Blood Incantation - Timewave Zero review
|Release date:||February 2022|
03. Chronophagia [bonus]
If Timewave Zero is so great, how come there's no Timewave One?!
For a pretty long time, the "ambient album" was something I'd much rather expect from a black metal band. Burzum's prison albums, Urfaust's Apparitions, Agalloch's The Grey, Paysage d'Hiver's Die Festung. Maybe a post-metal band or Devin Townsend too. Somehow the prospect of a death metal band doing ambient music does seem a bit bewildering. But certainly, death metal has gotten a lot more atmospheric these past few years, with Abyssal, Teitanblood, Sxuperion, Chaos Echœs all fitting some dark ambient within their sound. If you asked me which death metal band would be most likely to come out with an ambient record, I'd go with those. Or maybe Portal, which actually came out with an ambient record of their own. But there's another niche at play here.
Blood Incantation's progressive technical death metal has its roots in similar sounds from the early 90s (think Nocturnus), and a lot of it in immensely sci-fi influenced too. It makes sense that the one brand of ambient music closer to that is not the hellish dark ambient, but the equally sci-fi worthy space ambient, something that has also infiltrated other similar bands, like Mithras. Hence why, from the black metal comparisons I made previously, Timewave Zero mostly reminds me of Midnight Odyssey two 2020 detours into space ambient, which made sense since those were sounds already intertwined in the band's sound. Blood Incantation have used synths before to enhance their cosmic theme, so it's not like the precedent wasn't there already. The more I think about it, the more Timewave Zero makes sense.
I did see a lot of extreme reactions to this album, even if most of it stems from the fact that this is an ambient record rather than a continuation of the band's usual death metal style, instead of any criticism of its quality as an ambient record. Which is... uhh... Blood Incantation have specifically announced this as an ambient album, and it's marketed as an EP specifically to avoid that confusion, and yet that still happened. But is it a good ambient record? Split into two lengthy pieces and seeped in that Tangerine Dream heritage, it seems like everything about Timewave fits what I'd expect from a retro space ambient album. The synth sounds are fantastic first of all, and the relatively lean duration should make this less of a slog for any listener unaccustomed to ambient music. At it's worst it's serviceable, and at its best it's compelling.
Judging by how large and uneven Tangerine Dream's discography is past the 80s, I can say that it's likely that Timewave Zero is better than at least one Tangerine Dream record. And with Tangerine Dream's Zeit, which is pretty much the staple space ambient record, reaching its 50th anniversary this month, I can't help but feel like this is more of a tribute to it, and part of me feels more compelled to listen to that instead rather than revisit Timewave Zero. But then again, nobody expects a band who is taking a detour in a genre to be better than literally the staple album in that genre. And I don't want to spend more of this review talking about Tangerine Dream instead of Blood Incantation, so I will just say that I probably both me and the band hope that at least some of the band's fans would end up discovering some Kosmische Musik as a result.
I think Timewave Zero achieved what it needed to achieve. It was a nice detour into a genre that certainly inspired the band. It defied expectations and the record is far from a failure. Soon enough, the band will come back with a death metal record and all will be well in the world.
||Written on 28.02.2022 by|
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