Saturday, 31 October 2009

Deathspell Omega 'Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice' (2004)

What's that? Black metal is a silly genre and about as far removed from 'frightening' as I could post on All Hallows' Eve?
Well slap on your best over-ear heddfones because you've clearly not heard what France's most innovative extreme metal group have to offer. This breaks the Norwegian monopoly on a fading, self-parody of a sub-genre.

I never thought I'd truly enjoy a black metal album in my lifetime, but y'know what? I was wrong. First there's the guitar work, a lot of characteristically high-end, dissonant stuff with murky lo-fi production that just sounds otherworldly and hellish - about as far removed as you can get from thrash-derived cliche, with its own kind of beauty.

Then the mixing and 'ambience' of the album holds everything together and drowns out any potentially embarassing secular rambling. Strangely enough, the end product really is unsettling; primarily because it doesn't summon the image of greasy-haired misanthropes in smelly leather trenchcoats so much as it does demons eating babies. Deathspell channel Hades in ways that speed metal has never attempted before: atmospheric sampling, reverse guitar, various unidentifiable tics and sound degradation effects (à la Burial) and a Wall of Sound so devastating it would flatten the business district of Manhattan in a Roland Emmerich movie. In fact the wall of sound is literally a wall insomuch as they seem to have flattened the onslaught, ironed out the spikes that normally make various extreme metal subgenres difficult to endure for long periods - the album washes over you like an oil slick (stopping to punch you in the head a few thousand times on the way).

Speed is by no means the order of the day (although of course there are blast beats aplenty) but neither do Deathspell lapse into the tacky keyboards and melody of many contemporaries... This is punishing stuff for the uninitiated - and the overpowering delivery from the fringes of sonic reason and (shockhorror) lack of guitar solos is, I think, what earns Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice its acclaim and reputation as a 'scary' album. It's a bona fide 'Reign In Blood' for the 21st century, and equally suited to clearing every last muthafucka out the room.

It's also great to study to. Or maybe that's just me...
I meant what I said about over-ear phones btw - you'll miss a lot of the subtleties otherwise. Youtube samples fail to capture this.

satan's all about the free will and junk

1 comment:

j said...

yaknow, i never would have imagined myself getting into a black metal, either, although i am a metal devotee, but have recently been surprised to find myself really getting into a lot of that shit. A lot of times, i am impressed, because i get the feeling they REALLY DON'T GIVE A SHIT, if i like it or not. I have to say, Burzum is the fucking shit and well worth a listen, and check out Vlad Tepes who were also from France and truly have a demented, infernal quality and the absolute WORST SOUND QUALITY i have ever heard, and i was a devoted noise junkie for a long time. And i mean this in a good way.
Thanks for the record.