The new Profanatica album is dramatic and evocative. A more conscious sense of melody has transformed this band from unremitting hate organ to one that now creates heaving, breathing narratives. The rhythmic structures from the band’s minimalist past still stand, however, complementing them is the well-rounded sophistication that time affords, and a second, more tragic voice conveying a pathos of almost Gothic proportion.
Fancy reading all that in a Profanatica review, but the album is, nevertheless, a credible attempt at meaningful diversification by an uncompromising band deep in their discography. Thy Kingdom Cum saw the advent of more pronounced death metal accents in playing technique; building on the foundation of Incantation-style dark music that Paul Ledney co-created twenty-five years ago, that album employed a judicious blend of tempos and harmonically ambivalent riff-punctuation not seen since the Havohej debut, and which Immolation, in turn, brought to its logical conclusion on Here In After.
The Curling Flame Of Blasphemy amplifies this aspect of rhythmic adventure; elements of groove and syncopation, again based very much in the Immolation mold, fight for space with the band’s traditional, streamlined tremolo-based attack. But even as I write this – and the album is playing as I do – I cast a glance at what was written before, and a stray thought interrupts and won’t let me go any further: Profanatica, and Havohej (at least on Dethrone the Son Of God), have always been bands of fractured narratives. Many are the occasions when a certain, developed section is relinquished for no apparent reason other than as subject to the author’s whim. The irreverent context on which Profanatica base their premise allows this flagrancy to pass unapprehended, even achieving an iconoclastic quality all its own. But it’s been there all along, and it’s present on this album, too. As listeners, we have simply chosen to ignore it for the nihilistic thrill of plummeting from one depth to another.
‘The Curling Flame‘ is the reiterating, funereal climax to the album, posing a rare moment for reflection: what strange music, Profanatica and their ilk, to listen to, to enjoy. Unadmitting of the slightest levity, stripped of all conventional beauty, struggling to meet the barest standards of composition under an almost masochistic restraint, theirs, if anything, is an unmusic which engenders a very real sense of dissociation in the listener, an acute awareness of just how removed he is, in his bubble, in that moment, from the stuff of routine. This Profanatica album may be marginally more accessible than their previous work but much of its mission statement still remains a musical negation of candy-coated reality. In that negation, then, we find the answer to who we are, as metalheads, and, if you apply the same idea to life at large, as people. Not ostriches with heads buried in sand, but people, involved in a continuous dialectic with themselves and their world.