Album review: Incantation – “Profane Nexus”

Profane Nexus is yet another superb offering from one of the most consistent bands in death metal. Rather than seeking to reinvent the wheel, Incantation have been focusing on polishing and refining their genre-defining sound and honing their song-writing chops. Recent years have seen a surge in bands inspired by Incantation‘s cavernous, morbid approach to doom-drenched death metal, but Profane Nexus proves that Incantation are still the reigning kings, as they return with a vengeance.

With production by Dan Swanö, Profane Nexus is perhaps the cleanest sounding Incantation album to date, but it accurately captures and conveys the noxious atmosphere that is the band’s forte. Since 2004 both vocals and guitars have been handled by the sole remaining founding band-member John McEntee, whose utterly ferocious, monstrous vocal performance on Profane Nexus is by far the best in his musical career. The band’s brand of death metal is as merciless and as disturbing as it ever has been; blasphemous references to oracles, vessels, ecstasy, hell and rebirth abound, and the dissonant, colossal guitarwork is – as always – unmistakably Incantation.

The band also continue to smooth the edges between the death metal and doom metal influences they’ve always sought to weave together, while also producing one of the most diverse albums in their discography. Tracks like ‘Rites of the Locust’, ‘Visceral Hexahedron’ and ‘Lus Sepulcri’ are brutal, hard-hitting death metal servings, and ‘Xipe Totec’ – which clocks in at just over a minute in length – is one of the most abrasive and aggressive tracks the band have recorded in years. But songs like ‘Incorporeal Despair’ and the final three tracks from ‘Messiah Nostrum’ to ‘Ancients Arise’ pulverise with their colossal weight and menacing motifs. And through it all, the band successfully deliver songs that are as unsettling and memorable as they are devastatingly, crushingly heavy.

There’s not a weak track on the album. Armed with a clean but organic production job from Dan Swanö and incredible artwork from Eliran Kantor, Profane Nexus firmly establishes that Incantation are a band with plenty more to offer the world of death metal with one of the best death metal albums of the year. They’ve still got it.

Profane Nexus is available now through Relapse Records and can be ordered through the label’s webstore.