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INTERVIEW: Blood Incantation – US Death Metal Sensation

A couple of months ago, fans of death metal were treated to one of the best records in the genre this year. This came from Colorado based four piece Blood Incantation. The band’s debut full length came as a whirlwind of old school riffs that felt like it was created by some space faring entity that has had first hand experience with wormholes and nebulae. With long mind twirling tracks, Blood Incantation reminds one of the likes of Demilich, Gorguts and Nocturnus, while managing to create a distinctive and unique sound for themselves.

We at Transcending Obscurity fell so much in love with this record and band, that we wanted to know as much as we can about them. So we approached the band and managed to exchange a few words with the band’s guitarist / vocalist Paul Reidl, who talked to us about the band’s themes, evolution and their recent tour in support of their album ‘Starspawn’. 


Transcending Obscurity (Shrivatsan R) :  Hi guys. Thanks for taking the time. Blood Incantation does not employ any form of click-tracks or triggers during recording and has minimal use of digital artifacts of any sorts. How important is this to your creative process?

Blood Incantation (Paul): Correct, simply enough this is just how we like to play. We prefer to bring in our actual live setups and play it all at once like we do every other time anyway. We like how it sounds. Our live sound is very specific, pretty dialed-in, and we want to retain the synergy generated through playing as a group. In the studio of course it is great to add accents and enhance certain things, but we keep things like that to a minimum; just a few synths, guitar solos, stuff like that. The interlude was our place to really get heavy with the effects and multi-tracking, and Hidden Species is the only metal track with synths in the middle of the song – all other accents are at the ends. I would say the recording technique is actually just another aspect of the creative process, since you rehearse in order to play well, and you can only record (in analog) as well as you play.

TO:  What effect has adding a fretless bass (by Jeff Barrett) had on the music of Blood Incantation? Did the band always have a fretless bass in mind during the early days?

BI : We had already been playing with Jeff in other bands for years by the time he joined, so it was instantly great to have mutual playing styles. We had been unable to find a fretless bassist for years, it was really a game changer. We definitely always wanted fretless, that’s why Damon from StarGazer played session bass on the ‘Interdimensional…’ EP. Rehearsing is better, live shows are better, recording is better; everything has improved since completing the lineup.

bi-liveTO (Chris Dahlberg) : Your arrangements have become more complex over the years.  How do you feel you’ve grown as songwriters, and what elements did you really try to push to a whole new level while writing ‘Starspawn’?

BI: Thanks man, we are just trying to push ourselves to make the music as sick as we can. We love all types of riffs, so we just try to make it something we’d like. Of course there are physical limitations as to what we can play, but in general we tend to improve as players in some way with each new composition, which is also just the result of trying to learn how to play what you can hear in your mind. When writing a riff sequence or finding notes for a harmony, your mind can usually hear where the notes are supposed to go, or what sort of beat is supposed to come next, that sort of thing. You can hear the pitch, you have to try to find the frets to go along with what you’re hearing in your mind.

TO (Chris Dahlberg) :  ‘Starspawn’ begins with its longest song, the thirteen and a half minute Vitrification of Blood (Part 1).  What made you decide to start the album off with the longest piece, and where there any additional challenges writing a piece this length compared to the rest of the material?

BI : It is a good opener, is all. It starts immediately and takes you right into the stargate. That song was slightly harder to build simply due to the sheer number of parts. Most of the riffs for our songs are written in the order they end up being recorded, and it is easy to get lost in the middle of a song before there are defined beginning and ending points.

TO : On the new album the tracks seem to reflect the school of thought “as above so below” i.e. how atoms in an organism is the same as what makes distant galaxies. What inspired the band to write about this idea?

BI : Reality, of corpse… Perhaps some of your readers may disagree, but we encourage them to research things on their own.

TO (Chris Dahlberg) : All of your members are involved in other projects.  Where does Blood Incantation fit into all of this, and how much time are you able to devote towards it?  

BI : These bands are our lives, so all of our time is focused on them. We all have jobs but really these are secondary to be able to tour, record, etc. We are always jamming or scheming merch or art concepts, always thinking of how to make the bands work. Jobs come and go but we will always keep touring. With all the different bands we all play in, the goal is to tour, put our records, etc. None of us like going to work, not because we’re lazy but because society is simply bullshit and a waste of human creativity. So our bands are our main focus, because that is how we escape the meaningless empty society, if even temporarily since most tours can’t be more than a month.

TO (Chris Dahlberg) : You’ll be heading off on a tour in support of ‘Starspawn’ in September. What can those able to make it out be expecting from your live performance in comparison to your recorded output?

BI : We have just returned from tour and it was great! It was basically the opposite of all our previous tours: instead of 90% bunk shows with one or two ragers, it was nearly all packed/raging shows with only one or two odd nights. Some of the turnouts were really insane! Everybody seemed to be into it. We unfortunately ran out of merch before the end, but it was still a success. As for performances there are many videos on youtube to give an idea. Comparing the live performance to the recording is kind of moot as the album was recorded live with the same equipment we play live with, so…

starspawn-cd1TO (Chris Dahlberg) : This is your second release with Dark Descent.  How did the collaboration with the label come together and what do you feel the benefits of working with them are?

BI : We have been customers of DDR since before BI were working with them. It’s a great label, the bands are killer and the distro is fucking infernal!! I think living somewhat nearby has given us a unique relationship with them, since we are down there semi-regularly, and we are always just a phone call away. It is good to have this personal element, too many bands and labels are only communicating digitally and a lot of the interpersonal subtleties are lost. Because Matt knows us as people he is automatically more involved in our band than if we were just text and some art files being sent from across the globe. We had been sending him rehearsal tapes and links to live videos for a few years, but he didn’t reach out to us until after he’d gotten the “Astral Spells” promo. His involvement really saved the EP because he was able to get it re-mixed after we’d had several years of problems with the recordings.

TO : Blood Incantation maintains a very limited social media presence and even band pics are quite rare. Is there a reason for this?

BI : I mean, on the one hand, we just don’t have time. But on the other, we just aren’t interested in that sort of thing. That’s not what metal or the underground are about. What would any of you modern “music fans” have done before the internet?? Have you ever written an actual letter to a band? I got into music by going to shows, buying stuff based on the art or aesthetic, trading mixes with friends and reading zines, looking at LP inserts and trying to track down what patches I could read from their band photos, reading thanks lists; basically all the normal ways to do this. Nowadays kids can’t even buy a new album from a band they already like unless the internet tells them they can, it’s pathetic. People 1) really seem to think their opinions matter about anything, and 2) somehow let other peoples’ equally useless opinions dictate their own tastes. If you want to get into our band, it’s very easy: we go on tour, we play festivals, our music is available online, all of our official releases are available on multiple formats, issued in thousands of copies, people rip our shit to Youtube, everybody’s trading download cards, whatever else. Our merch is available at the shows, as well as directly from our label, who has a huge social media presence. Anytime there’s an update about tour, recordings, merch, or anything it is posted by our record label’s multiple social media channels – so what else do you need?? Really people just love to complain. They want to think they’re involved and make all these weird comments and message you about shit that’s easily answerable without bothering anybody, but they still ask. If you ever wonder why most bands don’t hang out with their fans, it’s because most people on earth (and subsequently, most metalheads) are so retarded that frozen pizza boxes actually have to tell you not to put the cardboard box in the oven – they literally need to be told that the plastic wrap needs to be removed before cooking. These are the people out there having kids, man. Additionally, the internet metal scene is total bullshit, dude, just fake and impersonal bullshit – these people are either haters, nerds or PUNISHERS. They just want to nerd off all over your shit, brag about useless materialism, nit-picking every little thing about your past and really just doing their best to take the fun of out this for anybody who’s actually in a band. Maybe it’s because these people have never been PUNISHED by their fellow nerds. Maybe they think it’s fun or interesting to be hounded by awkward dudes making bad jokes and trying to out-kvlt each other while complaining about your band’s style but still asking you to sign something – it is PUNISHMENT!!! So we leave them alone. If you want to hang out, come to the show. If you really need to talk to us, write us a letter. But basically just listen to the records and enjoy the riffs, it’s not about “us” it’s about the Riff!!!!!

TO : On the artwork front, did you always have Don Dixon in mind while working on the record? Or did the selection happen afterwards?

BI : We found him before the EP came out, so the art was pretty well laid-out before going into the studio. I’ll make lots of mockups and various hardcopies changing one or two elements at a time in order to fine the proper layouts. For the most part the final products are usually pretty similar to the rough draft. Don was very easy to work with and seemed to be excited we were using those specific pieces.

TO : Is there anything else you’d like to say about ‘Starspawn’ or Blood Incantation?

BI : Just that they represent the ultimate cosmic conspiracy that is humankind and all occult/philosophical tangents that permeate from that abysmal fractal. Whether or not you consciously choose to engage our references, you nonetheless live in thrall to the systematic drudgery of modern industrialized civilization on a daily basis anyway, and you are physically experiencing our emanations at this exact time as your thoughts rattle through your mind while you read this. Resistance is futile – OPEN YOUR MIND.


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