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Profanatica > Thy Kingdom Cum > Reviews
Profanatica - Thy Kingdom Cum

Audacity beyond words - 97%

we hope you die, October 8th, 2020

Profanatica are by now a pillar of American black metal and need little preamble. A brief flash in the pan formed from members of Incantation in the early 90s was kept on life support by drummer and mastermind Paul Ledney and his solo project Havohej. Early material from their ‘Tormenting Holy Flesh’ EP (1992) was rerecording on the ‘Dethrone the Son of God’ album (1993) as Havohej. The project could have been buried entirely after this point. But Ledney decided his creative impetus could not be encapsulated entirely under the Havohej moniker, which was heading in a much more experimental direction by the 2000s. So Profanatica was resurrected in 2001. Output was slow in coming however. ‘Profanatitas de Domonatia’ released in 2007 with original guitarist John Gelso. This was a heavier, brooding, and creepy form of primitive black metal take shape with a truly other-worldly atmosphere. The follow up, 2010’s ‘Disgusting Blasphemies Against God’ was – as the name suggests – a much blunter beast, stripping back the glumness for the sake of single-minded nihilism.

But it’s 2013’s ‘Thy Kingdom Cum’ which interests us here. And we’ll say straight up that this is some of the best works from this artist, and possibly ever from Paul Ledney’s entire output. It seemed to come from nowhere when considered in the light of material from this artist both before and since. ‘Thy Kingdom Cum’ is a chromatic jigsaw of jagged, two or three note riffs, straightforward drum patterns, and sporadic minimal disharmonies. The guitar tone reflects the need to accentuate the clarity and sharpness to the riffs. Gone is the bass heavy tone of previous releases in favour of a crystal-clear distortion. The drums have cut away all reverb. This is a beast of precision and activity, not atmosphere. It could be likened to Deicide’s ‘Legion’ in its manipulation of rudimentary chord progressions that sound more like finger exercises to enhance muscle strength than anything remotely artistic. These simple patterns gradually accumulate through a meticulous blend of repetition and variation, and shifting rhythms. Indeed, the guitars lay down the rhythmic backbone of the music, leaving Ledney’s primitive but unmistakable skin pounding to firm up the core texture rather than keep time.

Sometimes this approach is frankly so outrageous it’s difficult to encapsulate the audacity in words. For instance on the track ‘Definite Atonement’, which opens with a riff that could have been written by placing a cat on a keyboard, and transposing the resulting collection of notes to guitar; before completely tearing apart the tight tempos into a looser, droning beast with abrasive, unstable leads signposting the way through. And that’s the story of the whole album. It harnesses the untamed elements of music that exists beyond tonal centres (and sanity) into something that makes sense to our ears. It does this by forcing them into ruthless rhythmic discipline regiments, and pulling the results together into track structures that feel as if they should be familiar somehow. Intro, bridge, outro, these elements are all present, but they are formed from note clusters that have no business being placed next to one another. It’s a truly fascinating approach to atonal black metal that was sadly not expanded upon on the two follows ups ‘The Curling Flame of Blasphemy’ (2061) and ‘Rotting Incarnation of God’ (2019) which have seen Profanatica play down these techniques for the sake of blunt brutality once more.

This is a shing example of an approach to black metal that remains unique to the US despite antecedents in Finland and Canada. It is superficially basic, and seems to rely on vibe more than the intricacy of composition. Well, that’s one way of looking at it, but if you pop the hood open you will notice there is far more going on in the mechanics of this music in order to achieve this sound. This makes it a style that is surprisingly difficult to imitate. This hasn’t stopped people from trying, but they invariably miss the tricks to creating these underlying layers, that in turn open up the hidden depths where the real magic of this album can found. It hints at the true breadth of expressive range still available in black metal, and what could possibly still be achieved in this framework. For that reason, it should be held up as an exemplar in its field. ‘Thy Kingdom Cum’ remains an album unlike any other. This comes with a caveat however. Ledney may be doing interesting things with Havohej, but the last two Profanatica albums – whilst not terrible – have seen a drop in ambition. But none of this changes the fact that ‘Thy Kingdom Cum’ is the pinnacle of his and Gelso’s achievement, and represents some of the best output from an American outfit in this arena in general.

Originally published at Hate Meditations

An Unexpected Late Triumph - 90%

TheDean, December 2nd, 2015

Thy Kingdom Cum is not an immediate album by any means. Once the imagery has sunk in, it is revealed to be one of their more compelling outputs, just under 2007’s Profanatitas De Domonatia but well, well above 2010’s Disgusting Blasphemies Against God.

The previous full length, DBAG, can be characterized as an act of creation due to each track feeling reminiscent of an emotional crescendo imbued with a sense of uncertainty and awe. In this context, Thy Kingdom Cum can be characterized as looking back on that work with glee. The predominant construction is technique is playfulness through the patchwork assembly of ideas which seemingly have little relationship to one another and yet function as a coherent whole during execution. The artists inject nuance via feedback, pick sliding, psuedo-divebombs, drone and seemingly innocuous notes of melody underneath the music, often during a track’s apex; indicating a professionalism and high degree of inspiration. The whole of this record is not a sum of its parts, it is composed of highly distinct tracks which are sonically and thematically cohesive without being dependent on one another to reach significance.

This record is the perfect length for a metal record standing somewhere around the thirty minute mark leaving the listener with a desire for more music having not overstayed nor overstated itself. Brevity often has the tendency to be understated as well; fortunately, Profanatica has provided an experience which is both whole and complete.

The wholly modern production provides depth, body and character while achieving a wholly unique aesthetic character; it is a high mark for the genre. This record manages to remain full and organic while retaining the clarity you expect from a digitally produced and recorded album.

Initially this material and the preceding EP Sickened By Holy Host felt dissatisfying on the rhythmic front. Profanatica is long known for Ledney's idiosyncratic, almost ritualistic but highly energetic drumming. The near absence of said during initial impressions implied that he became bored or lazy on this record. Overtime it becomes clear how out of place that sort of drumming would sound next to the rest of the music: awkward and distracting. Though a shadow of its former self, the instrument is well integrated into each track, forgiving any broken links to the past.

Compared to the preceding album, the bass has lost its dominant position in favor of a highly melodic approach which leaves the instrument in a subservient role but not neglected. As a skeleton, it serves its purposes in a supportive role which only occasionally accents the motif.

The uncomfortable nature of many individual riffs are intensely off-putting initially; but perhaps that is the point. This record isn't about hate nor does it wish to impart any morbid pleasure on its audience. This record is a celebration through mockery and arrogance. It jeers more than it is meant to jab. In a way, Thy Kingdom Cum is a reflection on the achievements of black metal, but it also takes noticeable stabs at its conventions. Familiar genre tropes are contorted and conceived as oppositional where the target of ridicule is no longer merely Christianity, but metal itself.

Thy Kingdom Cum is black metal the way nobody wanted to hear it; marking a return to the same sense of purpose which drove Profanatica’s pseudo debut in the form of Havohej’s brilliant 1993 Dethrone the Son of God - which mostly consisted of re-recorded Profanatica tracks. While rest of the scene languishes in misguided traditionalism, failed revivalism and sterile experimentation, Thy Kingdom Cum manages to harvest one of the last hanging fruits of its genre. 9/10

The nuns have done it again - 87%

Storfeth, December 29th, 2013

It took three years for Profanatica to release their third full-length album. Disgusting Blasphemies Against God was decent, but sounded slightly inferior to my ears compared to its predecessor because of the lack of inspiration at some points. But in their recent work, I have to admit that they sound refreshed and the result is way better.

Starting from the album artwork, it differs significantly from their previous releases and there have been some negative comments. But I’m totally fine with it since it has the essential “cult” character and serves its purpose really well. As for the music, the 40-second noisy intro sounds like an intervention from hell. The opening riff of “Raptureholyhymen” begins and the thin, diseased sound of the guitar fills the atmosphere. The musical structure is relatively similar for all the tracks. The pace mostly follows a mid to fast-tempo, with a steady and firm rhythm section having the starring role without a doubt. Of course some slow, crushing parts could not be missing, with a characteristic example at “Defining Atonement”. Now, regarding Paul Ledney, except for his venomous vocals he performs greatly at the drums as well. One of my favorite moments from this album is near the middle of the homonym song, when he interrupts the music just to play a filthy, black ‘n’ roll drum beat and then everything continues from the point they stopped. After 33 minutes the same noisy outro sounds, and the intervention is over.

Apart from the composition details, I have to emphasize on the memorability of the guitar riffs. Literally from the first listen they were imprinted in my mind and the album was constantly on repeat. Also I noticed that the production is relatively rawer and the bass doesn’t have such a leading role compared to the past releases. It is very clearly audible, but it mostly stays in the background accompanying the guitars.

With this record, Profanatica established even more their position as one of the best bands in the genre. Without having to innovate, they just do what they know best and produce one of the best records of 2013. Just push the play button and inhale the blasphemous, intoxicating gas that fouls the air.

Originally written for: The Lair of Storfeth