DEATHSPELL OMEGA, one of the best (if not the best) Black Metal bands to come out of France had humble beginnings; starting off as a cold, harsh, (and a bit) standard Black Metal band with “Infernal Battles”, DEATHSPELL OMEGA (now to be referred to as DSO when needed be) moved onto a more progressive sound, incorporating more outside influences and varying song structures with “Inquisitors Of Satan”. The said album solidified DSO as a powerful Black Metal machine and had fans awaiting what could possibly come after and even though fans knew how great DSO was, no one could expect what was to come next.
“Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice” was not only an improvement on “Inquisitors Of Satan” but was so good, it made all other works of the band irrelevant, this was Black Metal on a whole new level. Dropping the basement recording for a whole, rich, cold sound, DSO incorporated the acidic feeling so many bands were trying to convey, yet progressed as the instruments are all extremely recognizable. The album itself has the feeling of religiousness throughout it and not just in the lyrics (more on that later) but in the production DSO opted for, sounding like a mass or ceremony. The production proves (along with bands like FUNERAL MIST, CRAFT or MARDUK) that grim atmospheres could be kept while recording in a professional studio.
Anyway, the album itself is a seventy-seven minute journey into the Black twisted theology of DSO. The lyrics are interesting and original, dropping all themes of Satan as just an excuse to sing about genocide and misanthropy, DSO opted for zealot-like religiousness. Focusing on Satan as God and treating him as is he were, truly creepy concepts ring throughout this whole album, and the real seller of the lyrics is the use of religious statements many churches make, to a truly creepy effect. Most of the time, one cannot tell if DSO are singing about God or the Devil, much like FUNERAL MIST, that makes this reviewer pleased, because he is sick of hearing about how much hatred Black Metal bands have for everything.
The album begins with “First Prayer” an ethereal beginning, slowing building up to the point where it seems like it will explode, but instead lulls to the buzzing and features the chanting of monks and the clergy, but something is amiss, one can tell it is backwards, and can see what is being presented, a twisted theological view, this idea continues throughout the album within the music itself. “Sola Fide I & II” begins (now I know I marked it off as two songs, that’s because they are two separate tracks, but on the album they are connected) with the statement “O Satan I acknowledge you as the Great Destroyer of the universe”, now that’s a grim way to start an album. This song features some intense riffing, alternating between overly melodic and brutal, and a masterpiece already. “Sola Fide II” has a chanting that comes towards the end that could bring the most hardened of you to smile, the riff is the full frontal Rock Out and the chanting compliments it perfectly.
The fantastic album shifts from droning passages to brutal riffing and that leaves the listener for the breather “Hétoïmasia”, starting slow and melodic, the riff complimenting to the vocal patterns perfectly, the tempo increase comes in at the exact right time, speeding up to a pounding oblivion, then dying down and turning into the beginning riff with a fantastic solo over it, phenomenal, and one of the highlights of the album.
“Third Prayer” haunting the speakers, dying slowly and painfully and moving into…
The title track, exploding like a powder keg of riffs, and as they spin through the air they slice off the listener’s ears and tear at his face. But what’s this? It stopped? The furious barrage of sharpened blades has ceased, and one is left cold, bleeding, as the song plods forth slowly and manically, reverse melodies flying around and the drums moving in a chaotic nature.
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God almighty, who was, who is and is to come”
Vitriolic sermons come from the pulpit of vocalist Mikko Aspa and the choir of Hasjarl and Khaos plays to the tune of all things evil. Melodies and bombastic pieces are arranged and the mass continues all amounting to the greatest song on the album and one of the greatest Black Metal songs ever…
“Carnal Malefactor” the slowest, most agonizing song on the album, the music bringing images of pain and suffering, the vocals conjuring up all terrors of the mind, can the listener survive? But suddenly, the speed increases, the music becomes overwhelming in its melodic nature, the drumming seems out of control and Mikko spits forth more prayers. The chaos is overwhelming, how much longer can one stand? Then all is quiet, too quiet and the guitar fuzz stops, the vocals fade and then come the voices. The Gregorian Chants, simply beautiful, something that could appear in an opera, it seems so out of place on a Black Metal album and yet not only does this work, it could move one to tears or tranquility. Then the music moves back in as the “alleluias” fade now more epic and aggressive than ever. Featuring emotional vocals, epic guitars and accented drumming, truly a masterpiece of the genre and as music as a whole.
“Drink The Devil’s Blood” an aggressive DARKTHRONE-like piece, creating head banging riffs and utter over the top performances to create something that is both a step in the future and a nod to the past. “Malign Paradigm” finishes off slowly, with solos and static drumming to create a procession like feel to the song and to the end of the album. Drifting in and out of reality the listener is confronted with a barrage of fuzz, giving away to the empty howls of wind and the chants of the monks….then….static…and closure.
It’s hard to believe this band has only been around for seven years, for Deathspell Omega has created not only one of the best albums in the genre but also become one of the most praised bands in years, if one has not heard of any works by this band, one needs to educate himself with “Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice”, this cannot be missed for anything. If I was to complain about anything, it is that perhaps “Carnal Malefactor” should have been placed at the end, but it works as it is, serving as a sort of “communion” of the mass. I would also like to point out the snare drum sound is dull and flat, but that is being extremely perceptive.
A fine example of all things musical and a revolutionary record for the Black Metal genre, there have been only a few albums since then that can even come close to it, and one of those is the new DEATHSPELL OMEGA split “Crushing The Holy Trinity”, and that says something about the band, if only they can top themselves.
“Dei nostri templum terrarium orbus est.”
(Online February 8, 2007)