In 10 years, Deathspell Omega has evolved from typical black metal to perhaps metal’s most idiosyncratic sound. Over time, standard minor chords acquired mysterious extensions. 2004’s Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice was the first step outside the box. The next year’s Kénôse plunged into skewed tonalities and bruising percussion, as if Wu-Tang Clan instrumentals went black metal on Mars. 2007’s Fas – Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum was cleaner and more regal. Its chords came in settings of exotic gems.
Now comes Chaining the Katechon (Norma Evangelium Diaboli, 2008), a 22-minute track that sums up DsO so far. Some of the old conventional tonalities creep back in, but otherwise, otherworldly chords dominate. The blastbeats have more pace now – but what’s with the over-compressed production? Did Andy Sneap sneak into the studio? The plastic drums are the only blot here. Damned if I understand the lyrics, but they, like the music, make for worthwhile work. As with DsO’s post-2004 output, the theology is thick.
I am curious how the band recorded this. Did they do it in parts? Some of DsO’s previous output suggests suites stitched together with studio magic. Not that it really matters – Deathspell Omega is about the supernatural. “The task to be achieved, human vocation / Is to become intensely mortal / Not to shrink back / Before the voices coming from the gallows tree.” Humans harnessing inhumanity: mission more than accomplished.