Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Album Review: Incura - Incura II

A couple of years back, I was a huge fan of the 'debut' record from Incura, which was an album that took a theatrical axe to the bloated corpse of melodic rock, painting the scene with a riotous sense of fun as vivid as the blood Sweeny Todd spilled on stages across the world. They understood that sometimes rock needs to embrace how overblown it can all be, and they made a record that was packed to the brim with unforgettable songs. But then they didn't follow up on that. Promises of a new album were made, but updates were slow in coming. Months passed without so much as a sentence confirming the album was still under construction.

So it was with great surprise that I saw the album show up, despite never hearing word from the band or their label that the album had even been recorded. It struck me as a huge mistake from a PR perspective, and if we weren't in the midst of the slow summer season, I might not have been able to fit this album into my schedule. That's criminal, since I had been looking forward to it so much.

Anyway, let's get on to the music. Within the first thirty seconds of "Love To Forget", everything I loved about Incura before is back for another go. The riffs are heavy rock that have some swing and bounce in them, and the vocals are such theatrical performances that I can already hear more serious rock fans whining that this is making a mockery of the form (as though bro-rock, black metal, and everything else doesn't do the same thing). Incura's version of rock is supposed to be fun and indulgent, and that it certainly is.

There was one thing missing from the cocktail in that opening number; the sticky melodies. The last record was one of those that stayed in your head whether you wanted it to or not, and that element is largely missing not only from that song, but from this entire album. I understand why completely; the first record compiled the very best Incura had ever written, and now they had to write that many more great songs in a shorter amount of time. That can be tough, I know.

That element might be absent, but Incura still has enough to propel the album forward. "Now Or Never" might be a bit subdued compared to the Incura I previously knew, but it's still a fun sing-along of a track that has a spirit that puts a smile on my face. As does "Remodel", which throws in hints of djent to the riffing, but has a vocal and chorus that is straight from the first album. It's exactly the kind of song I was hoping for, and it's fantastic.

In addition to the great new tracks, we also get the worst song I've heard from Incura yet, "Help Me Save Myself Tonight". I don't doubt that it means a lot to the band, but it's a flaccid track that bounces from meandering verses to a chorus that is more shouting than a melody. It's a completely misstep, and "This Is What You Get" doesn't do anything to reclaim the momentum. With some vintage effects to change up the sound, there was the chance for something interesting to happen, but the song again lacks a hook that would make the song memorable.

"Incura II" is not at all the record I had been waiting for. It was on my list of most anticipated records both last year and this year. So what happened? I can understand what happened with the songwriting, as I explained earlier. More puzzling is what happened to the album itself, how it appeared out of nowhere with no fanfare or buildup. I have a theory as to how that happened, but I don't want to get out ahead of myself there. All I will say is that unless this is all part of some renegade, underground marketing campaign, it's not a good sign for Incura.

When I saw this record was finally there to be heard, I was thrilled. I cleared out time as soon as possible to listen to it, and then felt more and more disappointed as the record kept playing. It's a decent enough record, but since my previous experience with Incura was amazing, "Incura II" is a pretty significant letdown. They say sequels are rarely as good as the original, and that's the case here. "Incura II" is a shadow of it's namesake.

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