Profanatica are something of a legend within the world of USBM. Initially formed by former members of Incantation all the way back in 1990, Profanatica were one of the first US black metal bands. Yet, after a few years of demoing the band disappeared. By the time they unleashed their first full length in 2007, the whisperings of their demos had faded into myth. Now, with Rotting Incarnation Of God, their fifth LP, the myth of the blasphemers has become a legend. This album represents Profanatica’s strongest work to date and stands as a tormented example of twisted black metal slaughter. It’s over the top and unrelentingly aggressive, but most listeners who pick up a record whose cover depicts an undead nativity scene already understand that.
There is something endlessly appealing to the inner fifteen-year-old in all of us when it comes to tracks like "Mocked, Scourged, and Shit Upon." Profanatica’s desire to spit in the face of organized religion and oppression runs deep through this record. It makes for an album that many metalheads can deeply connect with. Profanatica have no problem going the whole hog, even flirting with metal taboos by using the song title "Broken Jew," in reference to Jesus Christ—this is anti-Christian rather than Nazism—but it displays a misguided indifference with being mistaken for NSBM.
While the lyrics may not always be high art, they do effectively communicate the band’s revulsion with religion. Yes, much of this ground has been trod upon, but there is something to be said for any band that deeply understands and masterfully executes on the lyrical themes that orient the genre. And in Profanatica’s case, their musings on these themes come with enhanced credibility because Profanatica themselves were partially responsible for establishing anti-religion and blasphemy as central to the genre’s ethos. Consequently, launching an album with a song called "Liturgy Of Impurity" is not a try-hard attempt to shock, but rather reaping of the seeds of blasphemy that Profanatica helped sow nearly three decades ago.
Profanatica balance the madness of high-speed black metal with brooding horror. One example of this is the title track, which allows Profanatica to conjure up some of their most vivid soundscapes to date. The synth padding on a track like "Sacramental Cum" gives certain aspects of the record a horror movie vibe, which further cements their connection to old-school extreme metal. The album’s low-fi production – just listen to the blasting drums that punctuate "Eucharist In Ruin" – approaches death metal dungeon levels of rawness. But rather than hold the music back, the unpolished production elevates the album. The raw production shows that Profanatica have not forgotten their underground roots. In some ways, it makes Rotting Incarnation Of God all the more endearing.
Overall, this record is blasphemous and at times a little too edgy for its own good. But in doing so, it harkens back to those mythical Profanatica demos, cut at a time when black metal coalesced as a genre around the idea of creating something that the average music listener would find as unappealing and shocking as possible, both at a musical and lyrical level. The authenticity of Profanatica’s embrace of evil instills the album with a sense of vigor and vitality, which makes Rotting Incarnation of God a compelling listening experience rather than a thirty-year-old band’s trip down memory lane. Rotting Incarnation Of God is a twisted black metal record that knows exactly how to apply a punishing crunch. For listeners who are after that same blasphemous hit that made metal so fun in high school, this record will deliver. Dive on in, the blood is fine.