Movies, unless documentaries or based faithfully on real events, do not scare me; from the most esoteric horror to the laughable slasher films like “Saw” which seem to give so many the creeps. I am non-plussed about such things, and music is no different. DEATHSPELL OMEGA is the exception to this general rule however. I’ve often read that Blut Aus Nord’s “The Work Which Transforms God” is a frightening, to some even uneasily scary album to listen to. While I find that album a great record, again it tantalizes me musically but that is it. But there is something about DEATHSPELL OMEGA that puts me on edge, and it’s not there stupendously ludicrous and intellectually bankrupt philosophy. It is song structure, weaving intensities and peculiar key choices and changes that send a shiver down my spine. While this outcome and the elements which produce it make listening to the band beyond a challenge at times, I love it. With their new album “Paracletus” ending a trilogy, these French purveyors of disturbing Black Metal have again reached a lofty level of intensity and creepiness.
Out of the gate, “Epklesis I” hammers home the spine-chilling effect DO can create with nothing more than juxtaposing peculiar keys and shifting those all over the map. In essence it is oddly familiar to THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN in this respect, yet on “Paracletus” like their previous efforts, the band constructs these in such a way as to remain firmly in a modern Black Metal framework, be it a small circle of bands that inhabit this area with them. A song such as the opener conjures moments of horror film scores where the twangs of discordant strings are used to jar an audience and put them on the edge of their seat. DO then take this, add blasting but more often odd-timed drums and compile it all to create a suffocating, troubled soundscape which permeates their continually engrossing ventures. On the heels of this is a blistering lament in “Wings Of Predation”, a more traditional excursion of twisted Black Metal, while still keeping entrenched in their own mire of hair-raising darkness. Unlike “Fas – Ite, Maledicti, In Ignem Aeternum”, which got a little hindered in its attempt to undertake a more experimental sound, “Paracletus” is most certainly a solid, if off-putting, Black Metal album. Aspa’s vocals seem trapped between BM screeches and an authoritative condemnation of the entirety of existence. He is both sermonizing and damning at the same instant, and that only adds to DEATHSPELL OMEGA’s horrifyingly beautiful torment. For good measure the band also throw in a slower, more methodical dirge in “Dearth” without losing any of the albums caustic effect. Through some of the tracks on the album, the band returns to a chilling but simple refrain which would otherwise disturb some, but played by an outfit like DO it borders on a sweet hook; a tormented, malevolent excursion that warms a Metalheads bullet-spiked cockles.
Little is truly known about DEATHSPELL OMEGA, even down to exactly who is in the band at what point and just about every other major detail about the outfit. They have no official website, seldom sit down for interviews, and as far as I can garner, have never played live. Of course, this isn’t the most unusual state of affairs for many Black Metal bands, who seem to revel in playing the ‘mysterious’ card. I did read one interview recently which centred primarily on the group’s misanthropic philosophy. Again, it’s ludicrous on its face but such pompous silliness abounds throughout much of Metal, and ultimately it’s not much of a concern. What is important about DO is that they are at the vanguard of contemporary Black Metal, churning out disturbing and brilliant music almost each time they spew a release upon the much hated world. “Paracletus” is for my money as worthy of the praise they have received in recent years for most of their discography. Another album near the top of the year’s best.
(Online December 25, 2010)