Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Deathspell Omega "Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice"

Year: 2004

Label: Norma Evangelium Diaboli

"First Prayer" is an awful track. Five minutes (minvtes?) of dissonant guitars at a tempo so slow it would make the average EyeHateGod fan cry for them to speed it up with occasional mumbling. Things kick off in earnest with "Sola Fide I". While the production is somewhat muddy (as is often the case with black metal), an attentive ear is rewarded with some nice guitar orchestrations and the occasional odd time signature.

"Sola Fide II" continues the jagged riffing of its sister track. The only complaint I would levy against it is these two tracks is that the band should have made them segue a little more smoothly since it seems one is supposed to be a continuation of the other. "Sola Fide II" does forgo some of the shifting tempos of part one and maintains a fast tempo through most of the 7:53 running time.

"Second Prayer" is more arpeggiated distorted guitars and gibberish during the intro before shifting into something that sounds like a black metal version of Angels Egg-era Gong. The first third of "Blessed Are the Dead Whiche Dye in Lorde" is fairly standard black metal... hyperblast drumming, tremolo picked guitars and the like. The interesting parts come about 1:30 to 2:00 minutes in which the guitars begin playing dissonant arpeggiated riffs with a distinctly French sound to them.

"Hetoimasia" is a song with a fairly typical black metal song structure. Fast verses featuring dense minor third power chords riffs played with the typical tremolo picking which occasionally gives way to the always expected mid-paced 12/8 waltz. A good song, though not terribly interesting.

Ahhh, a "Third Prayer" now. Structurally, it is the same as "Second Prayer". To put it bluntly, I didn't like it. The title track leans on black metal's tendency toward almost prog metal-like arrangements. No one theme lasts too long. The drums, while primitive, pull some interesting pseudo-polyrhythmic bits during the faster parts.

"Odium Nostrum" is, melodically, pretty repetitive. The guitars switch about between one or two riffs. As the drumming goes, this is a highlight. "Jubilate Deo (O' Be Joyful In The Lord)" is 3:37 of funeral music played at a fast tempo before coming to a false ending. The arpeggiated section that ensues after this blows the momentum of the song, but is not enough to drag down the overall quality.

At 11:34, "Carnal Malefactor" is the longest song on the album. 11 minute tracks in black metal are something of a mixed bag, when they're good... they're really good... but when they're bad, they're awful beyond words. The tendency of some bands is to make them overly repetitious. Unfortunately for Deathspell Omega, this track falls into the latter camp by featuring a rather long section of monk-like chanting from about 3:44 to 7:50. Rather unfortunate because the rest of the song is good.

"Drink the Devil's Blood" is a welcome relief after enduring 4 minutes of Gregorian chants. "Malign Paradigm" is an instrumental track with a somewhat doomy feel to it. Around the 2:20 mark a somewhat garbled soundscape is placed on top of it. All in all, Deathspell Omega don't exactly reinvent the wheel. The production is a little off, and the vocals are so muddy you really can't understand what is being said most of the time. Musically, though, the band are interesting enough to hold the attention of anyone who isn't an uppity prog metal snob or an anti-growling hipster.

Score: 3.5/5

Key Songs: Sola Fide I/II, Blessed are the Dead Which Dye in Lorde, Drink the Devil's Blood

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