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There is nothing on this record that can invoke in me a feeling even remotely related to joy or appreciation. It is just empty. Hollow. Void. It’s an hour and a half long endurance test which, in my opinion, would be best suited for torturing political criminals into confessing high treason. The few good ideas found on this album, which are not a direct rip-off of other famous and not so famous bands, are mercilessly drowned into a sea of mediocrity and meaninglessness.
I must admit that I am really being subjective here. I hold a strong dislike for French black metal in general, and I particularly despise Deathspell Omega. I pretty much hate everything this band represents within black metal. I hate their pretentious, over the top “sophisticated” lyrics, trying to come off as “the thinking man’s” black metal, I hate their boasting of the rather dumb, if you ask me, Orthodox Satanist philosophy. I normally have no issues with any sort of ideology fused into the music – I enjoy quite a few NSBM albums (Absurd, for example), and I really dig Funeral Mist. But these are examples of bands that have what it takes to make a great album, which, of course, is great music – not the case here. I hate Deathspell Omega’s fans who pretend to be said “thinking man”, and for whom it is not that uncommon to not be that much into black metal at all.
It would seem to me that the intention was to make the album GRAND in every sense of the word, but it just falls short on every front. Imagine receiving a Christmas present in a box big enough to fit a whole car in, but there is only a fucking baseball inside – that’s what this album really is, stripped of all the cocky pretensions, useless “prayers” and Gregorian chants (which might be cool in their own right, but not when put right in the middle of a (supposedly) black metal album) and all rip-offs taken away. What is left is technical, I admit, but at the end soulless and empty playing which simply cannot grab your attention and borderline annoying, "intelligent" lyrics.
Musically this album does not offer absolutely anything that you haven't heard thousands of times already, even if you are only a casual black metal fan. Random ambience is scattered throughout the album in the form of "prayers" aiming to create dark, brooding atmosphere. Yet the sheer fact that they had to do that is proof that the album lacks musical quality and ideas. "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" doesn't have any of these, yet it still manages to make you feel like it's witching hour at the graveyard. Everything on this album is just so generic and predictable. Take every black metal-cliche you can think of, put them all together and voila! Most of the songs consist of a couple of riffs and the simplest of drum patterns and follow the formula "mid paced beginning - chanting/wailing - flurry" , with the occasional swapping of positions. Not a single time does the album deviate from this oh so well established black metal formula, leading to complete indistinguishableness of the songs, ultimately making this album harmless background noise at best. The vocal delivery is your standard black metal rasp, often slowed down to almost a talk, at times akin to Attila Csihar, but nowhere near his level.
It is not that Deathspell Omega are bad musicians, they certainly are talented. What they fail to do, or perhaps weren’t even trying to do, is put that talent to action and actually make music of any relevance and substance, instead of relying solely on aesthetics and trying to convey some sort of message which nobody really cares about, with the exception of confused individuals, mostly kids, who mistake random usage of latin words with higher intellectual capabilities.
But alas, the majority was foolish enough to be convinced that this inflated balloon actually has any musical value. This joke of a band was hailed as the leaders of a new wave of black metal, one that would push aside the boundaries and lead the way to new planes of existence for the genre. Of course, none of this happened and I hope this band fades back into the obscurity from whence it came, but still the mind boggles as to how on Earth did they get all the hype they did.
It is extremely hard to find any redeeming qualities of this album, apart from the band members’ sheer technical skill, which, sadly, was used to create such an abomination. I guess the ending of Sola Fide II was interesting, I actually listened to it a second time, after I barely got through the whole album for the first time. Apart from that, this album is to be ignored and never spoken of, in hopes that it would one day be erased from the collective consciousness of the black metal genre. Do not buy it under any circumstances. If you already have done so, then I strongly suggest you watch one of those YouTube videos on how to open a beer bottle – I am certain they had a “how to open a beer bottle with a CD” – part. That way you can actually put this garbage to some real use.