Interview: Paul Ledney of Profanatica Bears His ‘Crux Simplex’

You can’t discuss pioneers of U.S. black metal without mentioning Profanatica. Founding member Paul Ledney has concocted a distinct style for the project starting in 1990, coming off his stint with death metal icons Incantation. But even though the band was leaving their blasphemous mark on the genre for decades, it wasn’t until recently that Ledney, the lead vocalist and drummer, reined in Profanatica’s potential.

“We’ve been around since 1990, doing stuff sporadically, but it was in 2016, when Profanatica played Hell’s Headbash is when I made the decision,” begins the veteran. “It was actually my wife who said, ‘You have to do this steady and do it for real, get new guys and start working at it.” The expression “better late than never” applies aptly to the surge in output from the unholy trailblazer.

“I got a new lineup,; we’re able to play more shows, and we got it so close to how it’s supposed to be right now,” Ledney boasts. It’s not that he didn’t take his promising craft seriously before; he simply couldn’t find the right bandmates and resources to keep the band consistently active. His wife reminded him of his capability, as he recalls, “She was blaming me at that time, saying, ‘You can’t just do one album every couple of years whenever you feel like it.’ She could see how good it could be, had we not done it half-assed.”

There’s nothing half-assed about Ledney’s approach on Profanatica’s new album Crux Simplex, which translates to simple cross. “There are 10 songs on it–brand-new material–and each song is based on the first ten stations of the cross,” begins the ambitious songwriter, “In each song, there’s a small reference to what’s coming next, which was a little bit of a pain in the ass for me to do once I thought of it. We put more time into this–how the songs run into each other and the general feel.”

The general feel around Profanatica’s material has always been sacrilegious, but generally toward Christianity. Ledney divulges his opinion on this subject matter which  has garnered the band its passionate following, “All organized religion is a business, not just Christianity, but for some strange reason, certain ones are protected and certain ones are okay to attack.” Delving further into his disdain for theology, he declares, “The hypocrisy is something I can’t get behind, and that’s been the theme of my life.”

Recognizing disingenuous entities is a skill Ledney has developed over the years. As such, he applies it to distinguishing posers in the black metal scene. “People say old guys like myself are gatekeeping, but we could tell if somebody’s phony-baloney or not—how clean their patches are, how nicely they’re arranged on their battle vest is, like, one sign, know what I mean?”

Whether true or not, the shrewd sage also feels there is segregation in metal, stating, “I think more labels have been put on it, where in the past, you could have a punk band that might be kinda dirty or very heavy and could definitely play on the same bill as a black metal band and a death metal band without all the separation. Everything’s more separated now, and it’s all kinda the same shit, at least in the U.S.”

This statement falls in line with Ledney’s provocative opinion that U.S. black metal was interchangeable with U.S. death metal in those early days. And when you listen to Crux Simplex, its barbarism and lack of melody compared to Scandinavian black metal backs his viewpoint. Profanatica have and will always remind the metal world how U.S. black metal differentiates itself.

Crux Simplex is out now from Season of Mist Records. Follow Profanatica on Facebook for future updates.

Photo courtesy of J. Donovan Malley

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