Death legends Incantation find way back to original home with smothering opus ‘Profane Nexus’

There aren’t a whole lot of homecoming stories when it comes to the metal world. It’s a scene that just doesn’t lend itself to that kind of thing a whole lot. Yeah, we had Dickinson rejoin Maiden and Halford back with Priest, but those stories are ages old now that they’re distant history.

After years away from their primary home, Incantation have found their way back to Relapse as vicious and devastating as ever with their new record “Profane Nexus.” Having delivered their first three genre-toppling death platters on Relapse, including all-time classic “Onward to Golgotha” in 1992, Incantation return a different, yet no less violent machine. The band has shed band members like some people shed cells, but guitarist/vocalist John McEntee (a goddamn fixture in the crowd at any metal show in Pittsburgh worth its salt) remains from the original lineup, and around him are beasts including longtime drummer Kyle Severn, guitarist Sonny Lombardozzi, and bassist Chuck Sherwood. This unholy quartet bursts with hellish life on these 11 tracks, spreading their brand of doom-encrusted death metal chaos over nearly 43 minutes of punishment.

“Muse” is a mauling, gurgling opener, with McEntee growling infernally along with guitars that make you go dizzy, and eventually a pace that feels like a zombie walk. Later, the track ignites again, as the band tears at the flesh and prepares you for “Rites of the Locust.” There, the track stomps through the mud while guitars spill over the chorus, guttural, ugly vocals spit blood, and the track comes to a mad, thrashing end. “Visceral Hexahedron” is ominous from the start and pours doom tar, as the tempo grinds slowly, and the rhythm section bashes your skull. Brief ignitions always lead back to the painful dragging over cinders, as mean growls and disorientation bring things to a merciful end. “The Horns of Gefrin” has guitars spiraling and a manic assault delivered, as the vocals strangle, and the song chugs heavily. The music simmers in carnage before the hammers are dropped on skulls. “Incorporeal Despair” churns and squeezes, with eerie guitars dripping, gritty growling, and what feels like a true horror soundtrack reaching out its arms and pulling you into hell.

“Xipe Totec” is shockingly short at 1:08, but it blasts its way in and does ample damage while it lasts. The track is an explosive gasp, as guitars squeal in pain, and the band lets out total demolition. “Lus Sepulcri” trudges and blazes at the same time, as tormenting vocals and a war-torn approach level you. The soloing melts all over, burning flesh, while the back end has a thrashy, animalistic vibe. “Stormgate Convulsions From the Thunderous Shores of Infernal Realms Beyond the Grace of God” takes a long time to say but not as much to absorb, as it’s a short instrumental built on weird space fuzz and sci-fi-style noise, and that leads into “Messiah Nostrum” that mixes doom and psychedelics, a strong outburst that has twisted growls and guitars giving off amazing heat. The song stomps over its final minutes, ending in a lake of mud. “Omens to the Altar of Onyx” lands heavy lefts and rights, a chewy as fuck track that again takes you down doomy passages. Growls choke, while the guitars work together to sicken, with the track coming to a crushing finish. “Ancients Arise” finishes the album on a slow-rolling, eerie assault, with the bulk of the song pulverizing the senses, and the marching done with cement shoes. The track is meaty and thrashy for the bulk of it, giving this record a drubbing end.

Incantation prove on their 11th record that the death flames still rage within their hearts, and they aren’t anywhere near being extinguished. “Profane Nexus” is a satisfying, blistering record from one of death’s all-time greats, a band that has set the pace for the genre the past 30 years and continue to be worthy contributors. We must hold these bands close while we have them with us, and the fact Incantation is back to their original spawning point only serves to make this opus that much bloodier and fitting.

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