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As expected... - 75%

Evokaphile, August 18th, 2017

The Porsche 911 has long been considered the pinnacle of motoring excellence. Fast, nimble and ferocious as all hell, the German automaker’s crowning work of engineering is still engraving the stats that the rest of the autosport elites compare their numbers to. Even today, as competing brands surpass the highly touted rear-engine coupe’s lap times, the 911’s auspicious history has set it as the defining benchmark of the automotive world. In much the same way, early-era Incantation’s brand of sickening and demonic death metal remains the gold standard of the genre’s more cavernous underbelly. Has the band been objectively outdone since 1993? The very nature of innovation coupled with the recent resurgence in creative throwback worship tells us that yes, in fact, they have probably been outdone once or twice. Nonetheless, their legacy and long standing history as one of death metal’s most respected groups holds their legend firmly in the hands of the present.

Now, however favorable that innovative pre-Y2K era was to Incantation, there is little argument to be had that after the band’s first three albums, things began gradually to trail off into the ethos of mundanity. This trend followed the band through the 2000s all the way up until Vanquish In Vengeance, which saw the band make a firm statement that with the new decade came a revitalized and reenergized vision. As impressive as that album was, 2014’s Dirges Of Elysium was even better. With an even more convincingly evil stature, it cemented the notion that Incantation had caught their second wind almost two decades after their short but eternally putrid golden age and now, here in 2017, the sepulchrous lords of the burbling murk have once again graced us with a full length effort, the Profane Nexus.

Expectations were high considering the quality of their last two efforts, and despite the fact that Profane Nexus offers nary a glance in the direction of innovation, it does a damn fine job at keeping pace. This is still Incantation through and through after all, and things haven’t changed much. The songs are still labyrinthine escapades of morose decay and ghoulish fright, and they still teeter between glacially paced doom and bombastic death metal forays with an uncanny poise, but this time around things feel a little more unfettered. The famous doom that Incantation have conjured throughout their career is a waning cause here, with all but a few fleeting glances of sluggishly paced decrepitude complementing the agonizing and unapologetically grim “Incorporeal Despair” – the album’s lonely ode dedicated to all that is slow. Less emphasis on these crawling horrors of the underworld and a dialed-in focus on earth-crushing riffs of apocalyptic measure makes Profane Nexus a thrilling affair that serves as an exemplary display of well executed refinement on Incantation’s behalf. Sure, there’s not much here you haven’t heard before, but the outright gargantuan character of it all makes the band’s tenth full length an enthralling affair nonetheless.

These days, you can’t even light a stick of incense without its fragrance reaching the nostrils of a throwback death metal band driving a van to their next gig, something Incantation seem acutely aware of these days. The extra ambition that has bolstered their post-2010 efforts is present in spades, and the devastatingly fantastic production job compliments of Dan Swanö himself ensures every alchemical element is presented with the utmost certitude. It’s the little moments like the pinch harmonic leads that marry the thunderously conquering riffs on “Muse”, or the unabashedly militant marches of “Omens To The Altar Of Onyx” that overshadow the fact that the songwriting in and of itself gets rather predictable after a couple tracks. However, minor complaints aside, Profane Nexus is simply Incantation doing what Incantation does best… crafting dank, oily and bone-crushingly heavy death-doom. As a performance intrinsically laden with a chemistry that only comes from decades of unwavering dedication to all things filthy and cruel, and packed with more flesh searing riffs than you can shake a femur bone at, this badass display of might by the nasty side of death metal’s proverbial Porsche 911 boasts – even flaunts – everything that the bands who worship Incantation themselves strive to manifest.

(Originally published on http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/74584/Incantation-Profane-Nexus/)