When Profanatica could not finish their unreleased album, the genius and creator of the band Paul Ledney took time away from the noise of other musicians to fully realize his vision in composing a short album that took the best of his influences from all over the underground into creating something that would show the world the extent of the musical genius that this man possessed and that he was much more than an alumnus of a few great bands. In this final piece in the Craft of Metal series, we look at one album that managed to open new branches for what was to remain of the underground as the Death metal movement had just began to explode with bands getting signed by big labels all over the place and leaving the most repulsive bands to grow far from the spotlight.
The techniques used on this record vary immensely and take influence from the simplistic black metal of the first wave, early death metal bands like Massacre and Revenant (Paul Ledney played briefly in this legendary NYDM band) and the more established and percussive sound produced in the aforementioned area. Such a variety of techniques are held together in elementary melodies; otherwise the compositions would have a carnival effect of attempting to insert too much information into such a small space. Never more than two techniques appear on a single composition so that they don’t impede upon the fluidity of each song. These techniques can be sorted into the following categories:
• Tremolo picked single notes in rapid changing flurries
• Tremolo power chord
• Tremolo picked notes held over a few beats
• Slow power chord progression
• Percussive breakdowns of fourths and power chords
• Slow picked single note melodies
• Pinch harmonics
While in a Death metal context this list of techniques is nothing out of the ordinary and is diminutive for a lot of the more technically proficient bands but in this caveman mixture of Death and Black metal, there are far more than most artists with a similar mindset can manage but Havohej use these only to build melodies held within the already established chromatic/minor scale melodic framework. The note selection is very similar to that of Immolation where most songs here seek to resolve by returning to the root note from a more consonant interval and giving a more fitting sense of resolution than just returning to the root note or as close as possible exclusively through the chromatic scale which is something that has plagued the large of majority bands as this imprisons their musical language. By resolving their melodies through consonance Havohej can then springboard onto other ideas with ease without having to rely on over used devices like the speed metal stop and start. What is entirely unimaginable yet works perfectly is the outright use of the more percussive riffs found in Immolation’s catalogue being used as central pieces in some compositions. Paul Ledney purposefully makes the melody longer while not palm muting as hard so that the notes have more breathing space and that the underlying progression can be heard easily while pushing the rhythm back to a supporting role.
Havohej take the complex and sprawling death metal of New York contemporaries Incantation and Immolation and extract the essence of their sound into short black metal compositions leaving aside the riff mazes and the long narrative arrangements in favor of short and direct arrangements that stood out from the grindcore bands of the time as Havohej does not seek to deconstruct a set of themes but to play upon small variations of a few ideas that resolve in furious catharsis. Fifteen tracks add up to a total of thirty minutes yet every composition manages to achieve cohesion within itself and flows fluidly into the next track barring “Holy Bloody Grail” which is more a build-up piece than anything else as it sticks to one overly simple idea. Though some of the songs are divided into two parts they are united in emotional content rather than any surface traits. The song structures rely on conveying anger, disgust and a call to violence but not in the direct manner that a lot of inferior bands have attempted that ended being monotonous and essentially single-minded bashing of the lower notes on a guitar. Paul Ledney is not one note in his anger and he portrays the various shades associated with such a sentiment by relying heavily on his Death metal instincts of chaining opposing rhythms and cadences in a fluid manner but with the added flair for smoothness in transitions that was brought over from black metal.
Let us look at the track “Weeping In Heaven” that brings to light in very explicit terms Ledney’s intentions for this album. Beginning with a slow crawling ominous riff that owes so much to Black Sabbath and Incantation, building up in anger to the point where the music stops just long enough for the iconic “I vomit on god’s child” that is the catalyst that pushes the music into furious overdrive as fast chromatic melody explodes in every direction. Slowing down into a minor scale riff as the initial fury has passed and is replaced with a more pensive and controlled anger that is accentuated by pinch harmonics that signify the disgust for religion shown here. The music then repeats the previous duality showing the relationship between uncontrollable rage and lucid thoughts of hatred. The composition ends in one climax comprised of previous ideas condensed together played at high speeds as the throat shredding vocals maintain a long scream.
“Behold the Prince of Peace” shows an interesting facet to this band by demonstrating mockery and taunting Christ through the cloak of anger while musically exploring a singular fully developed Bathoryesque idea that seeks to degrade and humiliate in sadistic pleasure. In exactly one minute the song iterates a theme in bursts of single tremolo notes and fast picked power chords playing an interesting progression that becomes longer and more developed until it has reached its full potential and just stops as nothing else needs to be said.
Dethrone the Son of God is an incredible achievement for two main reasons. In a time where underground metal was rapidly progressing from the raw sonic blast of Hellhammer to the complex and sprawling works of Morbid Angel and then reaching into so many different directions with their own unique musical languages, Havohej continue progression not by making their music more complex but by finding their own language in a very large sea and retaining only the most important essence and essentially uniting the opposing Death and Black metal movements into one cohesive whole that remains unmatched to this day both as a work of art and as a textbook on how to unite different strains of metal into an entirely unique and destructive whole.
Tags: Black Metal, havohej, paul ledney, profanatica
35 thoughts on “The Craft of Metal #3 : Dethrone the Son of God”
Havohej is the ultimate blasphemy in music. No human is spared, even Shiva must show up to fan the blaze.
Unrelated question: Why do people think Massacra is thrash metal? Is it because normies think death metal is supposed to sound like Cannibal Corpse and Death?
“Is it because normies think death metal is supposed to sound like Cannibal Corpse and Death?”
Death started in ’83, long before Massacra. They also had full lengths out while the latter was still releasing demos. I love Massacra, but trying to be cool by bashing more popular bands is sad. You’re a normie, too, believe me. Next you’ll be saying that Possessed isn’t real death metal.
Also, Corpse may be playing slightly safer and trendier shit now, but they were truly something special when they first came out. Them, Immolation, Suffocation, Incantation… all of that NY shit made the bands coming out of Europe look silly.
Death fucking sucks cock and contributed nothing to the growth of extreme metal, unless you think rock n roll structures are cool af or something. Possessed are all around better in every way.
Fuck the mother that bore you.
“One month in the grave
twisted and half decayed
She turned a putrid yellow
I pissed in her maggot filled asshole”
Truly special indeed.
Death started as a speed metal band with Venom-inspired vocals, and was really terrible until sometime before input from Repulsion and Autopsy members. Massacra had put out a full-featured amazing demo at that point. Death always oriented more toward speed metal and heavy metal than death metal, and finally just outed itself by playing Judas Priest worship music shortly before founder Chuck Schuldiner died of AIDS.
Who cares? Western civilization and on the cusp of something huge, something transformative–and you’re mad about metal subgenres on the internet.
Maybe the two are one and the same, my nilla. Western Civilization is rebirthing itself by favoring the raw id over the neurotic ego.
The best bands are the ones that craft music using the language and spirit of the genre, but find a unique mode of expression within that rather than closely mimicking other material or bastardizing the genre by mixing it with other styles of music. Havohej/Profanatica are undeniably Black Metal, yet there are no other quality bands that sound like them.
Blaspherian is a great example of a band that achieves this quality in Death Metal. WHERE THE FUCK IS THEIR NEW ALBUM!?
I reached out to Wes Weaver, who says they are still working on it but have encountered some personal and organizational difficulties. He’s very much quality-oriented, so this is not a bad sign, meaning that when the material is good and ready we’ll hear it. That’s a better approach than pumping out stuff to fit a label schedule and get popular, which always causes a compromise of quality.
This album and Onward to Golgotha use a lot of the same riffs. One that comes to mind is the last riff before restating the main theme in Profanation, which is also used in Raping of Angels, Part 2. It’s interesting to see how one composer uses similar simple elements in different ways to create two of the greatest works in death metal and black metal.
I just know the one riff that’s three palm-muted chords followed by three tremolo-picked single notes. I can’t recall titles off the top of my head, but I’ve heard other bands use this EXACT same riff.
A lot of writers fall in love with a riff and want to use it in different forms to explore all the potential they see within it. Either that, or it reminds them of their uncle’s penis. “Hard” to tell.
One day me and Paul Ledney will rape the trannies.
The Cannibal Corpse of Back Metal, indeed.
Where’s the motif development, faggots? Where’s the phrasal construction? It’s just ABAB, Simpler even that you, in order to think yourselves more special than the average eating-shitting-fucking meat bag, maintain is so beneath you.
Oh wait, some bands get a free pass because, well, they have the ‘right’ ‘vibe’.
WTF is the ‘right vibe’?
Defend yourselves, cunts. Or face the charge of being just another arbitrary manifestation of human preferences.
Just another leaf in the winds of becoming.
*Simpler even than the pop music you fuckers think is so beneath you
Stop, reach around, and touch your anus. Something is leaking from it. If you mail that goo in to 23andme, they will send back a notice that it is 100% PURE METALHEAD and let you know gently that you have been raped repeatedly for the sin of being a hipster.
Profanatica/Havohej has good moments and bad moments. This EP may not be among their top three releases, but it’s better than sold out mainstream “death metal” for meaty suburbanites to use as the soundtrack to their trivial high school rebellion phase shortly before they cut the hair, put on suits, and become managers at fast food joints.
Chuck Schuldiner didn’t die of AIDS, YOUR ARGUMENT DID.
I want an explanation for why Havohej is somehow better than cannibal corpse that is based on music theory not homosexual quips about fast food outlets.
Yeah well, I want a picture of you in a schoolgirl outfit wearing lace panties in the library. Think you can manage that?
Havohej is better than Cannibal Corpse because Havohej at its peaks contains more artistic expression than Cannibal Corpse at its peak. I think even the Cannibal Corpse guys would admit that they are just trying to make a heavier version of KISS and AC/DC for a new generation. It’s fun music, but you would not say you learned anything from it.
Contrast that to Dethrone the Son of God or Profanatitas de Domonatia. These are epic, expressive works of metal that show us a unique voice that is also relevant to our understand of this weird, failed world we live in.
I also wonder why anyone would listen to Cannibal Corpse when Suffocation and Deicide are out there.
I asked for an explanation in terms of music theory not slippery non-quantifiable quips like “contains more artistic expression” and “expressive works of metal” and “show[s] a unique voice” you faggot.
They took a very wide palette of influences and concentrated it into very concise compositions that express the artists intents perfectly. Cannibal Corpse has always limited themselves to being the band known for how far they can take their extremity within their compositions and their lyrics.
“They took a very wide palette of influences and concentrated it into very concise compositions that express the artists intents perfectly.”
Are you stupid? Can you read? This is not an explanation given in terms of music theory. It’s just more slippery subjective crap that can mean anything you want it to.
Anyway, how on earth do you know what the intentions of Ledney were when composing this shit? You can’t know. Thus, you can’t know if these intentions were expressed “perfectly”.
Well that was pretty autistic, even Toilet Ov Hell are less retarded.
If someone expresses their intentions perfectly then it is simple to know what those intentions are as they are easily understood. By comparing with Ledney’s interviews everything is very consistent.
Cannibal Corpse play riff salads of old Sodom riffs while pushing them towards gimmicky technicality and speed or brain dead groovy breakdowns.
Just look at Havohej’s note selection and understand how they resolve their riffs compared to how CC don’t seem to really care about note selection as long as it sound “brootal”.
(Full on Autism)
“Just look at Havohej’s note selection and understand how they resolve their riffs ”
Don’t fucking tell me you have just told me why H is better than CC, because you used the word ‘resolve’. Indeed, please explain to me how Havohej resolve their riffs, in terms of music theory, and how CC do not.
If you don’t do it in terms of music theory, you are just pissing into the wind of subjectivity.
FUCK this is getting repetitive.
Read the article for further explanation but I will continue this autistic debate for now.
The note selection is very similar to that of Immolation where most songs here seek to resolve by returning to the root note from a more consonant interval and giving a more fitting sense of resolution than just returning to the root note or as close as possible exclusively through the chromatic scale which is something that has plagued the large majority of war metal bands as this imprisons their musical language.
Music theory: what kind of theory do you need? Cannibal Corpse uses verse-chorus composition in a minor key. Beyond that, there’s not a huge amount of organization.
Havohej composes in layers, uses phrasal riffs, and is more like sonic sculpture than pop music. Talk to some Kate Bush fans for the rest.
tl;dr Cannibal Corpse is pop, Havohej is less quantifiable and more interesting.
The first part of the post gave me a good chuckle.
(Continued from above)..
Don’t accuse someone of Autism JUST because they are disagreeing with you. That’s slave morality.
“most songs here seek to resolve by returning to the root note from a more consonant interval”
Are you saying CC doesn’t seek to resolve bits of their music by returning to the root note? That’s not a hard thing to do, fam.
If this is what makes Havohej good, then it’s pretty fucking generic.
“and giving a more fitting sense of resolution than just returning to the root note or as close as possible exclusively through the chromatic scale”
This makes no sense. Can you put it in a way which actually expresses a proposition?
One let’s go through your statemtns one by one:
“Also, the first part of that sentence contradicts the second. You are saying Havohej are better than CC because the former a) seeks to resolve by returning to the root note, but also by b) giving a more fitting sense of resolution than just returning to the root note. Which is it?”
Well it’s the way they return to the root note through through certain consonant intervals like minor thirds (fairly typical of the NYDM legends). CC has no regards for such movement nor do they understand this as their primary objective has always been extremity for the sake of extremity (lyrics,tempo,technicality). They transmit nothhing but the will to shock just like Rammstein. Havohej return to the root note but by going through a more consonant motion they add memorability within the chaos of their riffs.
“Don’t accuse someone of Autism JUST because they are disagreeing with you. That’s slave morality.”
Yet you are being autistic by knitpicking arguments that just aren’t there.
“and giving a more fitting sense of resolution than just returning to the root note or as close as possible exclusively through the chromatic scale”
See above but there is a distinct effort in finding resolution rather than just jumping back through semi-tone intervals.
LET ME MAKE THIS CLEAR TO YOU. HAVOHEJ SUCEED BY SIMPLIFYING DEATH AND BLACK METAL INTO A COHESIVE WHOLE IN ORDER TO EXPRESS RAGE THROUGH CATHARSIS. LOOK AT THE STRUCTURES AND THE MELODIES. IT IS BEYOND THE SCOPE OF THIS ARTICLE TO GO THROUGH EVERY DETAIL, THOUGH IF PEOPLE ARE INTERESTED WE COULD DO A SONG ANALYSIS.
Basically, CC is closer to rock music than Black Sabbath, which at least used phrase-based riffs.
That might be the most laughably wrong thing I’ve ever read on this site.
Also, the first part of that sentence contradicts the second. You are saying Havohej are better than CC because the former a) seeks to resolve by returning to the root note, but also by b) giving a more fitting sense of resolution than just returning to the root note. Which is it?
He likes root notes, just like Chuck Schuldiner liked sucking the roots of young boys before he raped them with diarrhea for lubricant in public bathrooms after his dramatic and sweaty shows as “the father of DEAF METUL” for grateful soyboy fanbois.
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