In the realm of Metal, Thrash Metal especially, an inverse relationship between quantity and quality seems to have always existed. In the 1980s, as Thrash Metal expanded beyond tightly woven underground Metal circles, a myriad of uninspired Thrash bands emerged, often riding the coattails of more successful genre bands. The Thrash scene eventually imploded; many bands within the movement softened their sound to appeal to a more mainstream audience whereas many others adopted a more simplistic groove approach. A good deal of bands carried on, however, fighting through thick and thin to have their beloved Thrash sound heard. Alas, many of these bands suffered the seemingly invariable fate of their Thrash brethren and were buried under the waste of emerging and more popular musical ideas. As cravings of a time passed are being evoked in a plethora of Metal fans by the resurrecting Thrash Metal scene, a great deal of bands, thought long dead, are returning to play alongside the youngsters that are creating the impact that these Thrashers of yonder never successfully did. Enter INCURSION DEMENTA (a spelling error on their part, not mine)Ėa great Thrash band that began its career around the time that Thrashís flame was burning out. Hereís hoping you pay attention to them this time.
The recently released "A Long Lane That Has No Turning" (hereafter abbreviated "ALLTHNT") is a compilation album, and it includes INCURSION DEMENTAís sole LP (1992's "All This Is") as well as two demos (from 1991 and 1990 respectively). INCURSION DEMENTA is a great band, and I canít deny their talent as both musicians and songwriters; however, "ALLTHNT" is something of a mixed bag, and I canít help but feel as if the band has a lot of talent yet untapped.
Over half of the compilation consists of "All This Is", and launching the disc is that albumís title track. The song itself is great, featuring blazing and intermittent solos, razor sharp riff work and a savage Tom Araya with an accent vocal performance. Things manage to stay interesting with the follow-up song, "Dirge" which favours a groovier motif and softer interludes, yet it still maintains the intense level of ferocity presented by the opener. Because of this, the album, or at least the "All This Is" portion of the album, suffers from what I like to call "Scream syndrom". If youíve seen the film "Scream", youíll know what Iím talking about; that movieís opening scene was an intense and brilliantly violent scene, and the rest of the film failed to live up to it. While it wasnít a bad film by any stretch, none of it packed the punch that the opening scene did. INCURSION DEMENTA do offer up some more inspired moments before the "All Of This" portion of the compilation ends; "Self Conceit" and "Relapse" are both fantastic Thrashers, but songs like "Chivy About" and "Warfare" emit a feeling akin to bands of PANTERAís then-rising groove Metal genre, and they feel stagnant and dull.
"Cut This Life" has a very promising intro complete with bass-driven grooves and catchy guitar riffs that have an almost singalong quality to them. Sadly, the song, at over ten minutes in length, wears itself out before it ends, and too many of the same riffs are repeated time and time again. The drum work is a constant highlight throughout the song as well as the album on a whole; the drummer has the ability to inject vigour into even the most listless moments, making a song rise from tolerable to a headbangable affair.
The albumís final six tracks consist of the bands two early 90s demos. As expected, these six songs have a rougher quality than the debut LPís ten tracks. The guitars are drenched in a thick layer of static and the drums emit a hollow, tin-like sound. Contrarily, the bass guitar sounds phenomenal, and it is given full opportunity to carry the riffs. The bass sounds very thick and full. The songs on the final two demos are, for the most part, of higher quality than those of the LP. "Ever...Never" is a rousing Thrash affair and the relationship between the riffs and the singerís voice sounds very organic. A unique, almost Middle-Easternly tinged, softer middle section adds some progressive flavour, and unlike "Cut This Life", the bandís attempt at variety doesnít feel contrived this time around. In fact, the only song of the final six that disappoints is "Mother Goose". The earlier songs hearken fondly to the Thrash gems of the genreís early days; they essentially inject NWOBHM-style riff work with a dose of healthy speed.
Ultimately, INCURSION DEMENTA is a band that could have done great things, hell, Iím sure they still have it in them to do great things. There are a lot of great Thrash songs on "ALLTHNT", some stinkers, but it is a mostly solid affair. I understand that these early demos were long sought after relics, and that is for good reason; they are terrific. I would recommend buying this album for those six songs alone, despite the fact that the LP section of the compilation has some winners as well.
(Online September 12, 2008)