Review by Joe Sullivan, Photos by Joy Sullivan
Incantation has been consistently cranking out brutal, blasphemous death metal for 25 years, never slowing down, never selling out, always remaining pure and true. John McEntee and co. are a model of death metal consistency, and as an old school guy I love that about them. Their newest opus, 2014’s DIRGES OF ELYSIUM is just as heavy and evil sounding as their legendary back catalog. It’s been 19 years since I’ve seen Incantation, so I am long overdue to catch Johnstown, PA’s heaviest. I first was exposed to Incantation by the Nuclear Blast compilation DEATH IS JUST THE BEGINNING II in early 1993. I was blown away by the savagery of “Immortal Cessation” and shortly afterward got a copy of their groundbreaking debut OWNARD TO GOLGOTHA and then I was hooked! It’s fucking MDF (Maryland DeathFest) week and tonight Incantation and Funerus are playing Kung Fu Necktie in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia. Let’s go! Time to christen the afterbirth!
Kung Fu Necktie is this metal bar in Philly that hold about 200 people. You walk in and there are some booths, a long bar, and a pool table. Stage is further back and it is only about a foot off the ground. Sound quality is surprisingly good and powerful; our ears were ringing for hours afterwards. In front of the stage there is some pit area and on one side there is a long table that you can sit on if winded. The place has a cool atmosphere and a good metal vibe, good place for a show. Tonight is close to sold out.
A word on merchandise – Incantation puts all other bands to shame! They must have had 10 different shirts, some in longsleeve, a hoodie, CD’s, patches, and stickers. It was damn impressive. I got an XXL “Entrantment of Evil” short sleeve shirt that is blood red and black, awesome! I could have bought a bunch more but MDF is this week so I need to save up for that.
Funerus is fronted by Jill McEntee, (John’s wife) on vocals and bass, John himself on guitar, Barry Mull on guitar, and Frank Schilperoort (from Altar) on drums. They are promoting their new 7inch EP, THE BLACK DEATH. Funerus took the stage about 9:15 and proceeded to churn out sludgy death metal with frantic tempo changes. Jill’s vocals were feral and deep, a huge contrast to her polite speaking voice in between songs. John and Barry cranked out heavy, bludgeoning riffs. Frank was brilliant on the drums, precise fills, thunderous blast beats, I was pretty amazed. It sounded like he was going back home to the Netherlands after the tour since Frank was a fill-in for Pat Carroll. Crowd responded well with howls and headbanging. Set was great, my faves included “The Black Death”, “Leatherface” and “Festering Earth”. If you like doomy brutal death metal and you dig Incantation; check out Funerus, great stuff!
- Sound of Oil
- Reduced to Sludge
- The Black Death
- Suffering Life
- Comfort in Depression
- Bedpan Commando
- E. Histolytica
- Web of Deceit
- Nebulous Existence
- Festering Earth
- In the Trees
John, Kyle Severn (drums), Sonny Lombardozzi (guitar) and Chuck Sherwood (bass) took the stage about 10:10 and unleashed an apocalypse of guitars, drums, bass, and inhuman vocals on us with the title track of their latest album, DIRGES OF ELYSIUM! FUCK YEAH! It was an incredible wall of blasphemous noise! John and his bandmates were like a well oiled machine, completely in synch, able to change speeds on a fucking dime. I was very impressed with their musicianship. John is the ultra heavy riff master; nobody plays more unpredictable, chaotic riffs than John. He is the Death Metal version of Jimmy Page and bears a striking resemblance to the legendary Led Zeppelin guitarist. Kyle is a fantastic drummer; he had great power, touch, control, and feel. The dissonant solos from Sonny and John were really cool, and Chuck’s bass was solid throughout. Before we knew it, Incantation had also pummeled us with “Debauchery” and “Vanquish in Vengeance” without taking much of a breath. Things were off to a great start!
John’s vocals were sufficiently deep and heavy, but he isn’t able to reach the depths or match the power that former vocalist Craig Pillard had on Incantation’s first 2 albums. Also, when I saw Incantation in ’96 it was with Nathan Rossi (Rottrevore) and the vocals had a lot more punch. That said, Incantation are much better musicians now than they were 19 years ago and the music was better tonight. Also, John is a great frontman that is very interactive with the crowd. He just seems like a really cool guy who happens to be a purveyor of some of the finest death metal ever made.
Set was an out-fucking -standing group of songs that covered Incantation’s whole career. My favorites were “Emaciated Holy Figure” (Crowd got fired up when John asked if anyone knew the MORTAL THRONE OF NAZAERENE album!), “Iconoclasm of Catholicism”, “Rotting Spiritual Embodiment” (one of my faves from ONWARD TO GOLOGOTHA), “The Ibex Moon” (crazy riffs and tempo changes, guttural vox, I love anything off fucking MORTAL THRONE!), and the closer “Impending Diabolical Conquest”. Moshing was on the light side and I was trying to shield my wife who was taking pictures. Somebody did try to get something going right in the front but he bounced harmlessly off me, immovable object that I am sometimes. Crowd response was good throughout the set with intense headbanging. Everyone went home happy. It was a great kickoff to MDF week!
Incantation is a Death Metal institution that every underground metal fan knows and loves. You can’t go wrong with any of their 9 albums. 25 years later they are still killing it live, check them out when they come to your town for a deliverance of horrific prophecies!
- Dirges Of Elysium
- Vanquish in Vengeance
- Twisted Sacrilegious Journey Into the Darkest Neurotic Delirium
- Carrion Prophecy
- Emaciated Holy Figure
- Iconoclasm of Catholicism
- Portal Consecration
- Horns of Eradication
- Rotting Spiritual Embodiment
- Once Holy Throne
- The Ibex Moon
- Impending Diabolical Conquest