Come 2001, there may have been less of an immediate need for artists to come along and fill in the footprints of the German thrash legends, because all the important ones were active and once again performing the music we so loved in the first place. But bands like Witchburner, who were known for their worship of old Kreator, Sodom and dark US bands like Slayer or Possessed, also chose this time to step up their game, and Incarnation of Evil is a clear improvement over either Witchburner or Blasphemic Assault in both the songwriting and production categories, with a number of pieces here that stand to date as the most impressive of the band's whole career...
However, there is still some inconsistency plaguing the material, and several of the songs sound as if they were mixed separately. I love the seductive, evil intro to "Devils and Witches", and it's a pretty straight shot to mid 80s Kreator or Sodom, speedy muted guitar streams that do not unfortunately conjure up catchy riffs over Patrick Kremer's vocal splatter. "Nuclear Overkill" is better, but "Hexenhammer" just violates everything else on this album, a raw rush of reckless and relentless aggression that highlights simple and effective riffs and slathered, overbearing vocals that completely fucking dominate through their eccentricity. A few more songs like this, and we might have had a minor masterpiece on our hands, but the quality doesn't hold up. "War and Witchery" and "Execute Them all" are decent for a slower pace, and "Ultra Violence" and "View Beyond" provide a similar headbanging mania to "Hexenhammer", but it's only the closer "Metal Warriors" which has riffs just as good, and this is another of their career heights, though some might be put out by the cheese of the chorus.
All said though, Incarnation of Evil is the first Witchburner album that I can sit through in its entirety and enjoy, with only a few inklings of boredom. It might lack the decrepit, lo-fi appeal of its predecessors, but it maintains all of their charm, with the rasped and violent vocals and the 80s purity of the writing. If you're into the nostalgia of bands like Witchtrap and Nocturnal then this is not something to turn your nose from. Old school, ridiculous lyrics and song titles, leads ripping into abandon, blazing 'we don't give a fuck' guitar riffs and seriously awesome cover art ensure that the patch enameled, denim high hesher crowd will devour this in full, despite its inconsistencies.
Verdict: Win [7.5/10]