I’m decidedly glad Hakola took some time out of his busy life of master villainy to throw together Ofermod’s latest esoteric offering – Thaumiel! Occult Swedish blackened death metallers, Ofermod are a whole different kind of evil. When put alongside their Norwegian counterparts, gone is the corpse paint and war dances used to strike fear in our hearts of an impending bloodbath. No, no Ofermod are controlled, ghost-like ghouls that draw you into their Kabbalah fold of yoga, meditation and concentration via melody, perversion and complete depravity. Ofermod’s style of blackened metal can be likened to industry heavyweights – early Shining (Swedish), Nefandus, Serpent Noir, Mortuus, Ondskapt, Watain and Marduk. And with their debut full length being delayed for well over 10 years (due to Hakola’s gang-banger activities and the forces of Chaos getting pissy over the album release), I’m just pleased that their second full length sees the light of day during my lifetime!
Thaumiel’s album artwork is deliciously dark and disturbing and ties in perfectly with the occult theme of the band and album as a whole. Sadly, I have no idea who the artist is – after all, its hardly kvlt for black metal bands to make album information too easy for reviewers to find. Based on my own educated guess, the two faces represent the two faces of the Kabbalah religion or some such pagan notion.
Thaumiel kicks off with “Sisters of Rapture and Pestilence” and to say this track is about as infectious as the bubonic plague is an understatement! AMG hit the nail on the head with his take on the album. While “Sisters of Rapture and Pestilence,” “Setnacht” and “Prayers Unto Warpen Etenities” lean towards being slow to mid-paced offerings, they’re brimming with simple, catchy, evil riffs that wrap themselves around your mind in snake-like fashion and squeeze, squeeze, squeeze! The latter half of the album and especially, “Chosekh En Sof”, “Chained To Redemption” and “Via Noctis – Veil of Gargophias” pick up the pace somewhat, offering a return to traditional blast beats so familiar in the Second Wave of Black Metal.
While “Undead Moon” ended up being among my favourite tracks on Thaumiel, I don’t feel it should have been included as part of this offering. It breaks the flow and fits in with the remainder of the album about as well as a square peg in a round hole. So looking at “Undead Moon” independently of Thaumiel and barring Shining’s latest album release (I still need to beat that into submission) I’m unashamedly a fangirl when it comes to all things Kvarforth (including his clean vocals) and so it didn’t take long for “Undead Moon” to find its way to the top of my playlist. Next up on my list of favourites ended up being a track that I thought should have closed off the album rather than being jammed randomly in the middle: “Chosekh En Sof.” This track finishes on such a pinnacle with a ghostly piano piece and the following quote cut direct from the 1979 film Caligula, ‘I have existed from the morning of the world and I shall exist until the last star falls from the night. I am all men as I am no man and therefore I am a God.‘ – Epic, epic stuff! [Caligula would have heartily approved this here album – Steel Druhm]
Recorded in Endarker Studio, and mixed and mastered by Devo of Marduk’s fame, the production is clean and modern and vocals are well placed in the mix, never coming across as being overshadowed by the relentlessness of the blast beats or the riffs. So in case the rating and Thaumiel’s status as October’s AoTM hasn’t clued you in on the quality of this outstanding release – I’ll say it plainly, this is an outstanding release and I fear it’s going to be tough to find another black metal album that’ll top Thaumiel in 2012. Congrats on a stellar album!