PROFANE ORDER – One Nightmare Unto Another (2023)REVIEW

With the nuclear flap of death’s infernal wings at their behest Montréal, Quebec-based black/death metal duo Profane Order cement their status as one of the best, certainly most exciting spins in the war metallic space today with this second full-length album. Brief in its battery yet dense with brutal sensationalism throughout, ‘One Nightmare Unto Another‘ presents a myriad set of atomic corridors toward bestial devastation, tunnels to realms of ruinous death metal as ancient and gnarled as its cavernous bestial black metal affect. At the very least they’ve surpassed the bar set by their debut while forging considerable progress toward their own moshable, thrashing maniac form of war-grade extremism.

Profane Order formed circa 2015 generally spearheaded by musician Illusory who is now arguably best known as the drummer for melodic black metal group Spectral Wound, the rest of the original quartet line-up gathered that year for their first demo tape (‘Marked by Malice‘, 2016) where they began exploring their own version of bestial black/death metal. Their original sound was crust punk and thrash metal influenced from my point of view but only in the sense that an Amebix or early Bolt Thrower fan would appreciate the surreal grind of their attack and its readable buzz while a lingering touch of ‘South of Heaven‘ has crept in the periphery of at least one song of each release since. Their foundational influences from death/thrash metal and such go a long way to ensure every release they chop away at has riffs, rhythms worth freaking the fuck out to.

They’d strike quickly beyond that foundational point with their first mLP (‘Tightened Noose of Sanctimony‘, 2017) and from my point of view this is where we hear the real vision and emerging rhythmic voice of the band. That is to say that record had riffs, memorable rhythms that’d felt like something uniquely rabid yet beyond capable of groove (see: “Terror Worship”) with less obvious nods to Revenge and Archgoat keeping things brutal yet sensical. It isn’t rare that war metal bands come up with insane riffs but it is rare to find a band rounding those riffs up into statements, songs which are readable and memorable beyond the sensation of chaos and disorder. That first official release made a quick fan of me and that was momentum enough to push through the strong but not quite as exciting debut LP (‘Slave Morality‘, 2019) that’d followed soon after. Their guitar work was resigned to more of a wall of sound, riffs were more intently focused on simpler patternation and I’d read that debut as a point of devolution, aiming for the raw cut of the first Blasphemy full-length in order to meet up with early 90’s Finnish black metal influences. I guess the point to be made is that I’d expected ‘One Nightmare Unto Another‘ to be a similarly known quantity, an alright sub-genre entry kind of record with some strong barbarian personality in tow but this record is a wholly reinvigorated nuke, militant and unreal in its aggression.

Bring back the bomb. — At some point beyond 2019 Profane Order cut their operation down to a skeleton crew of two members with Illusory‘s (Spectral Wound, Grole) role remaining major and Olcadóir (Skumstrike) joining at some point. This appears to have found ’em pulling back the skin to the more pronounced riff-obsessed death metal influences of their sound circa 2017 and pushed that idea over the edge, pushing heaviest yet grooves and distraught leads back into the fray. Though the average listener attuned to nowadays acts like Antichrist Siege Machine and Abysmal Lord will appreciate the beefed guitar tones and rabid attack of this well-crafted production ‘One Nightmare Unto Another‘ edges most of the up-and-coming warfare noise crews out of North America these days by way of that strong handle upon thrashing death metal command. In clearest terms, this is a record ‘old school’ death metal fans will immediately appreciate whether they care for bestial black/death music or not. Hit the ~3:00 minute mark on opener “In the Shadows of the Past” and at the very least the first impression should stick amongst those so inclined.

Sound design is rarely the place to start when I want to really dig into the character of a war metal album but the concrete amphitheater-sized space that Profane Order fill with the brunt of their attack manages to be just obscurant enough to give the impression of violent action while clearly rendering the interaction of the brutal, frantically paced performances herein. To start their collective din echoes upward at a 120° angle, an obtuse trajectory for the drum kit which releases the quaking pressure of these unusually hard hit pieces from a prime placement at the centre of the cyclone, though we get the body of this reverberation from the forceful roaring of the vocalist, a blood-coughing wretch which lends the album an inhuman feeling with just enough diction to pick up on. As the duo swing between moshable death metal rides the directionality of their collective atmospheric reach changes and very much due to the real meat the main rhythm guitar thread being an intelligent beast, but a brute nonetheless. “A Sombre Passage” is an excellent example of this as they steer in with machine-like swerve, socking away at the simple yet punishing count of those first forty-five seconds before resolving to cut into a new riff or variation every fifteen seconds from that point on. The galloping variation ~1:37 minutes being a fine example of an almost classic grindcore or death/thrash structure underpinning their work as it isn’t that far off from, say, Death Worship in spirit even if the last third of the song has this moshable ‘old school’ death metal ride to it. Album closer “Of Bile and Malice” does similar work from a different point of view, hitting a huge riff to start before working up a ‘Cause of Death‘-esque death groove as the middle third sorts itself out.

While the shorter pieces (“No Light Here”, “Suppression”) on this relatively short ~26 minute record will rightfully screw your head off I’d found the 4-5 minute pieces which occasionally leaned into slow-to-mid pacing for coloration, surreal shifts, and bigger grooves were the most memorable overall. “Pernicious Scum” being a prime example of where Profane Order have retained their classic war metal personality but put on a bit of a show between the doomed intro, the grinding main riff and cavernous vocal layers, bestial roaring from beyond, which helps the piece to stand out in the dense fracas of the full listen. When considering the full sequence of events the focus on variety is successful with an appropriately skull-shocking introduction and dramatic closure which collectively add to the substantive feeling of the action despite a brief runtime thanks to said variety. In plainest possible terms, ‘One Nightmare Unto Another‘ is an exciting, loud and damned energetic listen with plenty of riffs. Throw in excellent cover artwork from Alex Shadrin (Nether Temple Design) and I was easily won over by both the spectacle and substance of this one. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (84/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:One Nightmare Unto Another
LABEL(S):Nuclear War Now! Productions
RELEASE DATE:January 27th, 2023

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