It takes a lot of perseverance to remain true to yourself in the music industry. Most bands dream of the day a major label takes notice and sponsors their wildest dreams, but oftentimes there are unforeseen consequences and caveats that sour the rockstar dream. It’s not easy, but some bands, like Germany’s Profanity, prefer the “DIY or Die” route. While it’s an awful lot more uncertain, the payoffs are totally worth it. Their latest offering, Fragments of Solace, showcases that the creative fire is still burning strong, as is their strong work ethic and commitment to staying underground.
Profanity have been churning out an exemplary brand of hyper-melodic tech death since way back in 1993, and they have always chosen the underground path as their means to the top. While they haven’t signed with any major labels, that doesn’t mean they haven’t made a mark on the scene, or gathered a large group of high-profile friends in their long tenure. They’ve toured and performed with the likes of Cannibal Corpse, Vader, Suffocation, Necrophagist, Defeated Sanity and Exhumed, and these friendships have come in handy for some tight guest spots on their previous releases, and the trend continues on Fragments of Solace. The trio of guitarist/vocalist Thomas Sartor, bassist/vocalist Lukas Haidinger and drummer Armin Hassmann are fleshed out by a remarkable amount of guest spots, including solos from the legendary Terrance Hobbs (Suffocation), Dave Suzuki (Churchburn) and Matt Sotelo (Decrepit Birth). Not that they really need all that much fleshing out. On their own, the trio does a fantastic job of working in tandem to blend cutting edge tech death wizardry with old school riffs. In a large way, Fragments is a love letter to the music the band grew up with. “We wanted to transport the vibe of the most important death metal releases for us from the 90s into the present and mix it with our vision of extreme music…some of the most influential albums were released in the 90s. This is the music we grew up with. This is the music we love and appreciate and of course we still listen to today,” says the band of their vision for Fragments.
While Fragments doesn’t necessarily break new ground in the field of tech death, what it does offer is a really nice blend of catchy melodicism, old school riffs and modern technical flash. No run or solo is so complex that you are unable to follow it, and there’s a lot of little melodies that are very easy to get stuck in the brain. Tracks like “Progenitor of the Blaze” not only showcases Sartor’s fleet-fingered tapping and legato lines, but also the way Haidinger expertly fills out the space over Hassmann’s shifting rhythms. As promised, there’s also a lot of 90’s worship going on as well. “Ceremony of the Rotten” and “Disputed Territory” both feature brutal, old-school riffs that creep and crawl over pummeling drums, and the latter features two solos from Suffocation’s master wizard himself. There’s a lot to really enjoy here. Profanity certainly know their way around a good melody, and obviously the technical flash is there in spades, but there’s something about the way that they blend it all together that makes it really fun to listen to. There’s a little bit of nostalgia for the classic era of death metal in there, but it’s rounded out by lots of modern polish.
Fragments of Solace does a lot to exemplify what Profanity can do. The trio manages to create a gigantic sound with just three instruments, and in a way that doesn’t completely muddle everything. On the contrary, this is a crisp, clear album with a lot of nuance to it that multiple listens will help bring to the surface. It’s also no small feat that they managed to get a whole host of incredibly talented friends to help them out with this release. But then again, Profanity have been churning out stellar tech death for more than fifteen years now, and it should come as no surprise that people have taken notice. The important thing is that they have, and will continue, to do it their way.