Deathspell Omega

Infernal Battles

Deathspell Omega - Infernal Battles ©2000 Northern Heritage
1. The Victory of Impurity
2. Drink the Devil’s Blood
3. Extinction of the Weak
4. Sacrilegious Terror
5. Raping Human Dignity
6. The Ancient Presence Revealed
7. Knowledge of the Ultimate Void
8. Death’s Reign (Human Futility)

In comparison to their recent output, Deathspell Omega’s debut album is not at all indicative of the bewildering, thrilling, and altogether unsettling direction the band would go on later albums. Rather, Infernal Battles sticks to the tried and true formula of raw, Darkthrone-influenced black metal: abysmal production, blast beats, raspy vocals and a distinct lack of low end in an insufferably tinny guitar tone. However, what the band lacked in finesse and dynamics they made up for with an almost palpable sense of spite and anger. At the end of the day, though, Infernal Battles stands as more of a curiosity listen than necessary purchase. One would imagine that it did nothing to move the genre forward upon its release in 2000. I would suggest newcomers proceed directly to the more mature Inquisitors of Satan or, especially, Si Monumentum Requires Circumspice.

Review by Alec A. Head

Review date: 04/2009

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Fas - Ite, Maledicti, In Ignem Aeternum

Deathspell Omega - Fas - Ite, Maledicti, In Ignem Aeternum ©2007 Norma Evangelium Diaboli
1. Obombration
2. The Shrine Of Mad Laughter
3. Bred Of Bitterness
4. The Repellent Scars Of Abandon And Election
5. A Chore For The Lost
6. Obombration

Deathspell Omega has been quietly plying away at their craft for years, but it wasn’t until their third full-length, 2004’s Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice that they became a truly formidable force within the black metal scene. Whereas most black metal is focused on all things sanctimonious in a forced and contrived manner, Deathspell Omega, on each subsequent album, has been able to push boundaries in such a way as to make their music sound genuinely terrifying. Even their lyrics, free of “hail satan” affectations, read as if they are really cryptic theological theses. These lyrics, combined with the savage and serpentine music, make to create a genuinely unique sound. 2005’s stop-gap EP Kenose (along with a string of split EPs) furthered this idea, sometimes veering more into Voivod-like dissonance and progressive atonality. Now, on their newest album, considered the “sequel” to a trilogy started with Si Monumentum, Deathspell Omega has combined the violence of Si Monumentum with the progressive elements of Kenose along with a strong death metal lean (think Immolation at their best), and in so doing created one of the most dense and truly scary albums this side of Strapping Young Lad. In a few words, sheer, hellish chaos.

Of course, this would all be for naught if the music itself did not completely kick ass, which it does, in spades. The sheer scope of the music is a lot to take in, as one is beaten repeatedly over the head with razor-sharp guitar riffs, raging blast-beats, samples of monks chanting, and Mikko Aspa’s impressive rasps. When the band does slow things down, it is usually to a serpentine crawl featuring guitar arpeggios that go out of their way to avoid melody wherever possible, or to ambient choral/piano passages that act like a portent of further dread and chaos. Hasjarl has seen to fit to add some very impressive lead guitar work to the proceedings (the tasteful soloing that signals the last two minutes of “The Repellent Scars of Abandon and Election” and the layered solos at the end of “A Chore for the Lost” are particularly effective). In fact, on a whole, Hasjarl has revealed himself to be quite the guitar wizard, seamlessly jumping from Daniel Ash-like post-punk fury to black metal malevolence to sweeping arpeggios and back again. The drumming, executed by somebody who has been hitherto unrevealed by the band, is almost ridiculous to behold.

Once the density and suffocating nature of the album is left to sink in, Fas – Ite, Maledicti, in Ignum Aeturnum, is a pretty damned impressive black metal album, and one that will probably to continue to reveal more of itself for a long time after. Highly recommended to only the most adventurous of listeners.

Review by Alec A. Head

Review date: 10/2007

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