Album Reviews

Spawn of Possession – Incurso

  • Review by: Ankit Baraskar

Technical death metal has it’s detractors, and not without reason. Bands like Brain Drill and Viraemia pollute the genre with their disgusting brand of 180 bpm plus garbage, whereas giants like Gorguts and Demilich lie dormant and refuse to release another Obscura or Nespithe. In these circumstances, I stumbled upon Spawn of Possession’s Noctambulant, which re-defined not only metal, but music as I knew it. You know that when metal songwriters cite influences like Bach, Weiss and Shostakovich, they’re either very good or very bad. Bryssling, guitarist and songwriter for the band since it’s ‘inception’, falls in the former category.

‘Incurso’ is one of the most intense and cerebral metal albums I’ve heard so far, including it’s predecessor and Amogh Symphony’s Quantum Hack Code. It’s an album that actually needs energy and concentration to listen to and appreciate. It’s not just the songwriting that is intricate, but even the instrumentation and the production enliven the compositions with their delightful dynamics and fine tuning. Jonas Bryssling plays the rhythm parts with his trademark precision and ease, and Muenzner complements him well, and throws in some of his finest shred in the mix. Erlend Caspersen is a force to be reckoned with on that five string, as his fretless marvels will leave you astounded. Schönström is precise and effective behind the kit, and even though he provides a fine percussive backdrop for the whirlwind of notes, one cannot help but wish Rondum had taken his place behind the kit rather than behind the mic. Not that he does not nail the low,dry growls in his demonic, staccato-ish accented rhythmic delivery.

‘Abodement’ is an instrumental intro, Incurso’s equivalent of Noctambulant’s Inception, and follows with the two songs that were floating around for some time before the release – Where Angels Go Demons Follow and Bodiless Sleeper. One can feel the songs building up in intensity, and ‘The Evangelist’ begins, a near-10 minute behemoth of sound, filled with a diverse array of convoluted riff structures and hooks. The very Gorguts-esque outro is brilliantly executed, though the Noctambulant fan in me would want something more Bryssling-y, like Sour Flow. The relentless pace is resumed on the tracks that follow, and the bass really makes it’s presence felt with some great licks and grooves. ‘Deus Avertat’ and ‘Spiritual Deception'(and most of the rest of the album) have rhythmic work which would probably make even Haake scratch his head for a bit (Ironic, considering how the Meshuggah tracks released so far and reviews make the new album sound a lot less ballsy and intense compared to the previous releases). ‘No Light Spared’ seems like another approach to a massive climax, and massive it is.

‘Apparition’, the album closer, deserves an entire paragraph to itself. Clocking eight minutes and twenty four seconds of sheer aural bliss, this track is a monster. Organs and strings condense the sound to an initial state, when the guitars, bass and drums kick in and build an edifice out of it. Layered vocals, tempo changes that take more than a few listens to properly sink in, playful counterpoints, and some slick atonal parts…this song has it all. Listening to it end on those high notes, the album art seems to be an accurate description of the album – grand, towering, dark, detailed and yet a little childlike in it’s almost fable-like qualities(giant fish trying to eat a house?). The lyrics, from what one can make out, aren’t in the same league as the music, which ideally shouldn’t stop a sane person from picking up the album given it’s other obviously overpowering merits. The one major complaint with this album would be consistency – where Noctambulant is an album where every song is liable to get stuck in your head almost immediately, the shorter songs on Incurso take a lot more time to warm up to, though the other songs are intense and catchy enough to average out the effect.

Nine days and nearly seventy listens later, Incurso continues to be as appealing and fresh as it was when I first heard it. It is hard to imagine that a person who has ‘a day job and a daughter to take care of’ (to quote his interview) can find the time to write such intricate and brutal music. Spawn of Possession have again set the bar at a near unattainable level for metal musicians. Final rating – 9.9/10.