Review: “Empiricism” by Incarceration

Five years since their last EP “Catharsis” and Hamburg Germany based Death Metallers Incarceration have unveiled not only a new record but a new line-up as well. Joining vocalist and bassist Daniel de Silva and drummer Michael Koch moving forward are guitarists Pedro Capaça (Violator) and Alex Obscured (Speedwhore, Obscured by Evil) with the band seeking to create something for extreme ’80’s demo-tape’ worshippers to salivate over. Cover illustration was signed by Rodrigo Salvatierra and each song has its own illustration by Jenglot Hitam as the band have sort maximum effect with this new release “Empiricism“.

Daniel da Silva (vocals/bass) paints the context: “CATHARSIS (2016) aimed to clean our ‘Selves’ through transmutation in the form of extreme art. It worked beyond expectations, and the harvest was generous. Micha and I transformed the reality around ourselves through our music and wild artistic and personal ambitions were achieved. EMPIRICISM (2021) is about the wisdom acquired through this journey. The experience was now embraced as a hermetic yet boundless artistic challenge, and from a solid duo line-up, we turned INCARCERATION into a quartet, focused on delivering together our most audacious sonic visions and concepts to date. Thanks to the honorable addition of our new guitarists Pedro Capaça (Violator) and Alex Obscured (Obscured by Evil, Speedwhore), we recorded/mixed everything by ourselves, alone, in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Alex mixed and analog mastered our efforts, resulting in our most natural and raw production to date. Our crude and most aggressive emanations purposely reflecting the rawness of existence, and quoting Kundera, reflecting ‘the sketch that is our life’”.

Michael Koch
 (drums) synthesizes: “The concept of Empiricism deals with our personal journey towards the inevitable and all therein that may be explored. A catalyst from the depths of the subconsciousness. Through conquest and manifestation of the mind inside a dying vessel, we want to strengthen the passion and willpower in the here and now. It is a monumental Fragment that reflects our pilgrimage into the nucleus of our individual existence. Liberate / Transmutate / Remanifest”.

Referring to the theory that all knowledge is based on experience derived from the senses, “Empiricism” is 21 minutes of raw Death Metal across four cohesive and immersive tracks, the likes of which have a lot in common with both Black Metal and Skeletal Remains. “Chthonic Pulse” starts off with a melodic haunting introduction piece that builds into a full on onslaught of pulverizing rhythmic battery from Koch with blast beats and jack hammer footwork galore. His monstrous performances have been a driving force for the band and show absolutely no let up here. The raw production gives the impression that the band are playing live in a basement, garage or cave with the mix deliberately kept slightly off to give that unpolished demo feel. As a concept, it is something that runs through the entire record and is used to create atmosphere while going against the grain of society which says all music must be polished within an inch of its life. At this juncture, we should also point out that this doesn’t provide a hiding place or cover up for mistakes, the quality of writing and craft of musicianship is second to none. The thunderous “Psychic Totality” echoes the opening cut with a vicious relentlessness and driven riffs from the pair of new guitarists who have bought into the concept of this record and deliver some brutally menacing riffs and eerie leads, a couple of which are cleaner than you might expect given the overall sound.

The savage “Beneath the Chains of Existence” opens the gates of heal and summons forth a demonic plague with a crossover thrash lead part that is really fun and sight at the same time while mid track stomp offers plenty of groove between those lethal blast beat passages. You can hear it all beneath the layer of fuzz and the concept isn’t as crazy as some might think, but then you’re talking about someone here who doesn’t have any problem with the sound of “St. Anger” by Metallica without snare. Charging around like a bull in a china shop “Chasms of Metaflesh” is another brutally good assault on the senses, complete with a Power Trip esq dive bomb into an impressive solo that thunders through the valley like a landslide, taking everything in its path. There are going to be fans who don’t like this, there are going to be people who simply don’t get it and there is no doubt that there is a fair amount of risk in creating “Empiricism” but the material under the raw exterior is there to be heard and while it might take a few listens to get comfortable with it, it’s very much worth it [7.5/10]

Track listing

1. Chthonic Pulse
2. Psychic Totality
3. Beneath the Chains of Existence
4. Chasms of Metaflesh

Empiricism” by Incarceration is out 16th April 2021 with pre-orders available over at bandcamp

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