Interview: Blood Incantation’s Paul Riedl on Band’s First Ambient Album

Timewave Zero is a journey through both inner and outer space, taking the listener deep inside a kaleidoscopic panorama of the cosmos of their own mind, and beyond. Simultaneously ancient and futuristic, its frequencies wash over you like an ocean of sound, drawing you deeper and deeper into yourself,” says Blood Incantation guitarist and vocalist Paul Riedl on the band’s first ambient record, coming February 25, 2022.  

“While many bands before us have evolved beyond, or abandoned, the extreme metal from which they came, our goal is to be something new, a band which does both. To us, there is no reason a band can’t play cosmic death metal in a club with Morbid Angel one night, and then cosmic electronics in a planetarium the next. Consumer and corporate marketing conditioning do externally impose these types of limitations, but as artists, this sort of perspective couldn’t be any more moot. Being free souls whose hearts are on fire, the sky is ground zero, and the only limit is the end of time.” 

The band’s previous albums Starspawn and Hidden History of the Human Race reveal a gradual and deliberate increase of experimental, progressive, and psychedelic components in the Blood Incantation sound. Timewave Zero is the distillation of these elements into a concentrated piece. 

“When we first started the band back in 2011, some of the first strategies we laid out were to do green logo for the second record (à la Morbid Angel), and ambient for the third. We have a lot of long range plans like this, and have always been a resolutely Outsider band who does things solely according to our own interests; whether that means using linear songwriting, going from Technical Death Metal to Funeral Doom in the same riff, having near-constant guitar harmonies, clean guitars or extensive atmospheric/instrumental passages, what have you—we are just following our own logic,” Riedl explains.  

“Since there are already an endless number of bands operating within the established channels, from the beginning it was always our focus to simply please ourselves first, making the type of music and band that we want to see in the world, and enjoy throwing people a curveball every now and then second. For our last album, which had considerable buzz and anticipation ahead of it, we released the most progressive and instrumental track first, which accomplished a similar effect,” he continues.   

“At the end of the day, existing for our own enjoyment rather than the whims of the scene gives our band total freedom. Simply by being ourselves, we remain independent of any marketing or subgenre norms, and this ambient release is simply the next step in our ever-evolving journey of personal expression. Throughout this process, as our fan base has grown, we have seen a marked shift in the ears of the average metalhead towards accepting and appreciating progressive, ambient, psychedelic and experimental music for their own merits, and not just as accessories to metal genres. 

Timewave Zeromight just be the perfect vehicle for them to begin their journey into those fascinating worlds. “On the other hand, our fans specifically seem to be quite ravenous for such music and have continually supported our pursuit to bring as much of that atmosphere into our music as we can.For anyone afraid of us losing steam, our next release will be even more of a brutal and progressive extreme metal/prog/ambient fusion, the likes of which has yet to be seen.” 

Blood Incantation recorded Timewave Zero at World Famous Studio in Denver, Colorado in 2021. “With the collapse of our 6-leg Hidden History of the World tour for 2020-2021, which itself been a few years’ worth of planning, we were presented with the bittersweet opportunity to fully immerse ourselves in the writing and creative process for the ambient record,” Riedl recalls.  

“At the beginning of 2021, we began the deliberate writing process, which was honestly quite liberating and refreshing. Drawing from ideas caught while improvising and re-contextualizing them into proper long-form movements, as well as pushing forward with new ideas only possible after so much time was spent improvising together, we were able to create vast, dynamic landscapes not entirely dissimilar to our Metal arrangements,” he continues. 

“For the recording itself, we did it all the same as we have done for both of our albums: Everything was played together as a group, recorded live on two-inch tape with minimal overdubs, inside World Famous Studios with Pete deBoer as engineer. In fact, there are fewer overdubs and punch-ins on Timewave Zero than on Hidden History of the Human Race and Starspawn, even though both albums are still 90 percent live recordings.  

“We spent a full week recording, which was a totally inspiring and immersive experience. The album tracks themselves (‘Io’ and ‘Ea’) were both captured in complete takes, and a bonus track (‘Chronophagia’) was recorded while improvising under the influence of psychedelics in the studio. The third track will be exclusive to the limited, two-CD edition featuring a Blu-Ray visual disc with a 5.1 surround sound mix of the album, which is quite epic.” 

The title and the album were inspired by Terence Mckenna and his theory of “Timewave Zero.” 

“Terence McKenna is a major influence on our band,” Riedl explains. “We have sampled him on multiple album recordings, play soundscape collages of his speeches over the PA while we set up onstage, thank him in our credits, and actually recommend reading The Archaic Revival’ (among others) in the booklet accompanying the vinyl edition of Hidden History of the Human Race. As a title, it is merely evocative, and canon with the overarching concept of the band, but we hope it compels a listener or two toward reading or at least seeking out Terence or affiliated authors’ works. The realms of consciousness, psychedelics, and the universe itself are all inextricably linked—our band is merely an omen of this.” 

McKenna argued that the world is increasing in complexity and novelty, dramatically so, and that by 2012 the rate of change and complexity would have accelerated so much that the world would just end in a kind of big crunch 

“Twenty-twelve was just a placeholder, I think; a convenient convergence of theoretical timelines and some cosmic conspiracies,” Riedl admits. “Everything is changing so fast, and increasingly so. AI is becoming more powerful; the synthetic experiences of augmented reality and VR are becoming more commonplace, and the world is visibly accelerating towards total economic, socio-political, and environmental collapse.” 

“Personally, I think the world is utterly doomed on our path toward a dystopian, technocratic hellscape where all of us on the bottom of the pyramid fight over water, while our quadrillionaire, biomechanical overloads parade through privatized outer space. But, I’m also stuck in my rose-colored glasses and acknowledge that, truly, anything—especially another world—is possible, if people could only manage to organize beyond the trivial demographic divides of sports, religion, politics etc. With every technological advancement or industrial development that is made solely to increase profits for a select few, we draw dangerously nearer to losing our own humanity. In the meantime, we just want to make music as much as we can before this, too, becomes an antiquated luxury reserved for grotesquely rich tourists. To quote Mr. McKenna, “Western civilization is a loaded gun pointed at the head of this planet.” 

Watch Blood Incantation live at 2020’s Adult Swim Festival here:

For more from Blood Incantation, find them on their official website.

Photo courtesy of Blood Incantation and Alvino Salcedo

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