Spawn Of Possession’s first album, Cabinet, was a minor favourite of mine – coming hot on the heels of Visceral Bleeding’s own storming debut on which two members of SoP lent their talents. Their more technical and meandering brand of brutal death metal worked very well on Cabinet, but by the time of their second effort, Noctambulant, a few factors had conspired to make me warm less to it. Foremost was the increasing focus on technicality; then, there was the slightly more compressed sound; and perhaps most importantly, the apparent disappearance of Dennis Röndum’s masterful voice, with him apparently preferring to handle ‘just’ drumming duties. Ultimately, SoP had begun to appear to me as being rather indistinct and almost interchangeable with any number of the ultra-technical death metal bands utilising digital recording technology at that time. So, after a six year absence and various line-up changes – including Röndum’s return to vocals and the addition of ex-Necrophagist/Obscura guitar master Christian Müenzner, SoP are back with their new CD, Incurso. To say I was curious to hear what they are doing now would be an understatement.
The album starts off in abstract fashion, with a tinkering intro replete with keyboard and guitar strains. ‘Where Angels Go Demons Follow’ then channels proceedings into more familiar territory. In perfect harmony with the very Cryptopsy-like song title, a myriad of different riffs and tempos contort back and forth within a framework of impeccably controlled-chaos tech-death. One of the key aspects to strike the listener is the superior production compared to the band’s last effort; there is a warm clarity here, augmenting the insane layers of speed, heaviness and pinch harmonics. Despite Incurso seeming musically more intricate than its predecessor, its more tangential and abstract moments sound more calculated; adding a greater weight of individuality to the overall experience. It’s redundant to try and characterise each individual track here, if not impossible. What can be said is that furious blasts come and go, and almost immediately, Müenzner’s more melodic influence is felt. In contrast to the relative ‘smoothness’ of Obscura’s current sound, his brand of raging, flashy solos complement the rougher edge of SoP just as well, adding contrast and dynamism. Whilst Röndum’s vocals are far less prominent than previously, it is understandable given the nature of his and Jonas Bryssling’s encompassing, schizophrenic compositions.
There are some moments of sheer celestial weirdness which appear as ‘light relief’ throughout the album – especially in the slower passages. As it progresses, however, the experience of listening to Incurso on headphones does become akin to being stuck in the eye of a tornado – a feeling certainly exemplified by the time you reach the latter stages. ‘Spiritual Deception’, as an example, starts out blasting before digressing off into all manner of off-kilter guitar interplay and then into some deep space, Obscura-like atmosphere, complete with mumbling fretless bass lines. For the listener, the key words – which can be applied to the entire album – are: utter disorientation. If you are a fanatic of bands such as this though, what less would you expect? All I can add is that if you genuinely enjoy sitting down for 50-plus minutes of having your brain consecutively boiled, fried and scrambled by a CD like this, you are certainly a braver soul than me. Whilst personally I won’t be playing Incurso obsessively from start to finish, this is without doubt SoP’s most meticulously conceived and technically accomplished album so far. More importantly, it sounds distinct.
(8/10 Jamie Wilson)