The blasted July 2017 EP The Slavic Covenant of Incursed did not impress the RMR deck crew. Too many oldies and not enough goodies, I can tell ya. Bands need to produce new, awesome material that is unique and people will want to hear. Not endlessly regurgitate old stuff or go for weird pop covers. The mighty Symphonic Metal front chicks from Exit Eden recently tried to pull that pop cover stunt as well. The outcome was – well – bizarre to say the least. With tracks ranging from juvenile wet dreams to age-old pop disasters that we all hoped would stay dead. But that will be for a different review, if ever I find the time.
So, trepidation reigned when we started to look at Amalur, the brand new full length record Incursed unchained this September of 2017. Much to our relief, the album is a friggin’ bundle of metal energy. With much more mature and new material to boot than at first meets the eye. But, did they do it again? The inclusion of previously released tracks? Damn straight they did: Try Akelarre, The Slavic Covenant and a new version of Fear a’ Bhàta to name just three. But more to that later.
Incursed hails from – no, not Ireland. Or Denmark, the old nemesis of the Britons back in viking times. They join us from Basque Country in Spain of all places; Bilbao to be precise. I confess: At first I placed them somewhere up in the cold North, not on the Northern shore of Spain, though. But hey, tapas to go with my metal for sure works for me.
Their unique brand of mid-tempo Power Metal with a compound of Folk and Pagan Metal kind of sounds like Alestorm, Kamelot and Ensiferum with a dose of the recent Kaledon thrown in. A light sprinkle of a somewhat progressive flavor garnishes all of them tracks.
At the same time Incursed retain this scratchy, garage-band quality that always gets on my good side. This impression of something raw still waiting to be discovered always draws me like a bear to honey. Then add a hint of harpsichord laced keyboard. And already we have this faintly baroque and slightly decadent taste that will make you go for seconds.
Not that Incursed did not produce any duds on Amalur. This Alestorm imitation unhappily called Zombeer Alcoholocaust should just stay in Davy Jones’ Locker where it belongs. And not come out anymore – ever. If you want to be Christopher Bowes‘ band equivalent, then you also need to muster their energy, inherent savvy and dangerously large swagger. If you can’t do that, don’t even try.
But then they produce other tracks with a mix of Spanish acoustics and metal, coupled with somewhat gruff lyrics reminiscent of Slap Betty. In other words, they can do all: Power Metal, roughly-hewn ballads with strings or archaic instruments – and any mid-tempo concoction in between. To add some more spice, they do have the guts to try somewhat unorthodox approaches to serve your metal menu. For instance Amalur – the highly compressed ballady title track – combines Spanish guitar acoustics and gritty metal in a pretty appealing setting. At first this weird mix found throughout the record did not ring true. But it is actually pretty good, as it shuffles the metal ingredients differently.
The band also fearlessly go after some traditional fare and turned a fine Irish love ballad into a metal song. Yet, the aforementioned Fear a’ Bhàta (boatman) sounds jolly good in its downturned metal glory. The band pretty lustily chants down the lyrics on that track – and then some. This traditional Irish folk song from times past exists in a myriad of versions, types and flavors. Yet this here latest metal interpretation is just tasty. From a metalhead’s point of view of course.
Then again Incursed float sideways into ballads like A Crownless King. Together with Ibone Gómez Tobarra of Sister Moon the band unleashes a pretty sturdy low-tempo track. As a duet, no less. Again, a bit unusual to use blast beats in a rock ballad, but hey – ’tis their style. And finally we find a solo worth its salt in this specific track, Loki be lauded. On top, the cheeky dry humor in the thrashy moshpit-infused track The Slavic Covenant almost made me choke on my whiskey.
So, you might have guessed it from the coarse language above. Incursed annoyed me and at the same time impressed me with Amalur. On one hand they rehash old tracks over and over again. And this results in some serious staleness on this record. On the other hand, they release new material in this gritty, rough brand of rocky metal that seems to blast straight out of the proverbial garage. And this sets them apart from the mean crowd and gets them on a course to fame. Cool record.
Oh, and do good ‘ol RMR a favor: Get us new stuff exclusively next time. No warmed-up potato salad anymore on the mighty track list. That would help a lot, I am sure.
Editor’s note: Congratulations, the record successfully made it onto the 2017 Top 10 Records list!
Record Rating: 7/10 | Label: Self-Released | Web: Facebook