INCANTATION are a legendary act in the death metal scene. A band that’s been around since the end of the 80s and with members who were active as the scene was born years before that, their reverb drenched, cavernous sound has inspired a huge number of acts, while the band themselves have never strayed from their signature sound and have continued to put out only the highest quality material. Coming twenty-eight years after their formation and with ten albums preceding it Profane Nexus is their latest offering.
Opening track Muse wastes very little time in getting straight to it with fast riffs, guttural vocals and a general crushing sense of heaviness right from the off. Following straight on from this is Rites of the Locust one of the standout tracks of the record. Short and to the point the tracks displays everything that fans love about INCANTATION with vocalist John McEntee putting in a stellar performance. In perfect contrast to this Visceral Hexahedron is longer and at a slower pace allowing the crushing heaviness of the albums riffs to really show.
The Horns of Gefrin tells a tale of goat worship and crushing Christianity, to no one who’s heard INCANTATION before surprise. The production quality on the album manages to encapsulate the band’s sounds while not smothering it with reverb or cleaning it up too much that it’s unrecognisable. Incorporeal Despair is a crawlingly slow and relatively quiet track with a heavy use of the bass to move the song along only slightly faster than the sense of atrophy it gives off. Once again the running order on this album manages to contrast the band’s style by throwing in the minute long Xipe Totec which plays like a lost grindcore classic from the mid-80s. While Lus Sepulcri cannot match it predecessors aggression throughout it does fall on the faster side of the bands style with a frantic drumbeat driving it onwards.
Stormgate Convulsions from the Thunderous Shores of Infernal Realms Beyond the Grace of God is clearly meant as a nod towards the modern convention of long and overly complicated song titles and is an ambient track which doesn’t really do much to justify its presence here. Messiah Nostrum on the other hand begins with a slow grinding riff before ripping into an aggressive track complete with surprisingly audible guitar solo. This trend towards more audible guitar work continues into Omens to the Altar of Onyx’s introduction before the track returns to a mid-paced pounding with the occasional moments of both bass and guitar rising above the crushing murk. The album is closed out with Ancients Arise which summons ancient gods to return through a long slow track which outshines many of the new “occult death metal” bands entire catalogues in terms of its quality.
Profane Nexus is not INCANTATION‘s best work, but it doesn’t need to be when you’re talking about a band that have literally defined their genre and spawned legions of imitators. For a band nearly thirty years into their career this is not just a solid album rushed out to continue the touring cycle but instead an impressive record that would not doubt be considered a classic had it come in those early days.
Profane Nexus is out now via Relapse Records.
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