There has never been another artist quite like HAVOHEJ. Perhaps Beherit, but whereas that band's Holocausto Vengeance reveled in primitivism and eventually flipped the script with little to no warning, sole HAVOHEJ visionary Paul Ledney has studiously pursued the outer limits of BEYOND-black metal, patiently utilizing primitivism as a foundation to explore esoteric vibrations 'n' undercurrents only the most tweaked of ears are in tune to. Of course, the name Paul Ledney should be well known in the underground from his preceding Profanatica, but HAVOHEJ is the man's vision alone, and it is a vision that's massive and miasmic to behold.
Each HAVOHEJ release has been a world unto itself, even when those worlds fall within the remit of an EP release. The band's earliest releases - the Unholy Darkness and Impurity EP and Dethrone the Son of God full-length, both from 1993 - essentially took the characteristic Profanatica template and proceeded to make it even more primitive. But, it was 1994's landmark Black Perversion EP where HAVOHEJ took black metal to the hinterlands of unorthodoxy, sublimating conventional "black metal" instrumentation into a suffocating slab of transcendental foulness. That same year, Ledney released the Black Mist EP, which further separated itself from black metal convention by being an eerily minimalist expression of electronic ritualism.
Although a period of quiet mystery followed, in 2000 did HAVOHEJ release the volcanic Man and Jinn EP, which feature a brand-new track and intro alongside totally revolutionized covers of Venom and Impaled Nazarene, in essence reclaiming the source material and making it undeniably Ledney-esque. Following that EP, a revitalized Profanatica became Ledney's focus for the next number of years, until 2007 and 2008 revealed a pair of EPs - Tungkat Blood Wand and Hornbrook Seytan, respectively, both released by HELLS HEADBANGERS - which showed HAVOHEJ stripping down the Black Perversion aesthetic to a crude 'n' crushing sort of black-doom drone. In 2009 did Kembatinan Premasterarrive courtesy of HELLS HEADBANGERS; across this stratifying full-length did Ledney largely recombine the previous HAVOHEJ records into an utterly devastating form of bestial black metal far, far removed from (and superior to) the "bestial metal" resurgence that was just taking shape.
Ever the iconoclast, Ledney brings back HAVOHEJ a whole ten years later with yet another defiant, shapeshifting form: Table of Uncreation, his third album under the banner. Exploring the seemingly wide divide between space and suffocation, here does Ledney draw the two together into a mesmerizing, monged-out subversion of black metal into simply BLACK. Traces of the entire HAVOHEJ aesthetic are well represented here on Table of Uncreation, and then spliced 'n' diced into juddering panoramas of primitive sonic filth. Truly, Ledney pierces the veil of forbidden forces only revealed to the blackest and most depraved of minds, as Table of Uncreation indeed lives up to its namesake and aborts "black metal" convention and instead vomits forth a crude, caustic, yet exceptionally nuanced type of undead birth. It's as blasphemous as Ledney's legendary work in Profanatica, but defiles tradition with an evil avant-garde touch that is HAVOHEJ's alone.
Quite simply, there's very little, past and especially present, that can be compared to HAVOHEJ. While Ledney could've certainly left his legacy intact and left the name in permanent hiatus, with Table of Uncreation does he continue to challenge even the hardiest and hardened ears - and defiles them forevermore. Long live HAVOHEJ, and may it continue to die exquisite deaths.
Hells Headbangers 2019