With the thousand nail-pocked vambraces of 1985-era Satanic speed metal and a rabid celebration of sexual bondage in hand the perverse passersby and known imbibers of Brazilian first wave black metalpunk band Power From Hell and their goat-jacked rip of Bathory and early Sodom influenced sound took their name from Onslaught‘s infamous debut with a mind for serious dedication. Born from the streets of northeastern São Paulo their traditional black metal sound first became a reality in the hands of cult leader Sodomic (Arão da Silva Pinto) as he branched off from brutal death metal band Anarkhon around 2001. No aspect of Power From Hell would change drastically between ‘The True Metal’ (2004) and ‘Lust and Violence’ (2011) in the sense that Sodomic‘s vision was unperturbed by outside influences or collaborations, it was raw and lo-fi satanic speed metal of great purity. Friendship and collaboration with Whipstriker would conjure an even more serious live presence soon after and by 2014 it’d seem that Power From Hell would assimilate most of Anarkhon‘s line-up and become their major focus going forward. Nothing about ‘Devil’s Whorehouse’ (2015) felt restless or off the mark, if anything it was some of Sodomic‘s best work in the puritanical black/speed metal niche, yet all signs began to point towards greater change from that high point. Here with an established name and a freshly modernized style there is bound to be some measure of disconnect between this sixth full-length and the five prior. ‘Profound Evil Presence’ is a mid-to-late 80’s black metal album at it’s heart but it manifests today as a cephalopod, a beast of brain and foot without a body that’d shirk the 90’s and 2000’s to pick up those 80’s black metal structures and feed them the cthonic shadow-puppeted mythos of today. ‘Profound Evil Presence’ is less a bridge between worlds as it is a hybrid monstrosity intent on retaking the poisoned depths of today’s black metallic oceans and repopulating them with old, dead black metal genetics.
My mind initially struggled with the idea that first wave black metal ethos could ever meaningfully connect with Power From Hell‘s cited influences such as Mgla, Ascension and Cult of Fire yet, they have found a way to use modern (‘epic’) black metal guitar techniques to shape a dark and slithering form of unquestionable black metal. Whereas a comparably favorable group like Funereal Presence takes a nigh progressive approach to expanding black/speed metal forms into epics ‘Profound Evil Presence’ finds Power From Hell flourishing with dissonance and subtle melody while still pushing for 3-5 minute speed metal song structures. The result is closer to Spite‘s ‘Antimoshiach’ albeit a shade warmer with Arckanum-esque proud melodicism providing an energetic, majestic spirit without losing the jogging speed metal pace. At no point should an old fan of this band begin to shrug and walk away, though, as I would guess only the most dedicated metalpunk would take small issue with this very big change of Power From Hell‘s sound. It is a big change in terms of guitar work but, the core of Sodomic‘s writing and performances still roots in the first wave regardless of how wildly he bends occult black metal darkness around it you’re still getting reverb-hollowed vocals, simpler drum patterns, and an experience powered by the riff.
Press play on any one part of ‘Profound Evil Presence’ and sit through 2-3 full spins of its 42+ minute length. It’ll be easy to do so because the album flows together as one big mid-paced stream with few standout moments. This is the only issue I see with Power From Hell‘s sixth album, that it is essentially a debut within context of this new style and it may take 2-3 albums to get ‘right’ just as it did with their original sound. With that said it is still a fantastic album that’ll likely grab many ears by surprise that might’ve felt like their previous discography was predictable or plain. There was such conviction building in the prior two Power From Hell releases that to my ears ‘Profound Evil Presence’ feels like a bizarre release, in the literal sense, a dam that’d been blocked that now overflows with ambition held steadfast by worship of the old ways. Reverb and echo feed the deeper need for obscure classic black metal personality as Sodomic‘s vocals direct the experience with an imposing presence. The effect is something ‘new old school’ in essence, closer to the triumphs of groups like Invocation Spells, Witching Hour, and Nocturnal Witch as each incorporates some level of modern black metal into their staunchly olden-built music, but at a consistent mid-pace. It is an album of details, mood and ‘the moment’ rather than a rapacious and somewhat mindless spectacle that’d been expected.
I found myself simultaneously entertained by those details and unable to differentiate between the parts of the whole as I listened to ‘Profound Evil Presence’. Power From Hell lost some of their reckless punk spirit in translation and this makes for a ‘samey’ listening experience that grows in character over time as its density allows details to stand out over time. For those well indoctrinated with 80’s heavy metal it will feel appropriately ‘one note’ until variation is revealed in those subtleties, for those enthralled by blackened heavy metal variants it’ll be a damned slick gem with some unusual rhythmic play and deep-black atmosphere. For my own taste it was an experience of conflicting styles eventually melding into a successful ‘in the moment’ experience. Flitting between Uada-esque atmospheric/melodic black metal riffs and blackened speed metal on “False Puritan Philosophies” is the best example of this, where they’re certainly a jack of several trades but not yet memorable enough to hit the repeat button. Luckily the record does flow together cleverly enough that these stylistic juxtapositions create a unified character, a consistently entertaining set of riffs that are both driving first wave black/speed metal in spirit and hallucinating spectre of oblivion in body. Giving shape to the shapeless and raining shadowed tonality upon upbeat defiance is an excellent undertaking in the hands of Power From Hell and I’m hoping they continue to iterate within this new sound long enough to find those memorable moments that will transcend this already satisfying blender of influences applied to pure black metal. Highly recommended. For preview I’d suggest starting with the duo of “False Puritan Prophecies” and “Lust…Sacrilege & Blood” while paying close attention to how the songs connect in succession, the transition between tracks is artful in every case. Additionally, “Lucy’s Curse” and “Into the Sabbath” were my personal favorite tracks.
With the wrath of Satan in our minds. 4.0/5.0
<strong>Help Support Grizzly Butts’ goals with a donation:</strong>
If you appreciate what you’ve read, please consider donating directly using PayPal.