Album Review: Profanatica – Crux Simplex

4/5

The label “blackened death metal” gets slapped on tons of bands, but have you ever come across a single “deathened black metal” band? Profanatica may be your first, and better late than never. The American black metal pioneers have been defiling everything sacred since the Bush presidency, and that’s Bush Senior.

Crux Simplex, the duo’s sixth full-length, is another formidable representation of their distinctly regional style. European black metal is synonymous with its dark, storied, and melancholic roots; U.S. black metal is just plain evil. This particular 10-track concept album scoffs at the first 10 stations of the cross, with the first half’s worth of songs being told from Jesus Christ’s perspective.

“Condemned to Unholy Death” sets the mood with cryptic synths, traveling back in time to the historic event. Its riffs are blasphemous, and the sound is reminiscent of early ’90s goregrind. Founding member, drummer, and lead vocalist Paul Ledney’s blood-curdling scream narrates the action elegantly.

“Take Up the Cross’s” slithery tremolo riffs get in on the act, generating imagery of serpents surrounding and plotting. You’ll catch Ledney transforming into a dehydrated demon in “The First Fall,” as he takes a vocal lead over drums at the tail end. The track’s main groove is morbidly seductive via his bell cymbal rolls, jangling a hypnotic spell.

“Compelled By Romans” is a doomy antagonizer. Rung-out chords and deepened vocals convey its wicked message. One then has to acknowledge the blatant disrespect behind “Wipe the Fucking Face of Jesus.” The title alone is offensive enough, let alone its hectic down-beat blasts and sinful breakdown.

The tremolo riff in the chorus of “The Third Fall” almost mimics the heavy-breathing Christ must have been laboring through by this endpoint in his mortal journey. Ledney’s “fuck your weak flesh” vocal intro to the release’s closer, “Division of Robes,” lays one of the final insults down. The record concludes with noble synths, choruses, horns, and chimes. It’s a humbling end.

Profanatica aren’t pulling any punches on this record; the lyrical concepts are as vitriolic and storytelling as they come. The malevolent vibes ring true throughout the entire composition—no rest for the wicked here. Grab Crux Simplex, the latest spit in the face of organized religion by Paul Ledney, when it releases on September 22 via Season Of Mist Records.

Buy the album here.

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