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Look at that orange bubble on the cover!

I know, bubbles are a problematic thing in today's social media world. Without them there would be way too much input to filter, yet being stuck in your own bubble too much also limits your perception.

This might be why I found myself quite surprised by the intensity of some Blood Incantation fan reactions to the band's latest album, even though after over thirty years of experiencing that special kind of blinders within the metal community I really should have known better. Well, obviously I'm an idiot.

But then in most of the musical online circles (even those dedicated to certain metal bands or genres) where I am reading or actively contributing, the common question about a death metal group releasing a synth ambient album would much rather just be "Is it good?" than an entitled "WHYYY YOU TRAITORS?????? 😡😡😡😡", even though the genre shift had been announced very clearly over and over again and shouldn't have come as a deadly shock to anyone.

So if you don't like ambient music at all, just skip this one, shut the eff up and don't embarrass yourself, man! But if you do like ambient or are at least open-minded about it - you're in for a treat.

BLOOD INCANTATION - Timewave Zero (CD+BluRay digipak) (2022)

Blood Incantation are a Morbid Angel worshipping death metal band, which has thus far put out three rightfully highly praised studio releases since 2015. Not only were the skills and arrangements within that framework on a top level from the beginning, but there were always new spins on the style, as well as hints of many, partly very different influences present, which increased to a point, that it became a much more sensationalistic selling point than it actually deserved to be.
Don't get me wrong: The Pink Floyd passages on "Hidden History Of The Human Race" were great and definitely more than just a gimmick, but in total ninety percent of the record were still pure technical death metal. So even though I'm a fan of the album, I was almost a little disappointed that there wasn't more non-metal stuff happening, given the hype that was made about it. But of course perceptions are very individual. And for many listeners the erikvondänikenian sci-fi concept and artwork might have helped in perceiving the "space" elements in the music as much more prominent.

On "Timewave Zero" now however there's no doubt that the various warm sounding analogue synthesizers, which the band had already used occasionally before, are actually much more significant. Even more so, they are indeed all that is.
No metal guitars, no drums, no vocals, just long and slow loops and movements of ambient and droning space, packed into the two longtracks "Io" and "Ea", which are over twenty minutes each. Ironically this makes the release, which the band and Century Media are selling as an EP, already longer than both albums before it (and the actual debut EP anyway).

Still, if you listen to the whole discography in one run like I did in preparation for this review, the radical step from "Hidden History" to "Timewave Zero" doesn't feel nearly as out of place as you'd expect. The sound still fits the image - except maybe for the unreadable death metal logo, which might be debatable anyway.
Blood Incantation are strangers to half-assery. Even though they are operating in a complety different different musical language here, the meticulous work put into the compositional craftmanship - their accent so to speak - stays recognizable.
This band is not moving from their established top-notch death metal to some not really serious experimentation in something else they don't even understand. No, their ambient is also top-notch. So "Timewave Zero" is not just for hardcore fans, who are willing to follow their band into any direction, but just as well for anyone who doesn't even care for metal, but digs Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream, who Blood Incantation are outspokenly paying tribute to.

Other obvious reference points are the movie soundtrack masters John Carpenter and Goblin (mainly Claudio Simonetti's part and not the surrounding rock music), but also slowly droning pieces of Dead Can Dance or the work of electronic artist Lustmord.
Floating between those influences the band from Colorado doesn't add anything intrinsically new to the ambient genre, but as you can guess that's neither the intention nor necessary, given how good this is performed, produced and presented.

The CD digipak includes two welcome bonuses: The CD itself contains the additional third track "Chronophagia", which is even longer than the rest, an almost half-hor long mesmerizing improvisation.

The bonus Blu Ray visualizes "Io" and "Ea" as a journy through space and otherworldy planetary surfaces, caves and temples, in a style which reminds me of Anna von Hausswolff's video for "Sacro Bosco" from her instrumental church organ masterpiece "All Thoughts Fly". Which is also another fitting comparison to the whole album, with "Timewave Zero" being an electronic, esoteric space-age interpretation of ideas which von Hausswolff tackled in a more ancient, sinister and steaming way.

Besides the visuals you can also choose a 5.1 audio mix of the album, which is relatively subtle and not trying to show off too much with surround effects that could potentially be distractive. It sounds really good and makes for a relaxing, trippy overall experience.

Gourmand class Entschleunigungs-Kraut!

Since Century Media artists sadly aren't available on Bandcamp and there's no official promo video of the album on YouTube, here's an excerpt from Blood Incantation performing "Timewave Zero" live just this Saturday:


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