-by Devdutt Nawalkar
Album: “Profanatitas de Domonatia” (2007)
It’s hard to be shocked by most extreme metal these days and even harder to take most bands seriously. The old themes of religion bashing, although perhaps more relevant, and in dire need of being heard, than any other point in history, have started sounding trite and insincere when expressed through the vessel of heavy music. New bands either get caught up in the technical aspect of music or are too preoccupied in replicating a particular sound from a bygone era. While they have succeeded marvellously on the first front, it is the latter that is often found wanting in spirit and vitality. Europe and the United States, inspite of having a lucid history and having played pivotal parts at various junctures in the development of extreme metal, have long been sterile in breeding truly disgusting, obnoxiously putrid black/death metal . It is therefore a surprise of the most horrific aspect that one of the progenitors of American blasphemy have risen out of the fetid depths of oblivion to give vent to almost a decade’s worth of pent up depravity. ‘Profanatitas de Domonatia‘ is Profanatica’s first full length after seventeen years of being and goes some way in alleviating the frustration of years of inactivity.
Paul Ledney was somewhat of an underground legend back in the day. Originally a member of Incantation and Revenant, he split from those illustrious institutions to form Profanatica, and, later on, Havohej. Profanatica are the cultest of the cult, having released only EPs and splits at sporadic intervals in their existence. They of course gained infamy and ridicule through the gratuitous display of reproductive organs on their album covers. But you see, Paul Ledney was never kidding when he proclaimed Profanatica as “the most blasphemous band on the planet”. While the band’s lyrics and general aesthetic conformed to set patterns of anti-Christian black/death, Profanatica were first and foremost iconoclasts. It is impossible to escape the feeling of utter disregard for all manner of convention that pervades the band’s work. Everything from the band’s artwork to Ledney’s condescendingly throat-shredding growls convey absolute disdain for everything that anybody holds sacred. I get the feeling that they’d as soon be singing glorified hymns to paedophilia if it meant getting a rise out of the sensitive. It is hard to come by that kind of fervour in today’s extreme metal scene and while many bands put out cosmetic reproductions of a lost style, very few capture the essence of danger that made the earliest, primitive explosions of hate and rage so compelling.
Musically speaking, Profanatica play a hybrid of black and doom-laden death metal. They really are an exercise in startlingly effective simplicity. Songs contain, on average, about 3-4 basic riffs. Tremolo picked notes serve as the basic template over which Ledney hurls his rabid diatribes. Often there are times when one can hear a guitar and nothing else buzz by itself before the rest of the instruments come in. Doom riffs bearing the Incantation hallmark step in at regular junctions and flesh out the dynamics of the music.
Speaking of Incantation, they truly are a huge presence on all Profanatica and if you’re any kind of Incantation fan, you’ll know it when the patented bits come in. It would be unfair to make a call on who influenced who since there must have been a fair amount of osmosis when the two bands started out. Be that as it may, Ledney distinguishes his band from his former colleagues by bringing in a pronounced black metal nuance to the table, more evolved melodic credentials, which by the way are used only in the service of the sinister, and by employing vocals far better than Incantation have ever had, Craig Pillard and Daniel Corchado notwithstanding. He sounds deranged, foaming-at-the-mouth, and utterly bereft of all compassion, and human notions of decency and morality. It’s a silly and seemingly innocuous thing to scream “I’ll tear this fucking religion to the ground” (‘Betrayal of the Lamb’) but you’d be hard pressed to call his bluff on it and you’d be hard pressed to suppress the chill that climbs down your spine when the chants-in-reverse ring out as the song ends. This is the same guy that sang ‘Dethrone the Son of God’. People familiar with that piece of blasphemy will be most pleased to know that the passing of a couple of decades hasn’t tampered with the sheer feral quality in his voice.
With ‘Profanatitas de Domonatia‘, Profanatica have regurgitated one of the vilest and most unholy slabs of black/death this decade and have done no harm whatsoever to the aura of mystery that surrounds them. All fans of primitive, minimalistic, and blasphemous metal should seek this out. Let the black ejaculation begin.