Svart Crown // Profane
Rating: 4.5/5.0 — More potent. More powerful. More oppressive.
Label: Listenable Records
Websites: Facebook.com/pages/SVART-CROWN | Myspace.com/svartcrown
Release Dates: EU: Out now! | NA: 06.18.2013

cover_lCast your mind back to Feb 2011 when Steel Druhm came across what he referred to as a particularly ‘insane, claustrophobia inducing, vicious, ugly, hateful’ blackened death album by brutal French metallers, Svart Crown. Witnessing the Fall quickly worked its filthy, sharp claws into Steel Druhm’s brain, battering and shredding his grey matter in a way that Behemoth and Belphegor have rarely done – it takes some pretty dark shit to get that right believe me!

And as for Madam X, well what can I say, she’s a little hard-arsed and a loyal Behemoth fangirl, and where Nergal goes she’ll surely follow as the saying goes. What I’m hinting at, is that it took me a while to get stuck into Svart Crown, and it was only very recently that I hit play on Witnessing the Fall. Despite my best attempts at Behemoth-loyalty, as the tension built up in “Where the Light Ends” followed by, as Steel Druhm so aptly describes it, the violence and venom of “Colosseum” I can’t argue that Svart Crown proudly walk a path of darkened death less travelled. Their brand of metal holds just enough similarities to Belphegor and/or Behemoth, but added to that are moments comparable to Septicflesh, Morbid Angel, Incantation and even Deathspell Omega. Svart Crown have a level of abhorrent and nasty that’s all their own, meaning that their offering is not for the feint-hearted and this has my expectation levels for Profane kicked right on up into high gear!

Profane follows the same recipe as Witnessing the Fall, launching with the soul-sucking wall-of-noise, instrumental “Manifestatio Symptoms”. The track perfectly conveys genuine desolation and the sickness of humanity and it leaves me feeling a sense of hopelessness I normally only get from listening to Shining (Swedish). The real deviation in style between Svart Crown‘s earlier work and Profane is in the addition of a more progressive element. This is showcased in “Genesis Architect” and the title track and it makes Profane a shit-load harder to get into straight off the bat. I’m glad Svart Crown stuck to their tried and tested formula with only this level of progression added.  It’s served them well in the past and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

Vocals are still under the masterful control of JB Le Bail. Tracks like “Genesis Architect” and “Until the last Breath” scream JB’s talent for mixing a Nergal-like guttural rasp with a shrieky, howling roar that’s dreadful and wrenchingly beautiful all at the same time, and I’m almost sure it holds the power to curdle the blood right there in your veins. Profane‘s packed to the brim with guitar riffs (courtesy of JB and Clément Flandrois) that show the middle finger to life, from the crawling, doomy opener of “Until the last Breath” to the punishing, ferocity of “Intern.Virus.Human” and “In Utero: A Place of Hatred and Threat”. Nicolas Muller (ex live drummer for black metallers Otargos) has no trouble providing the heavy-handed blast beat assault that’s at the heart of Profane. His drum fills are captivating and varied and it’s his efforts on the ritualistic, primal sounding “Venomous Ritual” that’s raised the track high up on my list of favorites.

photo3Recorded, mixed and mastered by Francis Caste (Facedown, Kickback, Arkhon Infaustus, Phazm), he’s used a production style on Profane that’s massively organic and much improved on Witnessing the Fall. Gone are the annoying drumming oddities and muting lows that sometimes plagued their last album and Profane feels like an evil, living, breathing infant tearing its way out of the womb, desperate to brutally ravage your hearing and your cranium.

Svart Crown placed much emphasis on the feel and atmosphere of Profane, achieving a better balance or distribution in brutality than they had on Witnessing the Fall. There are no drop-off’s or weak tracks to speak of on Profane and where plodding, doomy interludes are nestled in between slimy death metal riffs these interludes are kept brief and well placed and your attention never dwindles off. Svart Crown has very successfully arrived at 44 minutes of bruising testimony of a world going to hell!