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The original enemies of virtue - 75%

TheSpirit, October 16th, 2019

Black metal landed on the shores of the United States during the early 80’s in the form of four burly football-y looking dudes from Los Angeles, but it wasn’t until 1990 when drummer Paul Ledney exited then death metal up-and-comers Incantation that it really found a vessel in this country. Though the seeds of Norway’s infamous second wave were also sprouting at this time, Profanatica’s birth and claim of the term “black metal” was essentially unrelated and unaware of its sister scene gestating in the East. And it’s because of this that Profanatica took the sound of their spiritual ancestors and contorted it into their own visage of black metal, equally as blasphemous but tonally distinct from their European cousins. The Norwegian’s large[r] scale extracurriculars certainly directed most of the world's attention to Scandinavia, but Profanatica were scandalous in their own way, wielding depravity and vulgarity to evoke a more guttural and repulsive sound than their wight-ly relatives.

And repulsive really is the only way to describe Putrescence of... / As Tears of Blood Stain the Altar of Christ. It's the sound of pure black metal filtered through musicians who had played thrash and death metal for the last decade. Profanatica’s hellish rumble may not have had the mystical atmosphere of their Norwegian counterparts, but it was covered in just as much piss and *** as the musicians who performed it. Which by the way, was a lot. "The Raping of Angels" is audial filth at its most undeterred, a subterranean snaking sewer line carrying tuneless tremolos and phlegmy rasps in its current. It perhaps wasn't the first time these elements - doom-y Celtic Frost dirges, Hellhammer-esque satanic invocations and Sarcofago-like bestiality - have tortured ears, but it certainly up to this point was the most extreme. Despite all inclinations to simplify and disgust this was a boundary pushing sound at the time, a convocation of undesirable traits that would soon define a burgeoning movement already in the making.

It's been near thirty years since Putrescence of... / As Tears of Blood Stain the Altar of Christ debuted, and though it's not even close to American black metal's finest hour - or even Profanatica's - it is still essential to USBM's canon. The exact origins of black metal in America has been and always be will be hotly debated; Chalk it up to poor record keeping or the underground actually achieving its goal of exclusion to the "unworthy". But no matter what conversation is being had, Profanatica's name is always in the running, and it was Putrescence… that put them there.