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Incantations of the Gates (1989)

Forming in 1988 and taking their name from the legendary Scream Bloody Gore album, Infernal Death was an obscure black/thrash metal band from Texas, of all places. Hailing from El Paso, this band had quite a following in their area. They recorded and released their first demo in March 1989, titled Incantations of the Gates. Sounding nothing like other American underground bands, such as Morbid Saint, Necrovore or Preacher, this had a demonic quality that hearkened back to the blackness of the ancients, such as Bathory, Sodom and Possessed.

The demo begins with "The Rites of the Ensnarer", the title sounding very similar to a line from an old Morbid Angel song. It starts with a somber acoustic melody, accompanied by drums. The repetitions of this melody serve to lull the listener into a trance. After about a minute, Slayer-esque thrash riffs explode from the serene atmosphere, with the supremely demonic voice of Paul Russ. The song is short, yet memorable.

"Incantations of the Gates" opens with a mid-paced build up, before launching into another diabolical assault of Black/Thrash. There is a pretty decent solo, near the beginning of this instrumental. The pace changes enough to keep things interesting. The riffs, near the end, take things to a darker place, while still remaining quite memorable. Rumour has it that this whole demo was recorded in one take and then mixed in about half an hour.

"Take Me To Hell" wastes no time in going on the attack. The vocals are pure evil, spewing forth blasphemy at a frenzied speed, keeping up with the intense riffs. No lyrics are included, but a keen ear will pick up all the conventional themes of early black metal. At just over two and a half minutes, this is the shortest song on here.

This demo concludes with "Satan's Metal". It begins with more intense thrash riffs that seem almost familiar. The vocals are really up front, in the mix, as Russ screams, "Satan's metal!" As with the rest of the demo, vocals and guitars dominate the sound, as the drums are more of an afterthought, as with most black metal. There are some mid-paced thrash riffs, near the middle, that precede a twisted and hellish guitar solo. The lyrics aren't particularly brilliant, but they suit this music, perfectly.

"Fighting angels
Demons winning
Killing christians
Church is bleeding"

Incantations of the Gates displays a simplistic approach to black/thrash metal, retaining the primitive sound of the earlier bands, despite being created during a time when most of their peers were enamored with the technical thrash metal style. With only 50 copies made, this one is about as rare as it gets. If you can get your hands on it, in some manner, it is well worth it.
(13 May 2009)

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