John McEntee’s liner notes for this reissue start out, “This is my least favorite Incantation album…” He goes on to explain that this was a rough period for the band, as drummer Kyle Severn was sidelined by drug addiction, the songs didn’t get worked over as much as they normally would have before recording began and the band chemistry wasn’t quite right. While McEntee may feel that this is lesser Incantation, it’s hard to hear it on the other end of the speakers.
The riffs are quite good, everything is well-played and laid down inside interesting, inventive song structures. “Anoint the Chosen” and “Sempiternal Pandemonium” are particularly devilish, and the slow, bending doom / blasting chaos of closer “Nocturnal Kingdom of Demonic Enlightenment” shows no shortage firepower. True to Incantation’s nature, there are no frills or decoration, just wicked guitars and blasts and whole lot of blasphemic goat worshipping. Severn’s unique drumming is missed, but Dave Culross fills in admirably with a raw, blistering performance. All of this is helped along by Incantation’s longtime producer (and fifth Beatle?) Bill Korecky’s big, organic sounding mix. All the instruments sound like they’re in the room with you (particularly Rob Yench’s bass guitar—a rare treat in death metal), which all goes toward this record sounding like a superb recording of Incantation playing 10′ in front of your face.
While it lacks some of the personality of Incantation’s most iconic work, The Infernal Storm is still a gritty beast and better than most death metal, especially compared to what was coming out around the turn of the century. This style has been done to death—not least by Incantation themselves—but Incantation practically invented it and if anyone has earned the right to keep churning it out, it’s them. And rarely do the impersonators close to this.
Reissued as part of their 25th Anniversary series, Relapse has done right by this album. The gatefold feels luxurious with gold ink and smooth satin finish highlighting Miran Kim’s incredible cover art. The inner panels continue the gold theme on black backgrounds, laying out a full set of lyrics, a number of Ralph Tambora pencil illustrations and those brutally honest liner notes from John McEntee. The single disc on black vinyl (silver also available) is standard weight with gold-on-black labels and sounds great. No idea if this has been remastered or not, but if it has, they didn’t ruin it. Perhaps the most impressive bit is the massive, drool-inducing poster of the cover art with a massive gold Incantation logo across the bottom; Kim’s work is even more stunning at this size.
You can currently snag a copy for about $20 on Bandcamp, which means you can also get a lossless digital rip.