Deathspell Omega // Drought
Rating: 4.0/5.0 — As excellent as you would have come to expect from these aliens.
Label: Season of Mist [US] | NOEVDIA [EU]
Release Dates: US: 06.22.2012 | EU: 2012.07.03
The Men In Black must be having their hands full with the recent influx of fame-seeking extraterrestrials dwelling amongst us under the guise of outrageously dressed pop divas and pre-pubescent male singing sensations. Still, for a clandestine organization so far-reaching and powerful that they actually own the patents to unearthly technologies found in microwave ovens, Velcro and liposuction without the whole world knowing it, how is it possible that they still haven’t assigned any agents to monitor the alien group that calls themselves “Deathspell Omega” and claims to have its members scattered between France and Finland? One day, Deathspell Omega is sure to bring about Earth’s destruction. Just you wait for the day when their Space Satan or something comes crashing down on our planet like a sledgehammer on a chicken egg [Holy crap, Stephen King’s It was prophetic! – AMG].
Deathspell Omega is back with more unearthly melodies to show just how pathetic the human black metal scene is when compared to superior beings from the distant stars. Drought is the congregation’s fifth EP, and it comes seven years after their first, which was mystically titled “Kénôse”. While Kénôse was the earliest EP to have been recorded during the time taken for the religiously-epic Deathspell Omega trilogy to finish its run (of which I did an in-depth analysis here), Drought is the second EP that was released after the completion of the album trilogy. But when compared to Kénôse (which naturally had that then-primitive but slowly-evolving-into-something-out-of-this-world black metal sound of Si Monvmentvm Reqvires, Circvmspice), Drought doesn’t really sound that different. It actually continues the aliens’ experimental streak heard in the trilogy, but of course, it is now no longer considered to sound “avant-garde” anymore, seeing as how so many bands have jumped onto the bandwagon since.
Musically, it sounds like a well-balanced mixture of the furious, primitive black metal edge heard on Si Monvmentvm Reqvires, Circvmspice and Fas – Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum—of which both albums frequently utilized Darkthrone-style outbursts to punctuate the stream of eerie-sounding, atonal guitar motifs that many Deathspell Omega admirers now know the congregation for—and the eerie portal to the beyond that was Paracletus (which is still the most intriguing black metal album I have ever heard). What do I mean by “well-balanced”? Out of the six songs that make up this EP, the first three are highly reminiscent of the first two albums in the trilogy, while the last three have a sound much akin to the last album in the trilogy.
Opening instrumental track “Salowe Vision” plods along at a dread-instilling pace, with most of the song featuring mournful guitars that allow each and every one of their minimal number of chords resonate fully with the innate hopelessness hidden deep within the human soul, before fading purposefully into nothingness. This is quite reminiscent of “First Prayer” from Si Monvmentvm Reqvires, Circvmspice and strongly reminiscent of “Obombration” from Fas – Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum, both of which are also the opening tracks for their respective albums. “Fiery Serpents” and “Scorpions & Drought” then put the anger in Bruce Banner by blasting away furiously, sounding like extended versions of the Deathspell Omega trademark of using primitive black metal assaults to transit from one otherworldly guitar motif to another.
“Sand”, “Abrasive Swirling Murk” and “The Crackled Book of Life” then tone things down a little by going into Paracletus-mode and spicing up the angry black metal blasting with the highly likeable combination of atonal, ascending guitar arpeggios, a syncopated bass guitar line, and a slow and simplistic, drum part that would not sound out of place in a rock song. Basically, these are the elements that are now synonymous with the sound of the post-black metal sub-genre. There is a little nod to Si Monvmentvm Reqvires, Circvmspice towards the end of the closing track of “The Crackled Book of Life”, though, as solemn Gregorian chanting can be heard from 3:02 to 3:33; a musical device which was used prominently and to great effect on Deathspell Omega’s first album in their profound trilogy.
It seems like Deathspell Omega can no longer sound any stranger than they refreshingly did on their much revered album trilogy. Their style which pioneered the so-called “Third Wave of Black Metal” is now aged and obviously isn’t considered groundbreaking anymore when simply reiterated in different permutations of the elements making it up, but the music it creates still results in quality time spent navel-gazing and simulating the feeling of immense insignificance in a vast and mysterious universe like ours.