Alex Bouks, Autopsy, Dan Swano, Death Metal, Grave, Incantation, Invoked Infinity, John McEntee, Johnny Ringo, Johnny Ringo's Reviews, Kyle Severn, Old School Death Metal, Onward To Golgotha, Primordial Domination, Suffocation, Transcend Into Absolute Dissoultion, Vanquish In Vengeance
Johnny Ringo Interviews Alex Bouks Of INCANTATION!!!
Interview with Alex Bouks, guitarist
By Johnny Ringo
INCANTATION are what you’d call an O.G. American death metal band. Founded in 1989 by John McEntee, they paved the way for countless other bands with their brutal style of doom-infused pummeling. 23 years later, INCANTATION are just as heavy and relevant as ever with the release of their new album Vanquish In Vengeance (Listenable Records). I caught up with lead guitarist Alex Bouks to find out more about Vanquish, as well as old school death metal’s relevance in the age of triggers and pro-tools.
Johnny Ringo: Your last record Primordial Domination came out six years ago, which is a long time in the current state of the industry. What all have you been up to since the release of that record, and were there any particular reasons for the delay between that album and Vanquish In Vengeance?
Alex Bouks: We did a lot of touring for the last record. The reason why we took so long is because it just was not the right time to put out a record. We wanted to be inspired and not put out an album just for sake of doing it. It had to be right. And last year we were inspired to do so, and still are as we are working on the next one now.
Johnny Ringo: Were there any artists you had been listening to during your hiatus that inspired you to fire up INCANTATION again?
Alex Bouks: Speaking for myself, I don’t really get inspired by music anymore. (It’s) more just experience and maybe art or something. If anything it is just my hate and loathing I have for most people that has been channeled into the music. My people are worthless!!! Pathetic!!
Johnny Ringo: When writing songs in a band that’s considered legendary in the death metal scene, did you feel any pressure to recreate the magic of past records at all during the writing process for Vanquish?
Alex Bouks: Not at all! It was a very easy process and we just played and wrote what felt right to us. Remember, we do this for ourselves and if someone likes what we do and gets the message then that is a plus!!
Johnny Ringo: When I first turned on Vanquish, the minute I heard the opener “Invoked Infinity,” I knew the album was going to have a very catchy feel to it. Did you intentionally try to inject any new elements into this album, or did you use the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” theory?
Alex Bouks: Nothing is intentional! It is all us being honest. That is what INCANTATION has always been. There is nothing plastic or even planned on what we do.
Johnny Ringo: My favorite track on Vanquish is the song “Transcend Into Absolute Dissolution.” One thing about this song I like is how incredibly doomy it is. In fact, the whole album is loaded with doomy riffs. Were you guys going for the death/doom vibe at all with this record, or did it just come out naturally?
Alex Bouks: Most of the doom stuff was all written by John. I cannot speak for him, but he has not written anything like that in a while, so I guess it was just where he was at that time. I am glad because the slow stuff on the record is my favorite, especially “Legion of Dis,” that song really takes me into the abyss.
Johnny Ringo: Vanquish was mixed and mastered by Dan Swano, who is an absolute LEGEND. What was it like getting to work with a guy who’s responsible for some of the greatest albums in extreme metal history?
Alex Bouks: He is an old school guy like us. He comes from pretty much the same background and that was key. I think he did a fantastic job and he knew what to do with a band like us, and that is important. We also need fresh ears on the recording and I think he was the perfect guy. We look forward to working with him again.
Johnny Ringo: As one of the founders of the US death metal scene in the early 90′s, what are your thoughts on the state of death metal currently? Particularly, what are your thoughts on the bands that rely on triggers and pro-tools for their heaviness?
Alex Bouks: Well first off, I am not a fan of triggers. I want the drums to sound like drums and not a click track. Not for me or what we do. Pro Tools can be a great tool, but as long as they are not abused. Heaviness is in the fingers and not from a machine.
Johnny Ringo: It seems that old school death metal is rising to the forefront of metal again. Specifically, bands like you guys, SUFFOCATION, GRAVE, AUTOPSY and IMMOLATION are still kicking around, and even putting out some of your best material in years. Why do you think that, even though there’s plenty of great new bands out there, people still seem to gravitate to the old school?
Alex Bouks: Because we were all carving our own paths, and there was no rulebook back then, where new bands seem to follow the leader. Not to say there are not good bands that are doing their own thing, but I think we were all moving forward, unlike today where everyone is looking backwards. We are all still hungry, and bit older, wiser and even more dangerous then before.
Johnny Ringo: This year marks the 20th anniversary of the landmark album Onward To Golgotha; it’s also INCANTATION’s 23rd anniversary. Looking back to when you started playing music, did you think you’d still be playing brutal death metal 20 years later?
Alex Bouks: I don’t think any of us who have been playing this music that long ever looked past tomorrow. I have been doing this music since 1988. But it is a part of who I am, and who we all are. It is Will!! Golgotha is a great record and a classic and something to be very proud of.
Johnny Ringo: Finally, though you’ve made a career making the most violent music possible, if you could have written any song ever, what would it be and why?
Alex Bouks: Too many great songs to chose from. I will go with BLACK SABBATH because nothing was ever written like that back then, and I can image the feeling of performing that song for the first time. It must have been an amazing experience.
(Johnny Ringo contributes quality material from time-to-time to Universe Number Five. We do not pay him one red cent, but if it’s any concolation, he is my mother’s favorite metal journalist)
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