A Dissonant Sonic Seige…
SVART CROWN: Profane Review + Stream
Since you’re all probably pretty tired of the grind and -core I’m putting up, I’m gonna pump in some more black and death metal for a few posts. A warning though you can count on plenty more of that regardless so have fun. Speaking of: if you’re waiting on the new Immolation, Ulcerate, or Inquisition then I think you’re gonna want to give this a few spins as well. Might be a bit of a sleeper gem for 2013 or just something really solid. And yes I will be getting to those Abyssal albums sometime soon.
I posted Witnessing The Fall last year not long after I saw Svart Crown support Ulcerate on their first North American tour and was very impressed by both their tight performance and quick, dissonant sonic seige. This french horde has obviously been taking their writing even more seriously in the past three years, fleshing out their influences and strengthening their skills to invoke a distorted vision of dissonant blackened death metal entitled Profane that would make Immolation proud. It’s a surprise and crept out of nowhere a few days back and may end up on my year end list.
Profane is a far more absorbing venture through vigorous, bendy American sounding dissonant black/death metal compared to their more tame (or less colorful maybe, while enjoyable) 2010 record. I say American because instead of feeling more creepy-chaotic like French/European acts Deathspell Omega, Hectic Patterns, Dodecahedron, etc. Svart Crown use Profane to channel the fiery, blasphemeous, and weighty sound of Immolation with a wild, open-stringed blackened discord and pacing of Inquisition. That’s not to say the US doesn’t have it’s share of torrential death chaos (Ævangelist for instance, holy hell) but the other brand is far more recognizable obviously.
When I saw them I definitely experienced a few of the tracks on this record. After hearing Profane not only is it recognizable from that show there’s a much more obvious connection to their pairing with Ulcerate outside of just general friendship. Their previous work contained elements of this yes but here it’s far more developed and infused with the old Morbid Angel era influence — and it’s not without their own semi-modern sour taint gracing the worship which makes it more their own.
Once again it’s a pretty clean record, all the instruments breath comfortably while playing an integral and energetic part in the jagged sorcery on Profane. Loud too. Vile death roars spout cosmic heresies, standard fair but not lacking passion. Guitars are rich, dishing out merciless amounts of scratchy, blazing tremolos and gallops, spectral open dissonance, and bright bends. One channel working the artificial harmonics, chunky rhythms while the other ruptures with ghostly dissonance coupled with a never ending cannon barrage from the new drummer alongside it all, lending a heap of energy to the record. Overall the four of them definitely were working harder towards something on Profane. And from start to finish it doesn’t dip in quality, the 40 or so minutes of twisted death hits just the right spot I think.
There are really only two tracks which slow things down: “Until The Last Breath” which has Inquisition inscribed in it, an intoxicated waltz for three-quarters of it’s run that is pretty groovy, and “The Therapy of Flesh” which starts off like a burst dam, tearing into you with quick, technical blows before settling into a more relaxed, ominous groove. The intro being one of two instrumentals — they’re not wasted on ambient samples though. The opener is a brief glimpse into the cosmic destruction you’re about to walk in to, and “Venomous Ritual” is more of an interlude or prelude to the final chapter of Profane: ceremonial and adding more tribal atmosphere without reliance on woodwind instruments and the like. Everything else is a tight, molten assault quite a few leaps forward from Witnessing The Fall.
The various twists and changes in pacing while keeping with satisfying, off-kilter and jerky thoughtful writing and structuring with strong roots allows shit to continue to flow forcefully despite the ingedients being the same and not necessarily new. The arrangements and execution are gripping all over Profane and translate with exponential passion live. “In Utero: A Place of Hatred and Threat” shows off a more black metal focus for a long while, bursting into occasional frenzied gallops of death. The title track (which is streaming on bandcamp) definitely has a more old-school vibe in the opening seconds of jittery slides but the jump to nervous bends and eventually hanging chords brings it back to the bizarre. Especially that latter sustained high string section, very cold and leads to to nice bridge before the pace builds back up.
While the material is solid across the board here (“Genesis Architect” eases you in nicely) a few songs are particularly awesome. “Intern. Virus. Human” is definitely one of them and it comes early. A track that needs to be turned up without a doubt. The first few moments do not feel remarkable but once you hit like 20 seconds in wow does it become much more. By the time the song is in full swing it sounds like something taken directly off of Immolation’s last record, that huge chunky, stomping hook and that breaks into an ugly thrash morphed from the opening; this whole time the erupting percussion is just burying you, just a vicious hammering from all angles. The pause a few moments later leads to some severely addicting crushing bends that make a return before the end; which is great all by itself.
Then coming up on the tail end we have “Ascetic Purification” (the shortest track) and it throws you for a loop a little on the outset. To me the first thirty seconds almost sound like it’s on the brink of turning into a blackened hardcore tune what with it’s semi-punk pacing but the remainder of it is more merciless distorted savagery, with some tasty pinched harmonics and frantic screams right at the end. I would even say in the final quarter is a moment of brutal death metal slam barbarity amongst the already awesome lashing.
“Revelation: Down Here Stillborn” is the other one that stands out, bleeding directly from “Ascetic Purification”, and it seals the album well. It’s a fucking monster with a lot of memorability. A very grand haze is draped over this song, building and building, dipping from Immolation howling solos and bends and back into more melancholic grooves found in the slower tracks before it. Within the first two minutes there’s a ton of crippling grooves lathered in icy harmonized twangs and it only gets heavier from there. A good and final example of their skill and creativity coming together so well, jumping back and forth in it’s style just enough to not be messy and feel complex without being wanky or boring.
Profane is a surging, polished, far more solidified and interesting effort from Svart Crown combining some of the greatest elements of Inquisition and Immolation (even the earliest Ulcerate) with pretty epic energy. It surprised me a great deal honestly. It’ll hook you but it’s not revolutionary, just very enjoyable for those who love that malshapen sound. And I happen to fall into that category so I’m loving this a ton.
Buy it from Listenable Records in Europe, Season of Mist if you’re in North America (or iTunes apparently); and I would assume eventually direct from the bands store. I highly recommend you do so and follow their updates on tours and shit on facebook as usual.
Scullery master, student of political science, and lover of underground metal/hardcore. Residing on Vancouver Island, whenever possible I photograph and record live/local shows and write about music I enjoy. From 2009-2013 I contributed to the blog Equivoke. I currently curate a new page The Plow Behind You. I play guitar too.
Exclusive Full Album Stream
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