Blood Incantation – Timewave Zero


It’s been almost three years since Colorado’s Blood Incantation released their acclaimed album, Hidden History of the Human Race, and sharpened their credentials as one of the best bands of the new extreme metal generation. We already know they have a unique ability to combine old school death metal riffs and Pink Floyd psychedelic soundscapes, but what happens when they surprise us with a one-off ambient record based on the latter’s ethereal dreamland? Anyone expecting a death metal record will be disappointed, but the results are rewarding enough if you persevere.

Timewave Zero contains all the psychedelic ambient parts of Blood Incantation’s sound but strips away the fleshier elements of brutal riffing and bludgeoning blast beats and leaves only the soul behind. One could argue the band are in danger of alienating their fan base by taking such a huge risk. Albums such as this should be released as a side project, yet the band stated they do not want to limit what Blood Incantation is or can be. How admirable.

The structure of Timewave Zero revolves around two compositions, called ‘Io’ and ‘Ea’, with each split into four movements. Spacey synthesizers dominate with sporadic acoustic guitar passages adding different textures when needed. It’s easier to treat this record like one long song spread over forty minutes rather than eight individual components. The first track starts with abstract ambient noise gauges and introduces the translucent melodies as if building a civilisation that will peak in two millennia when its creators are no more and their ideas less clear. Layered string synths and clean guitar phrasings add to the contemplative solitude. Maybe death is not the arbiter of a finite existence. Is there an infinity we can grasp and understand in the age of religious scepticism and scientific empiricism?

Blood Incantation are famous for their lyrical immersion in sci-fi, so it’s no surprise to hear traces of Tangerine Dream and John Carpenter underneath the oscillations and curious drones. Indeed, Timewave Zero could be a sci-fi soundtrack. You’ll hear elements of Blade Runner and 2001: A Space Odyssey, but the alternative reality here is more yellow than scarlet or turquoise. Imagine it’s 2130, and humanity settled the argument between scientific rationality and human morality in favour of the former with minimal bloodshed and maximum idiocy. Society can sleepwalk into a nightmare future, but can it float into a dystopia due to apathy and abundant material comfort?

As far as ambient albums go, Timewave Zero deserves praise for its accessibility. Of course, it would be interesting to hear more variation in dynamics if they were to explore this direction further. We’d want them to compose a few louder parts to bring it together and make its quieter parts more effective. But this is a solid album, and the band should be commended for trying something different.

At this stage in their career, ambitious risk-taking only enhances Blood Incantation’s reputation as an experimental artist but still leaves them one stroke away from falling into the pretentious trap. Presumably, the next record will take on the challenge of bettering 2019’s Hidden History of the Human Race.

RF & JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 25/02/2022

Record Label: Century Media

Suggested Further Listening: Tangerine Dream – Alpha Centauri (1971), Pink Floyd – Meddle (1971), Kraftwerk – Autobahn (1974)