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Originally "Chaining the Katechon" was part of a split vinyl album with S.V.E.S.T. but was made a separate EP for the disc version which is available in North America through Southern Lord. A mighty pairing the split vinyl album would have been if you know S.V.E.S.T. as well as DSO with DSO's intense and complex music complementing and contrasting well against the other band's whirlwind BM psychedelia.
The 22-track plays like a mini-album of several pieces. The intro goes straight for your jugular and holds tight: it's brutal, it's intense, raw and aggressive with blazing guitars and incredible nuclear-powered drumming. Suddenly it all shrinks back into a long-ish, loping piece of laidback doom and if that weren't enough, the music melts away into an almost acoustic passage dominated by howling nauseous guitar.
Around the 7th minute we have an interesting scrapey loop of snare drum lording it over the rest of the music; this is actually an important part of the track as it repeats much later on.
Blasting black metal comes back with redoubled fury but again and again it moves aside to introduce quite warped passages of music where guitars can bounce off or slide up and down pixillated drumming sequences that may owe a debt to jazz improv. There's even a section around the 13th minute or thereabouts where the music drops into a dance-worthy groove if such a thing can be possible with DSO!
Onwards the music continues and while it alternates punches of black metal blast fury with loping passages of doom, melodic post-rock flights of fancy and spurts of off-tune, off-beat experimentation, we may glance at the lyrics which show a preoccupation with metaphysics and a universe dominated by an indifferent and much less powerful God than religion has forced us to expect. Life and Death turn out to be two sides of the one prison from which we cannot escape.
At about the 18th minute, the scooping rhythm we met much earlier barges in again, leading us through a gale of trumpeting guitar drone into an extended coda of doomy metal highlighted by deep, clean-toned vocals. The coda ends very decisively on one note.
Overall this is an impressive opus of consistent and sustained black metal anger and intensity combining trad BM blasts with unexpected moments of melodic post-rock, introspective loping cowboy doom and jazz-inspired experimentation. The vocals are the weakest part of the track, not varying as much as the music does, but they're not much more than a textural element in the music anyway. DSO should be credited with maintaining such a consistent level of intensity, tightness and intricacy in a very long track.
'Chaining The Katechon' - Deathspell Omega (10/10)
Deathspell Omega is a band that has had the same effect on me that only a few others like Opeth, Blotted Science, and Voivod have had on me earlier in my life; they have effectively changed the way I look at metal. With Deathspell in particular, they demonstrated to me how far the black metal style could be pushed forward. and ever since, their modern classic of controlled madness 'Fas, Ite - Maledicti, In Ignem Aeturnum' has been one of my top favourites. Naturally, I was spurred to listen to as much Deathspell Omega as I could after hearing how incredible these guys are, and while their earlier output certainly does not have the same impact on me as does the later, I do consider them to be a remarkably consistent band, and absolute innovators. Leave it to a band like this then to create an EP that leaves my jaw dropping.
'Chaining The Katechon' (also known in longform as 'Veritas Diaboli Manet In Aeturnum: Chaining The Katechon') is a single song EP that lasts twenty minutes long. Much like a progressive epic, this is a single suite of complex composition where Deathspell Omega brings their greatest elements to the table; their darkly philosophical and disturbing lyrical content, their madly technical and dissonant performance standard, and that pleasant sensation of having one's soul torn open and having hell pour in, you know, the sort of atmosphere that only a band like DSO could foster. Despite merely being an EP, this is wildly challenging music, and there are enough musical layers and ideas to keep a listener busy for weeks. 'Chaining The Katechon' begins abruptly, jumping straight into a barrage of musical fury and Deathspell Omega's trademark rasps. Beginning an epic without any flowery build up introduction is startling, but it works so well; there is not a second on the epic that seems meant to fill up the disc time.
While 'Fas' was an album intentionally void of much in the way of 'beauty', there are actually some melodies this time around, although not nearly enough to make the band any more accessible. For the most part, this is a continuation of the sound on the band's fourth album, but in between bouts of madness and technical loops, there are parts here where some melodies from the guitars are allowed to escape from the wall of sound and be heard. Most times, these melodies aren't beautiful in the traditional sense, but when compared to the very ugly and complex fury that Deathspell Omega is used to churning out, it is a really welcome change of pace.
The guitars all feel dissonant and out-of-tune, so it becomes so surprising that Deathspell Omega is able to craft some massively powerful grooves with them. More than a few times here, Deathspell changes up their tempo and allows for a slower, but still intense aggression that is sure to get heads banging along, despite the avant-classical sensibility here that would make one think this was purely music to sit down and carefully analyze. This is indeed music to feed the intellect, but that doesn't mean to say that there aren't parts here that will get the listener fueled as well.
One last thing I will mention about the album are the vocals. As one could have guessed, the rather standard rasps here are the least impressive thing that Deathspell Omega goes for on 'Chaining The Katechon', but I have found it strangely poignant and interesting that no matter how intense and complex the instrumentation and music gets, the vocals maintain their reserved stance, rasping away, but rarely letting loose. The strength of having the vocals in this music are obviously for the lyrics- which are common to go into bouts of archaic Latin- and while they may be mixed just a little too highly compared to the rest of the sound, these dismal rasps only compliment the dark atmosphere that the band crafts here.
'Chaining The Katechon' is easily one of the most profound EPs I have ever heard, not only in black metal, but in my experience with any music. There is more than enough musical depth here to be worth the same concentration that a full-length album would warrant, and no matter how many listens I put into this thing, I always seem to be hearing new things in it.
How does one follow up a masterpiece like Fas Ite Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum? Well, aside from the two excellent Manifestations comps from earlier this year...this is your answer. A new EP with a single track clocking in over 22 minutes, and damned good.
To begin, there isn't a large stylistic difference from some of the faster material on the previous album. Parts of the EP sound as if they'd fit right into Fas Ite Maledicti..., but these are timed cautiously amid a depressing yet beautiful journey of slower, progressive post-black metal with swerving, graceful guitars and pensively structured rasping. Several passages beyond the midpoint of the track exhibit a further experimentation in bizarre, discordant material, including some horns.
In the end, "Chaining the Katechon" never dulled for me, it was an intriguing listen throughout, with is more than I can say for many of these long, single-track albums and EPs. It should appeal to any fans of the band's more modern material, their previous 'trilogy' of albums. For myself, Deathspell Omega is the true master of French black metal, a band which has delivered solid old school records but evolved into something far more throughout the years. This EP is further evidence of that, and I cannot wait until the next full-length.
One song. Twenty-two minutes and twelve seconds. And not one second is wasted. Right from the start, Deathspell Omega immerse you in their dissonant terror and never let up until the track ends. This one song, "Chaining The Katechon", is a meaty slab of some of the most sinister Black Metal I have ever heard, crammed into one massive track with not a dull moment.
The passages weaved in this dark epic range from sheer horror and chaos to scarred beauty with an underlying tone of dissonance, not unlike some passages from Mastodon's songs such as Siberian Divide or Quintessence, though dissonance is the only similarity as Deathspell Omega's unique void is undoubtedly Black Metal. From the minor progressions to the precision blast beats to the piercing riffs, this is a Black Metal release at heart.
But please, don't lump this in with the familiar Black Metal formula, whether it be the grim and frostbitten feel of Darkthrone, the atmospheric nature-worship of Wolves In The Throne Room, the breakneck blastbeats of Dark Funeral, the symphonic gloss of Dimmu Borgir... No, Deathspell Omega have something unique that is completely their own, a bold anchor firmly rooted on fresh ground within Black Metal and "Chaining The Kacheton" roots that anchor even deeper by creating something that is bold and striking in refreshing ways. This is twenty-two minutes and eleven seconds of some of the most challenging Metal I've heard in a while, something that will take more than its moneys worth in plays to digest, not because it's incomprehensible, but because there is just so much sheer brilliance and creativity packed in here. Hell, even the lyrics and concept are interesting.
Really, the only fault here lies in a quality vs quantity issue, where the quality is so high that the lack of quantity hurts all the more. Regarding the actual music provided, it can feel like the song has distinct movements, like they could have taken a couple conceptually-similar songs and stuck them together, though this is only apparent because a few pauses are a slightly longer than I felt they should have been, and is quickly forgotten as the music engulfs you.
In the end, Deathspell Omega have something wonderful on their hands, more vile and dissonant than anything I've heard in a long while, yet completely musical and at times, beautiful. The fact that this is an EP hints at what their next full-length album will sound like, and until it arrives to reign its inevitable maelstrom on us, Chaining The Katechon will remain a fascinating piece of Black Metal work for many plays to come.
Ever since Si Monumentum Requires Circumspice, which appeared five years ago, Deathspell Omega have taken a path that only the bravest take; a more avant-garde and progressive approach on the codes and norms of black metal, a musical sub-genre that is recognized for its lo-fi cacophony and satanic blasphemy. Before this album, this band was just another typical Darkthrone copycat, scorching through our ears with the sharp tremolo picking and the numerous arrays of blast beats all in between. However, things have definitely changed for this band and they did for the better.
Most recently on December 2008, they issued an EP called Veritas Diaboli Manet in Aeternum : Chaining the Katechon with another black metal named S.V.E.S.T. This mini-album proves that the band are no longer afraid to sail through uncharted territories. The last effort, Fas - Ite, Maledicti, In Ignem Aeternum was their most technical, most frightening and most intelligent record up to date with its cinematic environment, progressive and odd structures, and most importantly the top-notch production of the record, which is surprising in black metal, even for a band like Deathspell Omega. Another aspect that should be noted is Mikko Aspa's - the band's current vocalist - varied, yet atrocious and savage display of vocals. He sings like the Luciferian lord himself; a fact that should be comprehended in many ways.
Basically, Chaining the Katechon is a twenty-two minute song which is divided in three sections. The first one begins with the trademark hysteria which has become familiar over the course of the last five years; blast-beats accompanied with frenetic, systematic obliteration from Hasjarl's songwriting, who is the main guitarist of the band. Nevertheless, the band knows how to do transitions from fast to slow every time. The discordance that appeared on the last album appears once more during those transitions. But then, as things seemingly get more and more intense, Hasjarl pulls a trick up his sleeve; echoed, distant and structured riffs appear one by one. It's a calmer sight and he knows the pure meaning of reverb in this one. The riffs are simply put well-executed and extremely more controlled, even though they are jarring. The atmosphere gets even calmer with a page taken from progressive bands such as Opeth and Cult of Luna with a monotonous, almost sliding and plummeting passage. Then, a scream unleashed itself and you find yourself lost, buried under thick layers of technical depravity. The riffs, in other words, do not make sense. They are distant, skeletal and inhuman, but surprisingly controlled and very coherent; a contradiction in some sense. Another thing that surprised me was the percussions and its methodical, play-by-play arrangement. I expected something more confusing, but they possess an interesting balance, even though sometimes things get out of control very fast. Near the end of that section, chaos ensues with blast-beasts, discordant, technical riffs and a pinnacle that can be found in Mikko Aspa's irreverent despair.
The second section is almost similar to the first one with the recognizable beginning, but it slows down further and further, which reminds me of those free-jazz improvisations. The riffs are again extremely discordant, but smoother and excruciating. More technical wankery gets in the way, but in such perfect colour. Repetitive, yet isolated. Illogical, yet well-executed. It's a mammoth of odd time signatures. Think Meshuggah opposed to Darkthrone. It'll give you a clear picture. Another interesting passage in this section displays itself by that characteristic repetition and discordant display. All of a sudden, after blast-beats come one by one, the drums are becoming groovier and the discordance complements itself with that atmosphere. A jazzy, riddled combination of both dissonant riffs and low, shaky bass lines shows itself in this section. Afterwards, it's even more discordant and confusing from now on, but sophisticated, intriguing and "stylish" in its forms. Near the end, a chant fills the whole background, giving the song an orchestral feel. Remember that brutal passage near the end of the first section? It comes back with open arms, but even more dazzling and cruel than before.
Finally, the last section might give us a preview of what's to come on the next album; clean vocals!!! Mikko Aspa's chants are primitive, yet surprisingly well-adapted into the mix. The section is even slower, unbearable but also more perplexing with the puzzled, indistinct riffs.
Overall, Deathspell Omega is a band that represents the future of black metal and undoubtedly, its saviours with the immense amount of technicality and experimentation, the first-rate production and of course, the ideology of avant-garde and progressive music with the jazzy, elegant passages in this album. Simply put, they are challenging in every aspect. Even though the album is less intense than Fas, you cannot help but wonder what lies ahead in their next, awaited third effort of their 'trilogy'. Chaining the Katechon might give a preview of what's to come.
Standout tracks : It is meant to be listened to as a whole!!!
The single track album is certainly a high-class action in the world of music. I’m actually surprised that more bands don’t try it more often. Thankfully most artists that attempt to pull off such effort succeed.
While I’m sure many black metal elitists would hate to hear me say this, but I personally think that Deathspell Omega is moving on from black metal to some other kind of metal, exactly what I’m not sure. The raspy vocals have become more of a croak come out surprisingly clear, with only a hint of reverb, which would likely fit in with many black metal outings. The drums also have a strange sound, which for the most part have decent production and tuning, and there is the odd black metal blast beat, yet there’s something else about the tone I just can’t quite put my finger on. But it’s those guitars that fuel this machine with dissonant tones, off times, jagged, noisy arpeggios and even a few moments where they’re pulled slightly out of tune. The out-of-tune effect works extremely well, as do all the other elements drawn together, as it creates a discordant, strange and extremely unsettling atmosphere. This is a place where you don’t want to be and where terrible acts occur, especially when the tempo runs at slower paces, which this EP does for most of it’s running time.
To be fair though, while this EP was listed as having only one track, yet the pauses and changes come in at just the right moment to cause you to think that this may in reality be a three to five track EP. All the songs fit in with the same psychotic theme, but for the most part if you’re paying attention, it doesn’t feel like one 22-minute song. Even under the interpretation of an EP, this is still wonderful at scaring you.
Originally posted at www.waytooloud.com