Even though many ardent black metal supporters consider Swedish Naglfar to be Norsecore, especially as of late, I have always liked this if not the most prolific then, at least, very profound band. From their blackened folk beginnings of Vittra to the Entombed tinged Diabolical to the malicious and turbulent Sheol, the Swedes were as steadfast as their moniker indicates (the ship on which the Gods will face their mortal dark enemies on the day of Ragnarok). Having listened once to their latest 2005 effort Pariah I noticed two changes, the vocals were more one-dimensional and it was as if the band tried overly hard to convince the listener that they are the baddest, the most destructive force in modern black metal. With drums set way too high in the mix, Pariah was an attempt to evilize Sheol further, while in the process losing its darkened core. I admit I did not connect the two changes at the moment, but later on I began to wonder whether Jens Ryden’s departure, even though it was education reasons related and amicable, had anything to do with the attitude.
Jens tried his hand at the solo project outside of the Naglfar lore before. Few may know this effort, but I am the proud owner of Dead Silent Slumber Entombed in the Midnight Hour. In it Jens displayed quite a bit of propensity towards symphonic edge of black/death metal with bubbling keyboards and synthesizers, title track featuring female vocals and his voice, even though remaining the trademark choked off howl, bringing an undeniable vampiric quality. All in all, it was Cradle of Filth done way better on lesser budget.
Staying away from Naglfar did not apparently diminished Jens’ drive to contribute to the black metal realms, and thus we now have Profundi, the project, where, again, Jens handles everything by himself. The last thing, however, I can call The Omega Rising is symphonic black metal. On the opposite, if anything, this is return to the roots, to the days of the beginning of Dissection, to the days when fast playing black metal music did not mean blasting away, but instead froze the listener’s soul with swarming and buzz-cutting guitar riffery.
The Omega Rising manages to be hungrier and more menacing than Pariah with Storm of the Light’s Bane/Vittra melodies lurking underneath every song. This icy melodic vortex co-exists with a powerful bottom end, and even very few synthesizers going point-counterpoint with a neighboring solo do not obscure the overwhelming guitar dominance (Unanimation, Coffinborn). My personal melodic crowning achievement on The Omega Rising comes in the form of Russian melody driven Split-Tongued. This music is fast, but also presenting an overwhelming amount of pitch-black soul, akin to that same old Dissection (I can’t get over this reference, can I?), old Gorgoroth and old Immortal, minus the incessant tremolo of the riffs. The record never becomes monotonous, because Jens knows when to slow down a little to flesh out the muscle wound guitars (the title track) or to go with a timely and mysterious piano interlude in the form of Silent Hosts of Decay. This is a maniacal and demonic music, at times becoming a full Black Mass due to a synth barging in on the solo (Of Flesh & Blood) or sounds of decrepit body being nailed to the cross amidst the boiling tar (Out of the Evening Mist).
Jens’ voice is not a scream of a single demon. Instead, he is an army of them, lashing the ears with the overlapping howling shrieks and deeper bellows, even creating the sense of simulated choir in Silent Hosts of Decay. All of these voices are unrelenting, throwing the brain against the cranium, driving home the Satanic message of the album’s lyrics.
You would never guess that Profundi is a one-man band, the music is so full, the sound and production so voluminous. In addition, Jens even handled logo design, graphic layout and black-red-and-gray booklet illustrations all by himself. The Omega Rising is a truly complete package.
Even though I suspect there is no competition between Profundi and Naglfar I have to score The Omega Rising to Pariah as 1 to 0. Profound Lore Records scored a coup with Profundi, and even though one can’t speak bad of the dead, this is what many thought reborn Dissection would sound like.
Killing Songs :
Unanimation, Split-Tongued, Coffinborn
|Alex quoted 91 / 100|
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