This interview with John McEntee of Incantation features questions by Y. Arkadin.

Reprinted from Metal Curse #11, 1998 by kind permission of Ray Miller.

(Editor's Note: The decision to include this interview provided something of a problem for me: I haven't had any measure of support or contact - absolutely nothing - from Relapse Records, even after emailing them and calling them several times over the last few months, asking for interviews or promo CDs to review. Obviously supporting the internet underground is not a high priority for them. Why? I don't know - it's their loss, though. I have been a follower of Incantation since the very beginning, going back to their first demo and the initial 7" EP (one of the first records Relapse ever put out), and they remain one of my favorite death metal bands. After getting in contact with Disciples of Mockery and reading the interview Yury did with Craig Pillard, I was once again interested in featuring this band in this magazines despite the idiocy of their label. With that tenet in mind, I have decided to reprint this interview - a series of questions which is dated now, but which still provides an adequate picture of the forces at work behind Incantation's music and gives us a little history in the bargain.)

1. Your band has been around for nearly 10 years now, still cranking out the brutal death/grind. What makes you keep going and supporting the scene?

I'm just possessed by Brutal Grinding Death Metal! It's a comfortable way to express myself! It's the only type of music where I feel like I'm truly being myself when I play it! I still support the scene because I have respect for it!!! The underground death metal scene was kind to me in the early days! The underground is my true home! It's raw, sick and fucking metal! It's where I came from!

2. I know you're tired of talking about this, but can you please give a short run-down of what's happened with you and Relapse and how you've come to a sort of reconciliation with them?

Yes, talking about this is old news for me!!! I don't like talking about it, because it has to deal with the thing I hate most about playing music!!!! The business side of it! The bottom line with the problem was started with Relapse not having faith in me! They felt that things could not be the same without the Golgotha line up! Well, they were right! What they don't understand is that even with the Golgotha line up things could not be the same! People in the band were changing! There's nothing that anyone can do about people that change; it's a part of life! As a consequence, the older members started leaving! I, being a stubborn bastard, wanted to keep the band in the same vein! So I had to find new members! Relapse did not believe that I could find new members and still be worth a shit!
After the "Forsaken Mourning of Angelic Anguish" MCD was released on Repulse, Relepse decided that we were still a good band! So they found a way to get the rights for the MCD and now it's out on Relapse! There's a lot more to the story but I don't want to get into it!
Other things that caused problems was some spontaneous business decisions that we both made (us and Relapse)!
The fact that after recording and mixing "Mortal Throne of Nazarene" we had 2 version of the album that I was not happy with!!!! After time I ended up liking them!
I feel that after all the work that was put into the recording I wanted more from it! I want to feel satisfied with it!!!! I think "Mortal Throne" is a good CD, but I think it could have been better!

3. Speaking of Relapse, the "Diabolical Conquest" CD is due to arrive soon. How does this new album compare to previous releases? Is it even possible to top such classics as "OnwardŠ" and "Mortal Throne of Nazarene"?

It's heard to say: each album has its one special demonic sound and feeling to it! We are not really looking to top our previous albums, but continue with the anti-catholic plague we rain! I feel that the new album has a lot of killer raging parts and deeply demonic songs on it! The production is way better than anything we ever did but without being cheesy sounding! I would say it's in the same vein as the first 2 albums but, at the same time, a lot different in ways! I feel that the "Mortal Throne" album was that way too! It's not as basic as the "The Forsaken Mourning of Angelic Anguish" songs. We wanted to save the more complex songs for the full length album and because a MCD is just too short to work with!

4. Incantation's second release, "Mortal Throne of Nazarene" is my favorite death metal CD in my collection. It has a diabolical and unbelievably sick and brutal production that I feel has been unparalleled in the underground. Looking back, are you still happy with this release? Or do you prefer the original mix, "Upon The Throne of Nazarene" more?

Well, first off, the "Upon the Throne of....." is not the original mix!!!! It is the rough mix!!!!! It doesn't have as many leads! It was the copy we sent to Relapse to let them know how the recording was going! I do like both versions of the album! In a way they sound so different that its like two completely different albums! There's so many great things about that album, and at the same time there are so many things that I'm unhappy with! I must say that the Demons were with us without a doubt when we were recording that album!!!!! Just to make it straight there are 2 versions of the album that were mixed. One was never released!

5. Do you still keep in touch with Craig Pillard, the old singer of Incantation? What is he up to nowadays? And how come Craig's voice sounds so clean and sterile on the "Forsaken Mourning of Angelic Anguish" MCD? Was this intended? His voice is practically coherent!

Well, Craig is in some band with Ronny Deo (the old bass player, and no, he is not related to Ronnie James Dio. HAHA)! I do not know the name of the band, but I don't think it's death metal. I could be wrong! (to read about this band, Disciples of Mockery, see their interview - ed) As for Craig's vocals on the "Forsaken Mourning of Angelic Anguish" CD, most of the lyrical pattern were spontaneous! He just went off! I don't think he had done vocals like that for a long time! I don't think that the vocals on the MCD are bad. You are right - they are not as low and more clear! It's not like we told him to do it that way! For me the power and the lowness are important! I think Craig did a great job on the MCD, but I understand your point!

6. The production on this new MCD, as a whole, is far cleaner than any of the other releasesŠ although this sort of production is sure to win the praise of many critics, it robs the music of all of it's sublime qualities, in my opinion. What do you think?

If that's how you feel, then that's how you feel! I don't think it robs the music of its sublime qualities at all! I feel the production worked for those songs! The songs on the "Forsaken Mourning" MCD are more basic! So I think it works! I think it's just not muddy. I think it has like an Evil smoky sound! I think it's funny because I get this problem from both sides - The Commercial Death Metal people think the production is too primitive, and some of the die-hards think it's too polished! So, what the fuck! We play Brutal Grinding Death Metal the best we can!!!! If people like it cool, if not, too damn bad! We play for the love of metal!!!! If we wanted to try to make money we would do something more like the new Amorphis or Xysma, or better yet, like The Spice Girls (Maybe the Spice Guys. HAHA!!!!). To be truthful, I would much rather see a long-time supporter of the band and Death Metal come up to me and say, "Wow, your new CD is kick ass", than a critic from Spin giving it a good review! What do most Critics know about Death Metal? We live it!

7. You have a CD out now on Elegy called "Tribute To The Goat." Can you describe this release to those uninformed? The first copies are reportedly "smeared in goat's blood" - Doesn't this get messy in the shipping process?!

For us the true symbol of Evil and the power we get from Metal is none other then the GOAT! The GOAT must be worshipped, because we are all at one with the GOAT and the GOAT is at one with all that is Evil and Dark and that is INCANTATION! (well there you have it - ed) It is a Live in the Studio recording that was recorded in N.J.! Things with the CD got all fucked up and Mike (Deathrune) and I had to do over-dubs because we didn't have a full line up then! We are not 100% happy with it but it's still a good release! The wrong line up was put in the CD liner notes! The line up was Mike Saez (Guitar and some Bass), Me (Guitar, and other Bass), and Kyle (Drums)! It also has our 1990 Demo with Will (Mortician), Sal (Guitar), Ronny (Bass), Peter (Drums), and Me (Guitar). I did not get one with the GOAT's blood, but maybe they smell bad!

8. What music are you listening to now in your spare time? Are there any unsigned bands that you would recommend?

I mostly listen to all kinds of metal! Most people try to say that they are above Metal and shit! I say fuck that! I live for metal! I've been listening to the new Morbid Angel, the new VaderŠ oddly enough, I really like the new Suffocation (I don't like the old stuff except for when I seen them live - they get a lot more brutal), old My Dying bride, Imprecation, Sarcofago, Autopsy (all), Putrefaction, The Chasm (the new CD), Bolt Thrower, Krisiun, old Paradise Lost, Hemdale, Venom (the new one is kick ass), the new Judas Prist (Fuck off, it's kick ass. Judas Priest was the first concert I ever saw back in 84!!), Immolation, Necrophagia, Destruction, Vital Remains, Sodom, Possessed, Immortal, Mentors, Incubus, Necrovore. As for newer bands, I like Abhorrence (Brazil), Malignancy, Somnus, Defiled, Mysophilia, Disfigurement, Pederasty, CorpseVomit, Infamy - Just to name some!

9. What are your feelings on ambient and experimental music and how it has gained such a high level of acceptance in the metal community?

I don't care about that kind of music! Most of the stuff that I have heard I didn't like at all! People just think because we put an outro on our MCD that we like all the noise shit /ambient, whatever! If you want to hear an objective opinion [? - Yury] you will not get it from me! I think almost everything I have heard sucks! I think it's just trendy to "release your mind" (Sorry Relapse). That just how I feel! If there was something in that style I liked I would say it but I have not heard anything that is worth a shit to me! I'm just a stubborn Metal loving bastard!

10. If you found out that Jesus Christ is still living and was a big fan of Incantation, would you quit writing nasty lyrics about him?

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!! That is funny! Sorry but I can not trust the bastard son of a whore! I would like to pump some yogurt on him, or maybe throw some cookies at him! [Throw some matzaballs at him, while you're at it - that should really piss that fucker off - Yury]

11. I suppose that's all. Any last words, blasphemes, hails, etc?

Thanks for the Interview, you sick mother fucker! Thanks for the true underground support! Christ sucks! The GOAT is your friend! Prepare for the Impending Diabolical Conquest!!!!!