Below is the original version of Deathspell Omega's "Abscission," which comes from 2010's excellent Paracletus.

And here's a cover version of the same song by Patrons of the Rotting Gate, the one-man black metal band whose excellent debut album The Rose Coil made my personal best-of-2013 list.


The Patrons version doesn't perfectly replicate the DSO original, but it comes damn close. This isn't the first cover that Patrons main man Andrew Millar has done — he arranged a metal version of the Gorguts string-quartet instrumental "The Battle of Chamdo" as a bonus track for The Rose Coil, and he also published a Heirophant cover recently. But the DSO cover strikes me as especially noteworthy for two reasons.

First, it's really impressive. "Abscission" is far from the knottiest latter-era Deathspell Omega song, but it's still way above the average degree of complexity for black metal. How many musicians could a) learn and b) accurately replicate this composition by themselves, to say nothing of the recording and mixing process? The drums alone would be too much for most.

Second, it's relatively unusual for a one-man black metal band to do something like this. Such bands usually obscure themselves behind veils of anonymity and fuzzy-photo'd mystique; if they record covers at all, they usually go for canon bands like Bathory or Burzum. (Leviathan's great cover of Black Flag's "My War" is a notable exception.) But here's Andrew Millar, using his real name, openly and laboriously paying tribute to a recent album that has influenced him a great deal. He didn't save the recording for a cassette demo or a 7" limited to a run of 20. Instead, he just posted it on Bandcamp. He doesn't wear corpsepaint. You can find pictures of him looking like a regular dude on Facebook. He is part of a new breed of black metal musicians who, for better or for worse, have done away entirely with the genre's quasi-mystical extracurricular trappings. The spotlight falls squarely on the music instead. Some people probably don't like it that way, but I could get used to it.

The Rose Coil recently received its first physical pressing via The Path Less Traveled Records. You can order it here.

— Doug Moore