I don’t generally get too excited about black metal. To me, the genre is too much about atmosphere, ideology, and screwing people out of money for rare, but entirely shitty recordings, and not enough about head-banging riffs. However, I was so taken with Ravencult’s last album, 2011’s Morbid Blood, that I gave it the number one spot on my best-of list for that year. Morbid Blood successfully mixed the punk-infused intensity of 80’s black metal with the grimmer, more atmospheric approach of 90’s black metal, and topped it all off with a muscular, modern production. It was then just my luck that, having found that rare black metal band I actually liked, Ravencult would fall off the face of the earth for half a decade. But now, the sojourn in the wilderness has ended; Ravencult have at last returned with a new album in Force of Profanation, and it was worth the wait.
Had Ravencult cranked out another album or two between Morbid Blood and Force of Profanation, I might have been more eager for the band to shake things up, creatively speaking. Given the five year drought, though, I was ready for more of what the band dished out on Morbid Blood, and that’s essentially what the band has delivered with Force of Profanation: more of its own brand of Satanic speed metal.
Having told you that Force of Profanation is in essentially the same vein as its predecessor, I am now going to tell you how it is subtly different. For instance, the album’s opening track, “Tormentor of Flesh”, opens with the same type of tremolo picked riff accompanied by the same blast beats as “Sacrilege of Death”, which opened Morbid blood, and the two tracks continue very much along the same path for the first couple minutes. However, while “Sacrilege of Death” wraps up in under three minutes, “Tormentor of Flesh” runs over a minute longer. “Tormentor” goes through a few more riff permutations, and has a bit more groove in its mid-section. In essence, “Tormentor of Flesh”, and Force of Profanation as a whole, leans a little harder on the metal aspects of the band’s sound, with less emphasis on punk efficiency. A little more modern Darkthrone riff-worship (sans goofiness), a little less 1984 Bathory.
The difference, though, I must emphasize, is subtle. Force of Profanation has its more streamlined compositions, just like Morbid Blood had its more involved tunes. But the overall feel of Force of Profanation is one of slightly less balls-out intensity and slightly more groove.
Less important than the differences between Morbid Blood and Force of Profanation are the similarities. Force is at least 97 percent of the no-bullshit, all-ass-kicking good time that Morbid Blood was. This is music to exercise to. This is music to get speeding tickets to. And by all that is unholy, this is music to bang your friggin’ head to. And that is approximately 100 percent of what I look for in a metal record.