Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Deathspell Omega - "Paracletus" (2010) [Season of Mist]
Few and far between is the band who receives unanimous critical acclaim and that has a rabid fan-base without churning out predictable, commercialized music. Even in 'extreme' music, this is more often the case than not. Bands that have people frothing at the mouth in await of their every move almost always have some kind of widespread commercial appeal that caters more to the mainstream music fan, looking for nothing more than passive listening, devoid of all thought and artistic integrity. Deathspell Omega is fortunately one of the bands that always manages to deliver something new, unique and challenging with every record they release. Once being known for their impeccably old-school, minimalist and raw black metal styling, DsO have over the past decade or so, turned themselves into a virtuosic, intricately complex musical force. Not only sonically, but ideologically as well. After their mind-bogglingly complicated last full-length effort 'Fas, Ite...', they released a few EPs and compilation albums, which have led up to this most recent record entitled 'Paracletus'.
Paracletus combines the more melodic sound of 'Si Monvmentvm...' with the more complex approach of 'Fas...', creating a recording that is as much melodic as it is straight-up brutal. With their last few newer recordings finding DsO creating soundtrack length compositions, Paracletus finds them pulling back the reins a bit and refining their sound into more controlled (shorter) bursts of musical explosiveness. This by no means implies that DsO have settled down, they just seem to have distilled their continuing evolution into something more straightforward. There is still enough brutality and complexity to stupefy the most rabid tech-metal fan, but also integrates enough melodicism to keep the songs memorable, instead of dissolving into riff-salad wank fests.
The drumming is unbelievable on this album; insane blast beats, tons of fills, odd cymbal rhythms and restrained, yet ultra tasteful slower sections. The drummer for this band is absolutely stunning and this album is a great testament to that. There is both enough feeling and chops to make this guy one of the best drummers in all of black metal. The guitar playing is also of great effect; complex dissonant bashing, raging arpeggios and obscure melodies that are as confusing as they are beautiful. The bass playing keeps up perfectly with the insane song structures, adds enough flair to keep from becoming a backing guitar drone and has one of the most amazing distorted tones in black metal. Mikko Aspa also finds himself landing a watershed moment in his vocalizing ability. This is the most 'human' sounding performance he has given to date. The gruff 'Abbath doing death metal' style is still intact, but there is also a large addition of spoken word, straight up howling and agonizing screams that are a bit atypical for Mr. Aspa. The instrumental side of this album is no less than virtuosic in every aspect. The lyrical side of DsO has always been one of their more noted aspects. Orthodox satanic prose that is as frightening as it is thought inspiring. Not just the typical 'hail satan' kind of babble, but far more in-depth and thought provoking than may seem at first glance. There is a strange metaphysical aspect to the lyrics that makes them remarkably spiritual and introspective. The production is also of great note; incredibly clear without having the fault of being polished and lifeless. Everything is easily heard and understood throughout the duration of the record.
Simply put, this is an album of angular, jagged, atypical black metal riffage, destructive drum battery, crushing bass lines and insane vocals. This album is as at home with fans of unique black metal as technical death metal. As far as I am concerned, this is THE album of the year. It truly is an astounding record in every aspect possible. If you do not have this and appreciate unique, technical but still melodic metal, do yourself a favor and go buy two copies of this immediately. I doubt you will regret it.