Once again, Incantation have returned to drop another platter of death metal denser than the Earth’s mantle and more noxious than whatever genetic twist of fate finds us sharing a world with Kardashians. Previous album, Dirges of Elysium, was described by Steel Druhm – the one man guaranteed to bring a gun to a knife fight – as “accessible;” a relative term when discussing any metal band, but particularly one like Incantation. Although having somewhat departed from the pure perdition of their first three records in favor of more traditional rhythms, these genre giants are yet to release anything even remotely incapable of diverting entire oceans. Possessed of a wall of sound ugly enough to see Dorian Gray examining his shoes for all eternity, Profane Nexus, is intent to continue the family business with quicksand viscera and storm-wind riffs.

After almost three decades, it would be something of a reach to expect a veteran act like Incantation to suddenly experiment. As such, Profane Nexus sounds exactly as you’d imagine, and that’s alright by me. These are the kinds of releases you judge qualitatively – not on a propensity for transient genre-play; after all, this is death metal, and it wants only to feed. “Muse” engages the record and manages to be both brooding and utterly crushing, echoing the band’s predilection for bi-polar tempos. Next up, “Rites of the Locust” is signature stuff – barreling rhythms, dissonant leads and a vortex of scything tremolos make for one of founder, John McEntee’s, finest creations. While I’ve always felt his growl leaned a tad towards the indistinct, his vocal performance here is suitably bestial and serves to compliment his insistent sanity-plundering riffs.

The once purgatorial crawl that informed the band’s identity has since been refined into a less claustrophobic, but more traditional, doom element that catalyses the deathly riffing. “Incorporeal Despair” drags at an almost funeral pace, though never overstays its welcome, and makes for a fine pallet cleanser before “Xipe Totec” tears through just over sixty seconds of furious barrage. It’s a great track, but the fact remains its purposefully brief tenure feels somewhat redundant, especially when “Les Sepulcri” takes the blistering baton and utilizes it to such superior effect. Similarly, the two-minute instrumental that precedes “Messiah Nostrum” is entirely unnecessary – the time spent would surely have been put to better use had it been attributed to “Xipe Totec” for more fully fleshed fare. It’s easy to forgive, however, when the quality of the material is this high. “Messiah Nostrum” boasts just about everything one should expect from this band: primitive thunder-riffs that intersect with diseased dirges and enough trilling leads to raise the veins. Incantation aren’t peddling facsimiles of their glory days here – a claim some of their peers can’t confidently make… Profane Nexus follows the band’s recent trend of attention-worthy releases by unfurling material the result of 30 years of experience, content to leave the aping of their classic sound to their legion of suitors.

While this is a band with no need to rely on studio wizardry to cultivate an inhospitable environment, Profane Nexus is possibly the band’s most polished record to date, which was unsettling upon first inspection. Bassist, Chuck Sherwood, does his bit, haunting each riff with bass-lines that insistently wander off the beaten track, spidering all over the monumental cuts ensuring the song structures remain unpredictable. This is a record that builds on its immediate predecessors, brandishing doom thematics honed with some of the band’s most memorable riffs. “Omens to the Altar of Onyx” opens with semi-melodic guitar lines before lapsing into a seriously catchy mid-pace. Make no mistake, however, increasingly indelible though the rhythms may be, this is only within the context of the band; this is still death metal in its purest form and Golgotha remains just a heel click away. Album closer “Ancients Arise” exemplifies this, lurching into cold oblivion and drawing the record’s last dreadful gasp.

Profane Nexus is, in many ways, business as usual. Its quality and delivery certainly aren’t unexpected, but I’m grateful that one of death metal’s most consistently sickening acts remains as true to the genre as they are true to themselves. Heaving riffs, Polyphemus-like in their scope and intent, take their worth without skipping a beat, and induct Profane Nexus into a relatively immaculate discography. Superlatives aside, Incantation haven’t strayed far from the bloody blueprint, but in truth, did they ever really need to? Surely not when their conquests remain this diabolical.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Relapse Records
Websites: incantation666.bandcamp.com | incantation.com | facebook.com/incantationofficial
Releases Worldwide: August 11th, 2017

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  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    FVCK YEAH THAT COVER ART

    • Kronos

      Yeah that’s got to be some of the year’s best.

    • RuySan

      I have absolutely no interest in brutal death metal nowadays, but the cover art is the best i’ve seen in a very long time. Reminds me of Sigh’s ‘Scenes from hell’

      • Tyler Kirk

        Incantation isn’t brutal death metal

        • RuySan

          Nowadays, anything that isn’t sugary sweet death metal, like Amon Amarth or Dark Tranquility, is brutal to my ears.

          I feel old.

    • Master of Muppets

      Right?! This one’s probably arbitrarily getting vinyl-ized into my collection, which has far too many a woodland scene amongst its ranks at the moment.

      • The Akerstache

        I made the same decision with the new Disbelief album. It’s okay, but the cover art is so exceptionally good I had to buy it, just so I could have it on display.

        • Master of Muppets

          At least that one’s not so bad that you don’t even wanna display it. I love it when it actually pans out, though. Cascades’s self titled and Aversio Humanitatis’s debut were solid examples of said phenomenon.

          • The Akerstache

            I love it when a great album is complemented by great art, it just completes the whole experience. Progenie Terrestre Pura’s latest is a great example, I wish they had a vinyl for that so fucking bad because I’d frame that album and hang it on my wall.

    • Tom Hardy

      The only thing ‘exceptionally’ good about this album, unfortunately.

  • Dagoth_RAC

    That last sentence. I see what you did there. :-)

    • Ferrous Beuller

      Iron is my name, irony is my game.

      • Master of Muppets

        That last comment. I see what you did there.
        There will be no smiles.

  • Westpaceagle

    “noxious than whatever genetic twist of fate finds us sharing a world with Kardashians.” Never miss an opportunity.
    And don’t call me Shirley!

    • Ivan E. Rection

      I like to tell myself those are bits and pieces of Kardashian on the cover art.
      This and Cormorant for artwork of the year… so far.

  • wayne the devil

    Call the shame police…forgot this was coming out today. Fixed that oversight now! (thanks Ferrous) A very Strong album . Another strong Friday of new music. Too cool…Great review!

  • ssorg

    I can’t believe you didn’t mention Swanö at all!

    • Ferrous Beuller

      I didn’t think his mix was that worthy of mention this time around. Saviour Swano knows his worth.

      • Tom Hardy

        A savior who couldn’t save this one alas, dear Ferrous.

        • Ferrous Beuller

          I liked this more than you it seems, but I do agree, Dirges was superior. I could wax lyrical about this band forever.

  • Tom Hardy

    I wanted this not to suck but barring 4 songs on the album, the rest is mehtastic at best. I pre-ordered and received my LP a few days ago mind you, one for the cover and two from listening to the first two promo tracks which are actually among the best on the record, fortunately or unfortunately. They’re past their glory days and sort of distant from the spark they had in Dirges which was a good spark (finally) since The Infernal Storm. But lets keep this talk about Profane Nexus because I could go on and on about their catalog.

    • foreverAlfon

      what do you think of the last Pyrrhon album?

      • El_Cuervo

        So you would say they were better before? On their first album perhaps? Or even on some obscure EPs / demos?

        • Annoying Old Fart

          Lol

  • herrschobel

    Oh boy. That first sentence alone is a 5.0 in my world. The record is alright I guess.

  • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

    I’ll never forget seeing Incantation and Nile in like ’94 or ’95. Incantation was bullshit-free and whip-tight, barely counting off their songs or pausing between them – just a wall of sound.

    Nile, the headliner, took two hours to set up their gimmicky sample computers and fog machine and struggled to make it through their set without complete technical breakdown. (This is in the back of a Mexican restaurant, for context.)

    This experience has colored how I see both bands to this day, for better or for worse.

    • Here’s Johnny

      Nile were pushing boundaries with the limited technology avail at the time. A few tech issues has clouded your view of their music? wtf!

      • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

        Eh, plenty of 90’s metal bands were pushing boundaries all over the place, including Incantation at a time when nobody really sounded like that (in my young mind). It seems commonplace now, in no small part due to their influence, but there wasn’t much around at the time in that style – you’ve got to remember that doomy stuff was super unfashionable in that era.

        I have nothing against Nile, and I’ve seen them a couple of times since, but they had nowhere near the energy, honesty and ferocity of Incantation. If their actual set had been better, it wouldn’t have been so memorably Spinal Tappish, but they were staring at their feet the whole time. The show must go on, even if windows 95 fails.

        • Here’s Johnny

          Nile were just starting out at that point, they got their act together and by 2003 played just before Slayer at Wacken. Now they are one of the premier live metal acts.

          i love both bands but they are different from each other and can’t really be compared, especially if you are talking about something nearly 20 years ago. Nile are tech-death, whilst Incantation are far more old-school. They are both great live but i’d rather see Nile live if i had to choose.

  • Slam Grandpa

    I wasn’t really feeling it with most of the tracks on the album, maybe the Funeral Doomy sound of Incorporeal Despair made me literally feel despair and the speedy 1 minute Xipe Totec were real highlights on this album for me, I feel like giving this a 2.8 or 3 but now hearing Swanö produced it yeah, 3/3.5 is a good score for this album

  • welyyt

    Kyle From Incantation Has A Mustache!

  • Metal and Hockey

    Great review but while reading I was expecting a 4.0 at the end. Got this in the mail yesterday but busy with the new Cormorant right now. Incantation stand right beside Immolation to me they never disappoint

  • Here’s Johnny

    3.5 score is prob fair for non fans of Incantation, i’d say a 4/5 for fans. this album sounds huge.