After tackling Jordablod and Reaper early in the year, I sorta mentally designated myself as “The Iron Bonehead Guy,” which is a label I’m totally fine with having since I think Iron Bonehead is a great label that routinely releases great stuff (like, say, Jordablod and Reaper). Unfortunately, I forgot one simple rule: no label with 100+ bands on the roster is going to knock it out of the park every single time, and that rule is adequately represented here with Invocation and their second EP, Attunement to Death.
Attunement to Death isn’t a bad record, but it is painfully average. I’m always saying that Dark Descent Records has this problem where their signature sound usually produces nothing but mediocrity and their true value as a label rests in their outside-the-box bands like Crypt Sermon and Craven Idol, and that’s what Invocation reminds me of. This EP is very much “fine,” but it’s fine in such a way that it makes me think this could’ve been released by any C-tier DDR band like Desolate Shrine or Lvcifyre. It’s the exact same type of murky and chaotic black/Death that the underground is so thoroughly saturated with right now, and it doesn’t do much of anything to stand out from the densely packed crowd. Everything is slathered in this hollow, reverb-drenched muck, and goddammit I hate using “cavernous” as an adjective simply because it’s so played out, but that’s really what this sounds like. Everything is so deep and distant and echoey that it sounds like the band is recording this deep inside a cave.
It makes everything blend together, and even the frequent tempo shifts between crawling, slithery passages, and the high-speed blasting sections all sound like the same far-away cacophony. There are some excellent riffs buried throughout the five full songs, but they’re just that, buried. One stuck out to me on first listen. Still, I needed to listen to the whole thing twice over afterward to pinpoint it again. That’s how overwhelmingly samey and uninteresting it is on the whole (if you’re curious, that great riff is at the 3:30 mark of “The First Mirror”). I’ll give credit where credit is due, of course. So I’ll say that the lone track that’s interesting the whole way through is “Divine Transition,” and since it’s the longest song, I’m going to assume that Invocation is at their best when they’re giving their songs a lot of time to breathe and develop. Every song has at least one or two good riffs and moments within them, but they fade from memory really quickly. Attunement to Death is a claustrophobic miasma of distortion and echoed roars and blast beats. And really, I can find that by tossing a rock in any direction nowadays, so why single out this particular band when they’re so “blah” at it?
Attunement to Death will be released on February 21st, 2020, via Iron Bonehead Productions, and either I’m fuckin’ blind, or preorders aren’t available. Either way, I’m sure the 12″ will be available on the label’s store as soon as it’s available.