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Classic Reviews: Havohej – Dethrone The Son Of God


Havohej – Dethrone The Son Of God, 1993 Candlelight Records

It’s a nativity story familiar to all Northeastern Hessians. In 1990 Anno Domini, the embryonic conglomerate known as Incantation underwent a fateful spasm of binary fission: one half — led by axeman John McEntee — retained the namesake as a fixture of New York Death Metal; the other half — led by skinsman Paul Ledney — became New York’s premier black metal cult, Profanatica. Seemingly motivated only by the diabolical lust to rape the whole of religiosity, the band spent a full two years recording epithetical anti-hymns and invoking the eternal sin of blasphemy during their live rituals, which often ended in bloody and naked GG Allin-isms, like with a bible getting soiled in every sort of bodily excretion imaginable. However, intra-band relations imploded soon after, just on the eve of what was to be Profanatica’s first full-length release; undaunted, Paul Ledney took up the duties of all instruments (with minor assistance from John Gelso) and put out Dethrone The Son Of God anyway, this time under the banner of Havohej. The name, of course, is derived from the satanic backmasking of the sacred Tetragrammaton– Jehovah.

As one would assume, this work still bears a few vestiges of its previous life in Incantation: it has the characteristically dark production, the churningly phrasal composition à la Divus De Mortuus or Under The Sign Of The Black Mark, and the occasional passage into a doom-paced crawl. There are even entire riff-arrangements that John McEntee used contemporaneously for Onward To Golgotha, which no doubt must have been an endless source of gleeful amusement for both parties. But where McEntee desired Azagthoth-ian brute force and infernal fanfare, Ledney was moved by the more austere, naturalistic raison d’être to sodomize holy nuns and cover the throne of Christ in black stinking crap. Following in the lineage of Hellhammer and Sarcófago, Havohej is deceptively simple: it’s profundity disguised as gibbering, teeth-gnashing, semi-retarded barbarism. As if in a mocking imitation of Gregorian chant, Master of Blasphemies Ledney delivers sermons of irreverence over chiefly monophonic, starkly unembellished songs with melodic dictations fixated on the greater narrative; percussion, too, is an active interlocutor in the conveyance of riffs, trudging and rolling over alternating currents of grooves, or marking phrase transitions with cipher-like fills– it’s perhaps done in indignant disregard to the Nordic school which, for the most part, strove towards unwavering ambiance. The climax of this slab of unholiness is of course the outro and title track, in which Ledney forsakes the accompaniment of any music whatsoever, and just launches into a shrieking tirade against the Judeo-Christian tradition. It’s an impassioned and utterly life-affirming soliloquy, and has been known to move more sensitive listeners to fits of haemolacria.

Seeing how the phrase “NYBM” has now come to stand as code for “sentimental aggro-indie for hipsters“, there’s really no better time to exalt this neglected masterpiece of the genre. It was too filthy, too licentious, too warlike to even be considered by any delicately framed, prim and bespectacled theory symposium academics. But for New York’s Hessian tribe, Dethrone The Son Of God is an ineffably sacred relic of a more glorious past, and one that has immortalized “Paulus Lednus” as a living saint amongst our ranks.

Havohej – “Weeping in Heaven”


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