Review Summary: Sound but stagnant.
Half the fun in writing about extreme metal comes from the liberties you're not just allowed, but actively encouraged, to take with your tone. Bombastic prose and allegories go hand-in-hand with the genre's inherent theatricality, which is why albums like Incantation's Profane Nexus
frustrate me to no end. It's competent to a fault, checking all the boxes for what seems like the twentieth time but rousing next to nothing in the process. All the while, Onward to Golgotha
just turned twenty-five – its bewitching candour continuing to prompt more conversation than this album ever will.
Maybe I'm just being too cynical, because Profane Nexus
is far from a hollow mockery of what came before it. Hell, composition-wise, it squares up to its ancestors fairly well; these veterans surely haven't lost their knack for segueing between cascading doom and oscillating tremolo lines with ample fluidity. “Visceral Hexahedron” and “Messiah Nostrum” both exploit this tactic to stirring effect, all the while ensuring that neither your foot nor head is ever stationary, and that your brows are suitably furrowed. Even at their most frenetic a la “Rites Of The Locust”, Incantation remain collected, delivering a tumult of riffs that sharply contrast with one another but tie together, thematically. However, that very fluidity, which is so valuable over the course of lone songs, has the side-effect of scuffing the lines between them.
Though points of interest are present, they become all-too-easy to miss while blunders stick out like sore thumbs. McEntee's growls become ever-more unpalatable as they're force-fed to you on the musically-barren “Incorporeal Despair”. That said, the wannabe-macabre bore of a performance isn't too much of a distraction, at least once the rest of the band turn the wick back up during the minute-long “Xipe Totec”. From here on in, riffs are delivered like jabs before knock-out doom segments; those with keen senses will note their handy execution, but what Incantation have retained in terms of musical prowess, they've forfeited in vision.
Everything is just too tidy and measured, right down to the typewriter drums and quintessentially Relapse
guitar-tone. 1995's Upon The Throne of Apocalypse
stands as a testament to a band that was once willing to demand something otherwise considered “too filthy”, but times have changed and Incantation have grown up, I guess. I can only convey through text what the source material imbues in me, and Profane Nexus
, for all of its adequacies, elicits little more than rose-tinted admiration for a group that gifted us more inspired works.