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Underwhelming Profanity - 45%

Petrus_Steele, January 12th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Relapse Records

Profane Nexus brings us an excellent mix of all the instruments, interesting song titles, distinct atmosphere, and as expected... a lineup change. Not significant, but Alex Bouks left after the XXV compilation album and joined another New York horsepower and pioneers in Immolation. Definitely an honor. Sonny Lombardozzi replaced him. Unbeknownst to people, Sonny is either a good friend to the band or something remarkably different since he’s credited in previous releases, while performing live with the band from 2002 to 2004 and since 2014. So it seems, after all, John wasn’t exactly alone as a solo guitarist in the band. Sonny contributed guitar work and some songwriting since Dirges of Elysium. So in this release he’s a session musician, but would perform live with the band. You know where this leads after...

All the songs (well, except for that one minute Xipe Totec) have slower moments in them to create an atmosphere. Before we get into that, the instruments deserve the utmost attention first. Quality or not, the guitar work sounds fantastic across the board, with the amusing pitch harmonics, the fast riffs, and nowadays there are a few unrelenting palm-mutes very destructively. Stating the record has an excellent mix, it shows with the bass. I think it’s got a little more love than in the past, and you can listen to its important and impactful lines; slow or fast. I’m not too thrilled about the drums’ sound, but the performance is still great. And John’s death growls. With every release, he sounds better.

Muse was the right pick to start off the record. It’s got the perfect blend between the faster and slower substance, and even a bit of atmosphere. It has something in common with Visceral Hexahedron, albeit the latter being more atmosphere. You’ll also find songs like The Horns of Gefrin and Messiah Nostrum quite similar with their exchanges from the blasting energy to the gloomier characteristics. Speaking of which, for the first time, we hear the most atmospheric song from the band which is Incorporeal Despair. From bass to the guitar, you have some amazingly executed slow chorus-effected melodies, especially for the bass’s sound that makes the song a bit more melodic, almost like funeral death metal. I would imagine the band being much better had they produced more songs like this.

With that being said, unfortunately, this record is simply underwhelming and repetitive. While I believe all the songs, or those I couldn’t connect to have a lot of potential in them, something in them was missing. With the amount of fast riffs, melodies, exchange of paces, and some heavy notes, perhaps it lacks more energy. Maybe it doesn’t feel as good as previous records. It could be just the direction with Relapse Records that killed the vibe. To an otherwise outstanding production and mix, themes, song titles, and instrumentation, it was yet another uninspiring listen from the band. Of course, I don’t deny the possibility that this record is just not for me. Then again, I’ve listened to objectively better records that the band produced. The best songs are Muse and Incorporeal Despair.

Cohesive but not memorable - 70%

orphy, December 2nd, 2020

Being a long time fan of a long running band is a strange thing. Generally, they'll have at least a few releases that you'll always love, but there's a good chance you'll never be impacted like you once where when you were first getting into that band in your youth. Often times, bands change over time, and they'll take risks by incorporating new sounds or downright switching genres. In the case of death metal titans Incantation, they've never strayed far from their roots, and have been playing doom-laden, blasphemous death metal for 30 years. I'm well aware they're probably never going to release something as amazing as the first three records, but unfortunately, their newer material doesn't stick with me as much as their records from the 2000's either.

"Profane Nexus" is Incantation's tenth album, and quite honestly, there's nothing glaringly wrong with it. But when it comes to Incantation, I just don't listen to this one as much. There's not a lot of parts that come to mind when I try and think of this album, and I only really ever listen to it when I'm binging on the band and I've gone through most of their other material. When I do listen to it though, it checks off all the boxes of what I'd want out of an Incantation record - there's plenty of twisted, tremolo picked riffs, and skull crushing doom sections throughout. The songs themselves are fairly cohesive, and it shows this was an album written by a band working together as a unit. Bassist Chuck Sherwood employs some powerful bass lines, and deviates from the guitar during some of the doomier moments, as evident halfway through the first track, "Muse." He throws in some real flair in "Messiah Nostrum" too, showing he is a thoughtful player throughout the record.

Although I mentioned that they don't do anything unexpected, they do tread on some fresh territory on the track "Incorporeal Despair." This doom laden song employs a modulated bass sound with some eerie clean guitars, creating a uniquely desolate tune. There's quite a lot of gloomy moments on this record, especially later on, like with the closer "Ancients Arise." Adding to the dynamics of this record, lead guitarist Sonny Lombardozzi adds a variety of lead work throughout the record, from creepier melodies, to soaring dive bombs, to more virtuoso solos. He's quite a talented lead guitarist, but this is the only album he appears on as a full time member, as he left during the recording of the next LP.

My biggest gripe with this record is the production. Dan Swano's mixing is just missing something in comparison their 90's and 2000's albums. This is a problem on all of their albums since "Vanquish in Vengeance," and I much prefer the sound they got with Bill Korecky at Mars Studio in Cleveland. The main problem is the drums sound really lifeless. The kicks have an abundance of triggered sounding click, and there's just a lack of dynamic in their sound. Kyle Severn is one of my favourite drummers, and I just hate that soulless modern clamp on him. The guitars also don't have the warmth as on the Mars Studio produced albums. On the flip side, the bass is really clear on here, and it really lets Sherwood's playing stand out.

Perhaps if I was younger, and was just getting into Incantation now, I would like this album a lot more. I know fans of the band who are older than me who don't really praise albums like "Decimate Christendom" like I do. But, as it stands, I just am never able to recall much about this album, despite finding nothing wrong with the riffs or songwriting. The modern Incantation production is the main element that keeps me from wanting to listen to this on a more frequent basis, and I can only conclude that this is one of my least favourite releases. That being said, the follow up, "Sect of Vile Divinties" is a little more memorable, and it's not like I won't be buying whatever they put out next.

Irrelevantation - 67%

lord_ghengis, December 2nd, 2020
Written based on this version: 2017, Digital, Relapse Records

"Does this new album pretty much sound like the first three?"
"Yes"
"Is this new album good?"
"Yes"
"Is this new album better than the first three"
"Well, no"
"May as well listen to the first three again then"

Incantation are comfortably one of my favourite bands. They've churned out over a dozen slabs of filthy death metal across the last thirty years with only one notable break and have never really dropped under "good" as far as individual release quality goes; the issue is it's always pretty much the same slab. Sure, some may have better or worse production, a little line-up change, or a slight lean towards the doom or melodies, but it's undeniable that 2017 Incantation is basically the same as 1997 Incantation. This leads to an awkward situation where the content will always be good, but without some kind of external relevance they're always susceptible to that simple series of questions above.

The band has found spikes of notability over the years to avoid becoming a forgotten relic. Blasphemy was one of their finest efforts musically in a period where the death metal scene had swung hard towards tech death and sharp 2000's "modern" productions, leaving it as one of the finest OSDM defenders of the period. Vanquish... on the other hand was a long awaited return to a rebirthed scene carved lovingly in their own image, and while it didn't match the peak efforts of new guard in Funebrarum and Dead Congregation, the album certainly did re-establish their dominance over the hordes of sycophants. Even their newy from this year managed to catch some eyes, thanks to it arguably being their best musical output since the 90's with some fresh ideas on the doom side, along with also being the most notable classic death metal record going around in an era dominated by dissonant jangling. Which leads us to Profane Nexus...

No one gives a fuck about Profane Nexus.

This isn't to say that Incantation's tenth full length is a bad record or anything; in fact I'd say it's pretty comfortably the best of their "also ran" albums. The Swano production alone leaves it far superior to the meek single guitar track efforts of the 2000's like Decimate Christendom or Primordial Domination. As usual the band have the uncanny ability to fill the suffocatingly heavy and dark mix of ugly tremolos, meaty doom dirges, blasting, and sub-terrestrial gurgles with strong enough hooks and momentum shifts to make each track feel like a real song instead of a haphazard mashing of moody tones. The album as a whole is tightly paced with fast numbers and doomier ones taking turns to keep the interest up. There's some standout riffs scattered about like the descending one in "Rites of the Locust", the swirling melodic leads of “Lus Sepulcri”, or the twisted intro of "Horns of Gefrin". There's even a moment of new-for-the-band creativity with the funereal openness of "Incorporeal Despair" which serves as nice forewarning of new doomy angles the band would explore on its 2020 follow up.

But for all that it's long odds I'll ever listen to this again. There are moments worthy of a revisit for sure, but there aren’t enough to hide the fact I've heard "Messiah Nostrum" and "Omens to the Altar of Onyx" before and better. It's not the least compelling album they've ever done, but it's probably the least relevant one in their whole discography. The middling Dirges of Elysium had already killed the hype of what McEntee was cooking up to a degree, pair that with the old school death metal branches getting over the caverncore and shifting focus towards Finndeath worship and dissonant swirling and it's easy to see why this one has gone three years without a review. I spent 75% of this review talking about Profane Nexus's position in the band and genre's history and the reason is simple; the most notable thing about the album is how un-notable it is.