Genre: Death Metal | Label: Relapse Records
Location: Johnstown, PA, USA| Listen: Bandcamp
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.