By Lane Oliver
Few musical acts conjure up more mystery and intrigue than the French black metal outfit Deathspell Omega. Little is known about the band and its members other than the fact that they create some of the most abrasive, technical and forward-thinking black metal ever in the history of the genre. 2010 brought us the devastating Paracletus that showed the band decreasing their song durations in order to attack the listener with shorter bursts of technical prowess. That record was extremely heavy, mystifying and terrifying to listen to and made me anxious to hear what the band would bring to the table next. This year Deathspell Omega released Drought, a short six song EP that is roughly twenty minutes in length. It may be short but it definitely proves the band isn’t slowing down and continues to perfect their signature sound.
The instrumental “Salowe Vision” opens up Drought with sustained depressive and melodic chords that tear at the soul with each strum. Accompanying this is a clean, ghost like lead that quietly echoes behind this melancholic display. This is one of the few Deathspell Omega songs that reminiscent of traditional black metal. The triumphant “Salowe Vision” leads into the violent “Fiery Serpents”. The track begins with a flurry of dissonant yet melodic chord structures that when combined with expert speed and precision sound like a cacophony of conflicting melodies. But as the song progresses, “Fiery Serpents” becomes increasingly heavy and horrifying. It pulverizes you with off kilter chugging of jarring chords and brittle sounding ascending harmonics. Not to mention the sickening sounding groans and grumbles of the vocalist makes the music all the more disturbing. After awhile the band does not resemble black metal at all. They have become a grotesque monster bent on devouring you whole. The song sounds like if traditional black metal had a baby with death metal and “mathcore” bands and then proceeded to torture the child for hours on end. “Fiery Serpents” goes through many sonic changes within its four minute duration that if you are not paying attention, you might miss something. “Scorpions & Drought” continues to show off Deathspell Omega’s jaw dropping skill. Cacophonous chord combinations, inharmonious tapping and satanic groans from the deepest pit of hell take control of this track. Though not as volatile as “Fiery Serpents” it still provides enough discordant fun for the whole family. “Sand” is the album’s shortest track, clocking at one minute and thirty-six seconds. It revolves around a discontented collection of notes that lead way into a gruesome sounding chugging chord progression. The whole song revolves around these two extremes and in a twisted sort of way, provides a nice break from the more chaotic moments of this release. “Abrasive Swirling Murk” comes right in with these monstrous, rhythmically complex dissonant chord shapes and drum patterns that absolutely destroy your sense of tonality. Beneath the song’s technical chaos one can hear the haunting sounds of a choir singing gracefully and piano strums under the sonic assault. Moments like these can intrigue you as well as scare you. Drought ends with the instrumental, bass heavy “The Crackled Book of Life”. The song revolves around these atonal scales that bend and sway along the fret board. The drumming on this track is very groove based and kind of brings catchiness to the track. The mid section features distortion driven bass and the sounds of woodwinds in the back ground. Despite all the chaos the listener has endured, the EP ends on a slightly more melodic note.
Nothing really bothers me on this record other than I thought “Sand” was tad bit repetitive. But that’s just me being nit-picky. It’s not perfect by any means and it’s hard to capture the band’s best moments on just six tracks. But it is a nice introduction to the band if you have not heard them before. If you like disturbing bouts of hellish violent aural onslaughts then Deathspell Omega is the band for you.
Label: Norma Evangelium Diaboli/Season of Mist
Release Date: June 22, 2012
Favorite Tracks: “Fiery Serpents”, “Abrasive Swirling Murk” and “The Crackled Book of Life”
For Fans of: Dodecahedron, Blut Aus Nord and Nachtmystium.