[Cover art by Nether Temple Design]
Profane Order have made quite a name for themselves in the corner of metal where Blasphemy reigns supreme, where altars to the likes of Archgoat are constructed beneath a tapestry of red, black, and white album covers. It’s a corner where ritual fires burn the names Conqueror and Proclamation into the continued metal lexicon with fierce devotion. It is also a corner where there’s a tendency for the bullet belt and sunglass budget to trump the recording budget, and where only one (or two, if the subject in question smoked weed instead of hitting the gym that one time) Beherit albums are acknowledged to exist.
Point being: undiluted war metal can be a pretty limiting genre. Genre drug-of-choice aside, it really is a cocaine hit: There’s diminishing returns to its effectiveness. One (two, if you’re really good) albums and maybe an EP or split for a quick rush of pure adrenaline, but rarely does such uncut worship hold a shelf life of much longer than that at best. With very few exceptions, the high tends to have a sharp drop in returns, like scrounging for scraps in the carpet in a pathetic chase for what was once achieved.
And war metal never looks good when it’s on its knees.
Rather than belittling themselves to scrounging for scraps of past glories, Profane Order’s next move keeps them planted firmly on their feet by sharpening their death metal edge even further. The title of their sophomore full-length, One Nightmare Unto Another, rings true. It’s an almost entirely different beast that remains rooted in the tradition of the band’s idols of worship. No intro, no atmospheric build, no bullshit – Profane Order go straight for the throat with opener “In The Shadows Of The Past.” The drums fire off .50-cal rounds with delightfully oiled precision, providing a comforting feeling of reliable, mechanical recoil to the onslaught.
The vocals have moved away from the wetter, more Archgoat-styled rumble of Slave Morality and returned to the Black Witchery-esque dry throat scorching of Tightened Noose. It seems a loss until “No Light Here” hits–there’s no way the lower register vocals would deliver as well across the blazing coals of that song without being consumed by their flames, particularly with the defying cry of the final track. Meanwhile, there’s an edge of technicality brewing that’s easy to lose in the furor – an edge that continues to sharpen as the Nightmare continues to unfold.
The first two tracks serve as landmarks for devoted fans of the band and the style, but the direction of the album really takes hold on “A Sombre Passage.” Club-dragging Cannibal Corpse riffs are force fed triple rations of Pervitin and hurled into the front to meat the hammering artillery of the rhythm division. The guitar tone drips with the gore and pus of old school death metal scorched over the fires of black metal hell. The production is brings everything out beautifully–it’s loud as fuck without sacrificing dynamics. The downtrend strings of the bass can be felt reverberating like earth-shattering mortal rounds, and the guitar scrapes blister across the soundscape on “Suppression” like blasts of searing liquid napalm.
The back half of the record is where things really come together. The galloping riffs on “Pernicious Scum” sound like the apocalyptic arrival of ungodly artillery looming on the horizon, setting Profane Order up to rein hellfire on “Seething” with some blistering solo work. Trading back and forth, the guitars scream out over the assault, bringing the war and death elements to their violent conclusions on “Of Bile and Malice.”
One Nightmare Unto Another shows Profane Order refusing to kneel–they throw just enough variety into the mix to keep their sound fresh and exciting, and it pays off for invested fans and for new listeners alike. Death metal fans that would normally raise a skeptical eye towards the more bestial side of the genre are strongly urged to give this a go. After all, death is the ultimate conclusion of all war.
Comes out Friday. Hit the weights, eat your veggies, memorize your restoration spells, and sleep with two crew-served weapons under your pillow because this Nightmare has some serious fucking chompers.