By: Steve Fallows

Profanatica |  facebook |  bandcamp | 

Released on July 22, 2016 via Hells Headbangers

New York City may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of black metal, but the big apple has seen two of the most primitive and blasphemous acts that the genre has produced, both of them lead by Paul Ledney (drums, vocals). As well as his solo Havohej project, he has collaborated with John Gelso (guitars, bass) on Profanatica material on and off since their formation in 1990, and bar a nine-year hiatus, they have been despoiling all that is holy ever since.

With black metal flourishing in many different forms over the last few years, it is refreshing to hear something harks bark to those dark days of the early nineties. From the feedback soaked intro that welcomes opener ‘Ordained in Bile’, it’s not long before the band fall into a muddy, distorted dirge that has been their signature throughout their long career. Ledney adds his rasping, strangulated vocals to make a thoroughly unpleasant (and intentionally so) listen. ‘March to Golgotha’ follows, and follows a similar blasphemous pattern, despite its much shorter running time. The first real change of approach comes during ‘Magic & Muhr’, which features a much slower and heavier intro with a huge filthy bass line driving it along, before it settles back to a more usual pace.

The second half of the album continues in this fashion, and just as the first few tracks, it throws in a shorter track to break it up a little. This time is the the 35 second ‘Vile Blessing’. The last couple of tracks is where the band play their ace card, with ‘Bleed Heavenly Kingdom’ and ‘Curling Flame’ heading into almost Autopsy territory with a slow paced doomy noise drenched in grime and degradation that is quite far removed from much of the earlier tracks, but doesn’t feel out of place at all.

Whilst on the face of it, it appears to be a simple primitive old school black metal release, in The Curling Flame Of Blasphemy Ledney and Gelso have produced a complex and intriguing album that only adds to their already legendary status on the underground USBM scene. The production hides a lot of the subtleties (and that is a word I never thought I would use when it came to a Paul Ledney project) on the first listen. On repeated listens, you find more and more going on in the background. As nasty and as raw as anything they have spewed out in the past, but with new ideas and structures thrown in for good measure.

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