Profane Nexus is the eleventh full length album from Pennsylvania’s death metal pioneers Incantation.
Incantation should need no introduction. Formed in 1989, and led by founding member John McEntee, Profane Nexus highlights the core line up of drummer Kyle Severn and bassist/lyricist Chuck Sherwood, along with guest lead guitar from regular live/session contributor, and now band member Sonny Lombardozzi.
Album opener ‘Muse’ kicks proceedings off in fine fashion. Featuring solid, heavy riffs and McEntee growling away in fine form, this is a mid-paced crusher of a track; simply a great opener, an absolute statement of intent for the album at hand. ‘Rites of the Locust’ begins with drums and bass locked in furious unison as McEntee hammers out a blinding riff. It quickly descends into classic Incantation – chaotic leads, tremolos galore, and one hell of a pummelling rhythm.
‘Visceral Hexahedron’ opens with a monumental riff giving way to an almost-doom metal paced crawl. One element that Incantation has always done well is their slower passages. Here, they’ve solidified their refinement. The slower passages now are more traditional than frenetic but they serve to underpin the immense riffing. ‘The Horns of Gefrin’ feels like signature Incantation, and that is by no means bad. They’ve honed their style to such a fine point that drawing from that same well feels fresh. The tempo changes are chaotic and the atmosphere is brutal. A solid counterpoint to the preceding tracks.
‘Incorporeal Despair’ finds Incantation conjuring a funeral march against McEntee’s tortured vocals. This is a track that highlights the polished sound of the album. And while it’s nice to hear everything clearly, I can’t help but feel that the track would grip the listener that much more if the production had a bit of rawness to it.
‘Xipe Totec’ picks the pace back up with intense riffs and weaving, blinding short lead breaks. A short track that serves as both an interlude, and as a solid piece on its own. ‘Lus Sepulcri’ picks up almost where ‘Xipe Totec’ left off in terms of pace, and of the chaotic nature of the track. McEntee’s frenzied growling takes centre stage against solid rhythms and interwoven leads. This is another one of those tracks that see Incantation easily giving younger bands a run for their money while proving why they’re one of the marquee names of old school death metal.
‘Stormgate Convulsions from the Thunderous Shores of Infernal Realms Beyond the Grace of God’ serves as an ambient interlude, awash in sound effects and chilling atmosphere. A brief respite from the unrelenting nature of the preceding tracks.
‘Messiah Nostrum’ sees them almost revisiting the grimy nature that adorns so many of their slower-paced tracks until McEntee’s throat-shredding vocals roar into life. The pace adjusts accordingly around his vocals, and the solid rhythms that provide the foundation for another brief lead. The last third of this song sees two further tempo changes to keep the listener on their toes, ending as it began with that grimy, funereal pace making this track a solid one.
‘Omens to the Altar of Onyx’ begins with spiralling lead guitar amid solid rhythm riffs before the drums signal the beginning to the song proper. The song maintains a solid, crushing pace before the atmosphere takes on a near-doom death element. A welcome surprise that sees Incantation drift into it effortlessly. There’s a reason they’re masters of their craft and tracks like these exemplify it. Album closer ‘Ancients Arise’ begins as a slow, tortured crawl as the rhythms gain in heaviness. McEntee’s vocals here serve as a highlight. They feel much better executed when Incantation focus their energies on crushing all around them. This feels like having an anvil dropped on your chest, but at the same time, there’s something in its delivery that’s almost anthemic. It could easily become a highlight of their live set. The last third keeps the intensity but picks up the speed. It features a cold ending, that leaves the listener hungry for more.
Profane Nexus is Incantation at near on thirty years, having honed their sound to a fine point, and perhaps even increased in consistency in recent years. As much as Profane Nexus is enjoyable however, it might have benefited more from a production that was a bit more rough around the edges.
2. Rites of the Locust
3. Visceral Hexahedron
4. The Horns of Gefrin
5. Incorporeal Despair
6. Xipe Totec
7. Lux Sepulcri
8. Stormgate Convulsions from the Thunderous Shores of Infernal Realms Beyond the Grace of God
9. Messiah Nostrum
10. Omen to the Altar of Onyx
11. Ancients Arise