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!

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  • And yet another 4.5 for a BM album. I’m glad the new writers brought a fresh view on the genre, I used to felt a little dread on coming to AMG to check opinions on BM releases.

    • If it makes you feel any better, I think BM sucks and I hate Svart Crown.

      • Cesse

        Why the dislike of Svart Crown? Just curious, always like your reviews even if I don’t agree all the time.

      • Well, I guess that gives me comfort.

      • Since when do you hate black metal??

    • Leroy

      Actually, I’m starting to get black/blackened death fatigue at AMG lately. Maybe it’s just a Madam X thing, but seems like you have to sound like Septicflesh, Septicflesh, or Septicflesh to get reviewed around here…

      • To be fair, they review what they get sent promos for. That has been a staple for this site since I can remember.

        • Leroy

          I appreciate that, and its a credit to AMG & Co. I have, however, become tired lately of reading how good an album is because its in the same vein as Septicflesh. Search said band using the AMG search function and you’ll come up with 7 releases since the start of the year (3 in the last month alone) that reference Septicflesh – all of which were reviewed by Madam X…

      • We review all sorts of death metal. Some say all we do is review death metal. Now some say all we do is review Septicflesh-themed death metal. You crazy kids…

        • Kevin

          The only thing you guys review anymore is whatever you just reviewed in the last 24 hours. It’s getting ridiculous.

          This comment will always be relevant.

          • hubcapiv

            Seems like all you do is review (obscure sub-genre 1). Why don’t you ever review any (obscure sub-genre 2)?

            And when are you going to review the new (ultra-obscure band)? What do you have against them?

          • Ah, the life of the unpaid metal blogger. Glamorous, ain’t it?

        • Leroy

          Your search function is enlightening…

        • Kalsten

          I remember the times where the comments were like “here at AMG only review Death Metal, we are tired of only death metal”, and hell, now we could complain about too much stoner/doom metal all over the site, but c’mon, I still love this site :)

    • Yep, I’ve bashed my share of BM and I regret nothing!

      • Wouldn’t want it any other way! You guys bring a lot of honesty to the game and I think I speak for a lot of people that are grateful for that!

  • hubcapiv

    It helps that Svart Crown is really….good.

    FWIW this is yet another band that I would have ignored if not for this site’s positive review of Witnessing the Fall. So thanks!

  • OzanCan

    Can this one really top the Witnessing the Fall?
    Witnessing the Fall was some sick shit which insistingly stuck in my mind and never let its ravenous claws from my ears and my being as well…
    Even though I am a devout fan of Summoning, I’ll sure give it a listen m/

    • Pierre Decibel

      You need few listening to get really into it. There’s more information than the Witnessing album . I think it’s their best album because it’s not an easy one.

  • Kalsten

    I have been listening to it in Spotify to my way to work today and I don’t see as a great album. I think it is an OK work (I would give it a 3.0 or maybe a 3.5), but I think that last Hate album was far better than this one.

    But it could be a grower, who knows. But I don’t really see the “progressive” elements on it.

  • Worst. Name. Ever.

    • mike gager

      i think its a pretty cool name. black crown

  • Excentric_1307

    I’m not getting any Septicflesh-ey-ness from this album thus far. Just sayin’.

    • Blackened death feel sans orchestras?

      • Excentric_1307

        People are going to think I’m nuts, but I’m getting more of a slower “Pheonix amongst the Ashes” vibe from it.

        • I can hear that too now that you mention it.

  • Tig bitties!

  • Kalsten

    It is going to be funny if this record is selected as Record of the Month, then we will have one big boobie at each side of the blog itself :P

  • Here’s Johnny

    saw this band live with nile and had to pick up the album. pretty solid stuff ,nothing spectacular though. as someone mentioned last Hate album was far better than this. def lot of potential here though. 3 out of 5 for me.