy after we tracked it… I don’t even know why we did some of the things we did, they just felt right.” Z adds further. “The entire project was driven by disdain and malice towards our listeners. Extreme metal is and should always be an inherently abrasive medium.”
Running parallel with their approach to sound, Hissing’s visual and lyrical representation is a conscious step away from what is commonly associated with extreme metal. The name, Permanent Destitution, alone speaks volumes to this fact. Rather than painted visuals of horror phantasm or the systematic narration of a body’s colorful violation, Z and his bandmates aim to conjure an aura of panic and trauma via alternate arteries of inspiration.
“The word “destitution” can mean a lot of things, and it isn’t meant to mean one thing here. The album deals with various manifestations of insanity, abjection, failure, things that I think are not only integral to life but are perhaps it’s only actively defining characteristics. Starting with the macrocosm of the failure of history and narrowing scope to the microcosm of the slow disintegration of the human mind subjected to the trauma of existence. A reversed Maslow hierarchy, perhaps. Humans fail to remember history and repeat the same wars and genocides. Humans love to distract themselves with garbage pop media spoonfed to them. Humans create great mountains of garbage. Humans act on their base desires without understanding why. Humans abuse the power they’re given without consequence. And in the end, human minds degrade and lose touch with reality and it was all for nothing. The more you understand the way human civilization has organized itself the more you find just how cold and ugly it is from top to bottom and the inevitable conclusion becomes that we are, in fact, in Hell.”
In his phrasing alone, Z reflects the spirit of Hissing: one of vitriol and loathing for the human being and/or being human. It is a conflict only as old as its sole combatants, and especially in times such as ours, Hissing’s well of inspiration seems limitless.
“The miasma of the human hive in the city we live in. Rather than active human malice and cruelty, I think we’re more interested in the dull violence of tedium, the slow corrosive way that modern life saps your passion and vitality day by day and we let it happen.” Z states, immediately bringing to mind the nature of our current, social media, mass marketed, politically correct and thought policed society.
“If death metal is about horror, in my mind there’s nothing more horrifying than simply being alive. Beckett, Bernhard, and Céline are some reference points for styles of expression. One of the songs on the record was deeply inspired by my brief obsession with Andrea Dworkin’s “Intercourse” – a truly bleak take on human desire. Sometimes I take lyrical fragments from lucid dreams and misheard sentence fragments. The subconscious is powerful and sometimes reveals the things we don’t dare think in our waking lives. I firmly believe that every human around me is silently screaming in buried psychic rage and our true selves come out when we find these moments of lost control. “Sanity” is a prison we have built around ourselves to maintain what we call civilization, where a few rich sociopaths profit off of misery and genocide. I don’t think we hold any naïve hope for a better world. Our music and lyrics are simply a natural reaction to the one we have been thrust into.”
So soon after the release of Permanent Destitution, Hissing stand on the verge of yet another release that, albeit of a smaller scale, represents a considerable turn (or return?) into the realm of industrial noise in Burning Door, which drops on November 22nd, on Utech Records.
“[Burning Door is] quite different, in that it was a much more consciously anti-musical project than before.” says Z when asked for some updates on the new EP. “We had ideas and reference points for what we would do, but it was assembled slowly using several months’ worth of improvisations and experiments in sound, as well as incorporating sound fragments leftover from the recording of Permanent Destitution. In my mind it’s more of a tangent than a continuation of the narrative of Permanent Destitution. I would urge uninitiated listeners to take it in as less a musical narrative as with our record, and more a psychedelic experience. I realize how pretentious this sounds, but the point is, it’s not a structured musical statement and if you go in expecting that you’re going to be angry at us and write pedantic, whining reviews on the internet.”
It’s sad that such a disclaimer is so necessary nowadays.
While Burning Door is a deliberate departure from the full length, the industrial realm is in fact rooted deep in Hissing’s origins.
“Two of us met at a Morbid Angel show through mutual friends and discussed wanting to start a project that ideally would have some longevity and potential to explore a variety of things that we were interested in. We initially were writing sort of pained, dirgey stuff with a drum machine in the style of Godflesh but found ourselves lacking the momentum we wanted so we added a drummer and suddenly everything became faster, more chaotic…[We] have been making noise music for years, although I only recently started actually playing it live and releasing it, partially because I used to live in a small town where no one cared and now live in a city where a few people care. Noise music (in the broadest sense) has influenced and been a part of every project I’ve been involved with, even my shitty high school grindcore bands. Rock music has always bored me, I’ve learned to enjoy “classic” rock and metal bands in recent years but for the longest time I disavowed anything I found too cathartic. No pain, no gain.”
Z went on to divulge his own feelings of appreciation for the less corporeal modes of sonic artistry:
“Improvised noise music can elicit some of the most pure, exhilarating audio stimulation if done right. There’s a kinship between noise acts like Incapacitants and jazz, where you’re creating something constantly unexpected, and your brain is being forced to try to make sense of something when it is being fed only disconnected scraps of rhythm, narrative, meaning. When you have three or four different layers of this musical anti-narrative happening at the same time, the result is overwhelming and powerful, like staring off a cliff into the ocean. There’s a project called Mastery from San Francisco that I think perfectly translates this dialogue between randomness and order into black metal form. Conversely, true industrial music emphasizes the machinic through endless repetition, pounding a single rhythm into your skull until it becomes all-consuming. Instead of the otherworldly, it creates anxiety, the existential misery of reality. Swans’ “Greed” – particularly the song Bastard (Time is Money) – has been a longtime influence and example of this.
“Hissing exists somewhere in a liminal space between these two ideas, the sublime chaos of improvisation and the ugliness and misery of repetition, vacillating in and out as needed.”
Going off of the topic of Hissing’s sense of belonging, when asked where he thought of the band’s existence within the current metal scene, even over email, Z’s shrug and sigh was almost tangibly evident.
“People don’t seem to know what to do with us. Either they get it or they don’t. Some seem to think we’re “hipsters” intruding on the war metal scene or whatever. I’ve heard that we’re too “artsy”. I don’t know what to make of all this, and the older I get the less I care. There is a small contingent of similarly unorthodox black/death bands like Suffering Hour and Succumb in the States that I’ve been discovering over the years and making friends with because I imagine they get the same stupid treatment. But honestly, the bottom line is: we’re not here to recycle Obituary riffs for you and sell beer. If you don’t like it, then fuck off.”
It is at this time that Covenant Records is proud of unveil the debut demo of Espejo Del Diablo, concisely titled “Dos Oraciones”. Espejo Del Diablo is all at once familiar and unique for us as a label, blending an esoteric dark folk sound with a traditional Latin sound inspired heavily by Buena Vista Social Club, Carlos Puebla, and Victor Jara.
No less steeped in the black magic that weighs a heavy fog on the rest of the projects to emerge from the Covenant Circle, Espejo Del Diablo approaches this sorcery through a different conduit. Relying on intuition, and following an ancestral path, “Dos Oraciones” prays to the daemons that haunt our worlds, reconciles hidden tragedy, and cries out to a beleaguered people, exclaiming “ARISE!”
A society is reflected in the artistry it yields, and thereby we are sometimes able to see its face more clearly than any government or social movement could ever encapsulate. Like a mirror into the fragmented soul of mankind, the works of countless minds, each maddened to a greater or lesser degree, whisper hidden truths back to us. In this way, the obscure cult of daemoniac Spaniards, Teitanblood, have resurfaced with little warning to remind us of the species deathwish that mankind harbors for itself in The Baneful Choir.
From their inception and debut full length, Seven Chalices, which gnawed at the seals of apocalypse, Teitanblood have become sacrosanct through their awe inspiring mastery over absolute aural hell. With every subsequent work, these anonymous toilers at the edge of oblivion define further aspects of the elemental chaos. Both Seven Chalices and Death illustrated a flaying tempest storm that hung above the dredging abyss of bemoaning death/doom, manifested in Accursed Skin. But as we approach the end of yet another year along our world’s disastrous course, Teitanblood converge their past works into a lethal speartip, in what feels like a culmination piece to honor an imminent end that we have yet to be made aware of.
Upon first experiencing it in full, it is unquestionable that The Baneful Choir is the product of minds brought to the apogee of human capacity for vitriol. The cup runneth over, spilling along a narratively protean structure that simultaneously reaches further in every direction that Teitanblood have previously striven.
The incensed bellows, spastic abuse of stretched skin percussion, and foaming riffage that normally are let loose upon the first second of a Teitanblood album are, in The Baneful Choir, restrained beneath the ominous, “Rapture Below” and its immediate counterpart, “Black Vertebrae”, which draw a dagger of icy discomfort along the listener’s spine. Bone chilling strings wine out across vast leagues of polluted air, and the looming shadow of an approaching giant is silhouetted starkly against it as it appears to march exhaustively on tired feet. The sheer weight of the thing finally causes it to crumble into superheated dust, giving way to the inevitable ravaging of “Leprous Fire”.
The mounting, even sluggish beginnings of The Baneful Choir do nothing but augment the terrible shock that its inner meat afflicts upon the listener. Few songwriters are able to incite the involuntary seizures akin a possession, but Teitanblood are irrefutably born of that depraved genius.
It is only once “Ungodly Others” discharges its black seed into your head that “Leprous Fire” seems like a comparatively kind induction to The Baneful Choir’s sickening ferocity. A deceptively simple riff and drum pattern characterizes “Ungodly Others”, returning several times over with the decimating trauma of infernal artillery salvos. The listener is immediately addicted as Teitanblood stomp them into the dust, disgusted and hate – filled, but all the while unfathomably catchy in their delivery.
Perhaps better than ever, the band balance the suffocating stream of bestial black metal with that more primitive, lumbering death metal sound. And while the Slayer influence has been evident from the band’s start in their manic soloing that borders on the absurd, a more purely defined moment of Slayer worship surfaces early on in “Verdict Of The Dead”, as though the band are, for precious moments, musically reminiscing on a song like “Postmortem” before quickly abandoning any such reverie and continuing along their own path of slaughter.
While fleeting, it’s these moments of unexpected divergence (I’m looking at you, “Sleeping Throats Of Antichrist”) that have only further raised Teitanblood above the masses. Moments of what sometimes feel like homage, but in such a way that it is never anything but their own.
Blackened death metal is a style that is simultaneously one of the most intensely hard hitting sub – genres to come out of the extreme underground and one of the most incredibly difficult to properly play. But Teitanblood are among the upper echelons for a reason. Not only do they formulate one swirling bedlam after the next, but they smartly intercut these with patient treks across quietly evocative atmosphere (ie. “Insight”,“Of The Mad Men”, and “Charnel Above”) and a central mount of despair built on foundations of the deepest doom in “The Baneful Choir” itself.
The album’s namesake track is not only the longest, but manages to stand alongside its shorter lived, more abhorrent kin by offering something more. “The Baneful Choir” harbors a different shade of darkness than any other song, trading barbarous violence for a sweeping air of absolute sorrow. The guitars drone like that of gigantic locust wings, while the rhythm section digs fruitlessly into the ground, unable to go anywhere, unable to escape the coming end. In some ways, “The Baneful Choir” is the most apocalyptic track of them all.
While The Baneful Choir is by no means an easy listen, it is perhaps the most fully fleshed, and thereby most accessible work Teitanblood have done to date. In some ways the band have improved upon their past work, particularly in the way of their approach to the slower doom sections, enhancing those aspects that we have come to expect and praise about the band. To hear a group so immensely affecting on all fronts is both a gift and a dangerous rumination on what comes next:
When art such as this so completely encapsulates Armageddon, the true end must be close at hand.