Sloppy Seconds Volume 3: Incanting the Cthulhic Xul

Greetings, beings of rubbery fleshy-bits, welcome back to Sloppy Seconds where we will once again delve into the previously loved (but nonetheless discarded) metal albums and stuff I’ve dug up at random record shops. Speaking from experience, it sucks when you find a rarer album that has been marked up to insane prices. I can understand a bit of a markup for obscure albums, but hiking the dollar value up to (and over) what you’d find it for on eBay pretty much spoils the fun of digging through all those crates or poring over all those racks. It’s kinda like opening a treasure chest and catching a glimpse of gold, only to have a leprechaun leap out and kick you in the groin before waddling away with that sweet, sweet bounty that you can’t grab because you’re too busy writhing on the floor and clutching your tender nads.

…ANYWAYS, up first:

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Incantation – Profane Nexus (Relapse Records, 2017)

It’s no secret that I hold Incantation in extremely high regard; “Onward to Golgotha” may be my favourite death metal album, and every album they’ve released since has been high on quality and low on fluff. Their tenth outing “Profane Nexus” holds true to that with some very strong material. While every cut is energetic and strong, the one-two punch of ‘Incorporeal Despair’ and ‘Xipe Totec’ is particularly memorable; the former borders on funeral doom with sickening vocals, while the latter is an explosive, one-minute long barnburner. ‘Omens to the Altar of Onyx’ is another favourite, with slow, chugging riffs and great solos. I also couldn’t help but crack a grin when I saw that that they brought back their pseudo-tradition of including a short ambient interlude with a ridiculously long song title. Incantation are in fine form here, and it really is amazing that almost thirty years into their career they remain relevant and true to their sound all while remaining fresh and even pulling off a few surprises here and there.

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Cthulhu Rites – Acheront Bezkształtnego Diabelstwa (Witches Sabbath Records, 2013)

Whooooa, let’s turn that mic down a bit, eh? Holy shit. The shrieked vocals on this EP are pushed right the fuck to the front of the mix to pierce straight through your eardrums like a wet paper bags. Despite that, this EP is an interesting, atmospheric little thing. The first few tracks have loosely structured passages circling around short portions of black metal, some blasting and some slowed to a crawl. The last few tracks blend these elements together much more, to the point that at times it’s hard to tell if what you’re listening to is black metal or dark ambient. It’s not catchy or riff-oriented, but rather everything focuses on building an amorphous Lovecraftian ambience, and for the most part succeeds in doing so. “Acheront Bezkształtnego Diabelstwa” is a weird release that’s difficult to describe succinctly, so the best recommendation I can make is to give it a go if you like the weirder, more abstract side of black metal. At a brief 22 minutes long, you’re not putting much on the line by doing so.

Dominus Xul – The Primigeni Xul (I Condemned My Enemies) (Serpent Records, 1999 / 2015)

The mid to late nineties were something of a mid-life crisis for death metal, when many established bands diverged from their core and entered the dreaded “experimental phase” of their existence, incorporating clean vocals, goth overtones, groovy chugging, proggy passages, or going rock, punk or entirely ambient. I’m not saying that all of these experiments wound up as failures, but I think we can agree that the late nineties scene wasn’t a golden age for the genre. Nevertheless, some bands like Dominus Xul kept the torch burning and just played straight-up, no frills death metal. Originally issued on cassette in 1999 by Negative Entertainment and then on CD in 2000 by Picoroco Records, I picked up the 2015 CD reissue on Serpent Records with no bonus tracks, nothing. Cheap bastards. But that’s okay, because what’s on here kicks my ass. Dominus Xul may hail from Chile, but they took obvious cues from the American scene here, especially early Incantation (who, we recently established, I just lurve). Their approach, however, is murkier and less reined in. Tracks like “Hear Me Satan” and “Polar Son of Lucifer” are chaotic and messy with awesome guitar squeals and solos, but are also never afraid to slow things down to really make you feel it when they suddenly lurch back into top gear. This might not quite be a classic, but it’s certainly overlooked and I highly recommend it. Just do your best to look past the less-than-stellar artwork.

Alright gibberlings, I’m out for now. Stay beautiful.

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