The history books of death metal are littered with footnotes of bands like Incubus. Not to be confused with the BEYOND THE UNKNOWN thrashers from the same time period, this version of Incubus was most notorious for featuring ex-Morbid Angel alumni Mike Browning and Sterling Von Scarborough. Though the band only existed for a few years, their single, self-titled demo would eventually grow to become the stuff of legend. Originally recorded in ’87, it’s a sort of relic from death metal’s infancy alongside names like Mantas, Possessed, and of course, Morbid Angel. Vic Records has recently resurrected and reissued the demo in all its primitive glory, and while its appeal is likely limited to death metal completists, it’s got plenty of ugly charm.
Though it sounds every bit like it was a demo recorded almost 30 years ago, the 3 tracks here burn with the type of reckless fury that so many bands today try to recreate (some more successfully than others). Coincidental or not, there’s a lot of Morbid-isms in the songs; listen to the lead runs in “God Died on His Knees” and “Engulfed in Unspeakable Horrors” for sure and you’ll know what I mean. But across the almost 12 minutes of play time, the riffs come fast and gnarled, the drums bash with manic spasms and Von Scarborough’s vocals spit anti-Christian vehemence with growls, screams, and wails. After repeated listenings of INCUBUS, despite the raw and unpolished feel, I was pleasantly surprised at how well the tracks held up after so long.
INCUBUS is a short and enjoyable blast from the past. It doesn’t really offer up much other than nostalgia, but if you’ve got an interest in the roots of death metal, consider this worth exploring.
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1. God Died on His Knees
3. Engulfed in Unspeakable Horrors