2011's Mare represented a journey into the world of witches of the past and the present, and was followed in 2014 by Djevelmakt and it's conceptual journey into the underworld with rats, black souls and false choirs. New album Profan now finishes the thought process by digging so deep that there is nothing more there. There is only more digging to be done, and it is all fruitless. There is no more hope beyond the night terrors, no company beyond the snakes, nothing to be found but suffocating emptiness.
Says singer Dolk: "It only gets bleaker and colder from here. Profan represents no hope, a life of filth, a surrender to the laws of Death and the Scythe."
Musically, though, Kampfar presents the fiercest and most intense recording of their career. Since its first conception in 1994 with folk and classical music influences, via the colder winds on Kvass, the band has kept on renewing, and elevated into the black metal authority that reaches its peak on Profan. Songs like Pole In The Ground and Profanum hearken back to the vibes of the early 90s black metal while keeping the edge of 2015 Kampfar, while slow burners like Daimon and epic album closer Tornekratt show that Kampfar can go deep down and still deliver intensity few in the world of metal can match.
Profan is the result of a creative wave that really took on gigantic proportions after the release of Djevelmakt in early 2014. Again written partially in Bergen, where half the band is located, and in the band's spiritual home in Hemsedal, the writing process was yet again highly gratifying. Jonas Kjellgren of world renowned Abyss/Blacklodge Studios was also involved again, as the drums on this album have the distinction/honour of being the last recording ever to be recorded through the mixing desk that has been the catalyst for so many legendary albums since the mid 90s. Vocals were recorded in Oslo's Waterfall studio with the aid of Stamos Koliousis, while all remaining recordings were handled by the band's own Ole Hartvigsen, who also held the production reins. The mix was done by Jonas Kjellgren, seeing as he had grown to understand the band's sound as well as they themselves did, and the result is a giant of an album.
Visually the band has chosen to go back and acquire several paintings by Polish master Zdzisław Beksiński.
Drummer Ask Ty comments: “What Kampfar captures with sound is an essence that we have only seen mirrored in Beksiński's work, and thus it is only natural to use his art to front our music.”
The visual design of the record follows the lead of Mare and Djevelmakt before it, and as such the arch of this third creative wave is completed in the right manner. As always, with the band writing predominantly in Norwegian, the imagery of the album serves as a guide to the lyrical themes. Though, again, there are also songs that found their voice in English, such as stunning album opener Gloria Ablaze and the first single, Icons.
For the first time in the band's career they have also chosen to record a video to one of their songs. Cooperating with Red Pig Productions due to their intimate knowledge of Beksiński's visual expression and their expertise in capturing interesting metal videos, the result is a story that more deeply explains the themes the album is founded upon.
Profan is a fitting end to a long journey through nature's magic, the power of perseverance in the face of gargantuan forces, and finally acceptance that there is no such thing as resolution.
To paraphrase from the words spewed in Skavank, there will be 'no prayers, no prophecies, no hymns, no rituals, no life'.
But there will be fire.