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A bitter conclusion... - 95%

DSOfan97, November 4th, 2015

And so, it comes to an end. The trilogy that shaped black metal is over eight years after the first installment. Deathspell Omega were a band known for the poor quality of their efforts until 2004 when they released Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice. From that point they became an essential listen for every black metal lover in the globe. Their eccentric style and obsession with the veil that surrounds the identities of the band members has been remarkable, as we are still searching for information here and there.

But lets get started with Drought. Apart from the fact that it has the least flashy title of all their works, it has everything it needs to stand tall among them. The heavy atmosphere, twisted musical forms and the technicality, it's all here. The only thing that it lacks in comparison with the full-lengths is the lack of focus during some critical points. The band is in great shape and they deliver their throat-grasping kind of metal perfectly. But at the same moment this is also their least black metal release. The list of influences is vast ranging from classic black metal to jazz, post rock, punk and maybe even some noise music. Deathspell have been influenced by those genres since Kenose but only in FAS and in here those influences have been so easy to trace.

The strummed minor chord in the beginning of Salowe Vision announces what is to come; Deathspell's least violent and most bitter work ever. There is a feeling of regret in the atmosphere. I feel that the lyrics and music expand on what the band suspected in Apokatastasis Panton; God has left this world since the beginning. In Fiery Serpents it is clearly said that 'the dice were loaded'.

I've heard many people say that this the trilogy's nadir. I disagree. It might not be a mini Paracletus (how could that be possible after all) or a second FAS- Ite... but it is something great on its own. Hasjarl having rightfully earned a spot among the genre's most important guitarists, continues to amaze with his endless creativity, while Khaos who has reached new levels in terms of keeping his identity secret, easily crafts some nicely composed basslines. The percussion are once again at the top of their game with all those insane rolls and beats. As for Mikko, he just does what he knows best and he does not disappoint.

But this time the band had one more weapon in their arsenal and that is the magnificent production. Making the whole band sound like one instrument that relentlessly punches your ear drums, it is on par with the production of Chaining the Katechon. However music-wise I prefer this one hence the higher rating. The cover art might not be as original as it looks but it works for the themes of the album.

Many think that a concept EP that closes a concept trilogy is kind of an exaggeration. But the value of this work is beyond belief. It is as if you are instantly depraved of oxygen when you hit the play button. There is some sort of a drought but not in the physical no-water sense. It is a spiritual matter and it shall be regarded as such, the whole trilogy should. It is both depressing and enthralling, seeing your favorite band walking out on a high note and Deathspell Omega did just that. Will they return to discography? Nobody knows that for sure. Is it necessary? Fuck no. They deserve to go off with their heads up high. I sure hope for a return but their trilogy will work as a musical oasis. Including this amazing EP.

Favorite tracks: 'Fiery Serpents', 'Abrasive Swirling Murk', 'The Crackled Book of Life'.

95/100.

A defining record in the French metal scene. - 100%

curtis1567, September 4th, 2013

Wow... Just wow. No other words are apt enough to describe this monster of an EP. Deathspell Omega have completely redefined the French metal scene with Drought.

Throughout the whole recording, sludgy, thick-sounding guitars that add to the desolate atmosphere are present. Whether it is the heavy, slowly-progressing slab of doom that is Salowe Vision, or the fast-paced, incendiary Scorpions and Drought, the sludgy guitars are present, working their heaviness right into the soul. The guitar work in itself is amazing, with unorthodox time signatures to the melodies and riffs, making for a fascinating listen. Hasjarl has truly mastered his form here, and the proficiency he possesses in playing a mix of doom, avant-garde and black metal styles clearly shines through on the EP.

This is further compounded by the throaty, dark growls provided by Mikko Aspa. No other vocals will work on this album; Mikko Aspa has a unique growl that sounds midway between a growl and a scream that gives a grating sound to his vocals. This enhances the dark atmosphere of the album, sending the listener on a dark, gloomy trip of which the sights along the way are described by Satan himself. Honourable mention should also go to the bass; it is AUDIBLE, and the bassline in general also has the thick feel, giving the songs a very dense feeling of dread. This feeling is especially felt in the opening track, Salowe Vision, a very doom-influenced song that projects an immense feeling of impending doom which sets the bar for the rest of the album.

The lyrics are especially thought-provoking and abstract. Fiery Serpents, in its first verse, states the names of every one of the six songs on the EP:

"...I had a salowe vision
wherein were fiery serpents and scorpions and drought
...sand, in an abrasive swirling murk,
covered the crackled book of life..."

... Holy crap. What this implies is that this is a concept EP. Yes, let us take some time to fully absorb that: a CONCEPT EP. How often does a band actually release an EP with a well-thought out underlying concept for us to appreciate? Once more, Deathspell Omega tackle the themes of metaphysical Satanism and philosophy, and they tackle these themes with aplomb. Sometimes, lyrics have an intangible effect on the music, and this effect is genuinely felt here. In short, the lyrics are powerful enough to add to the brooding atmosphere.

All in all, Drought is one hell of an amazing, expressive EP, one in which Deathspell Omega have perfected their mix of black, doom, sludge and avant-garde. It certainly is no easy listening and might take many listens to get into, but one will be immensely rewarded upon "understanding" the EP. They have mastered their trade and completely changed the French metal scene for what it's worth. The tense, dark atmosphere present throughout the whole album and the sludgy edge of the guitars, along with the throaty growls, collide together as singular elements to form one whole dissonant yet cohesive album. I would say the best tracks on this EP are the softer songs, namely Salowe Vision, Sand and The Crackled Book of Life.

Pick this shit up. You won't regret it. It's going to be stuck in your music player for days, ages, droughts.

A proper ending - 100%

MazeofTorment, November 12th, 2012

“A testimony
from the dimension of regret.
This voice comes
from the second right after the disaster
when all there is left to say
in a distressed whisper is
It is too late.
The irreparable has been carved in stone
and those made accountable for it are you.”

This passage, conceptually speaking, is Drought in a nutshell. After completing a most momentous trilogy in 2010 with Paracletus, French extreme metal progenitors Deathspell Omega have returned with an EP release that nestles quite nicely into the avant-garde portion of the band’s career, serving as an appropriate epilogue to the aforementioned trilogy. The passage above says it all: the entire range and motion of this release is detached, yet intimately connected with all that has just come before it. Man’s primordial state, his Fall, his demented, religious fervency -all that- has met its end, and there’s nothing we can do about it, but lament the ordained fate that we ourselves brought to pass.

The flashes of melodic torment and ambient post rock noodling found on Paracletus find themselves accentuated and emphasized on Drought, where both the opening and closing tracks feature no vocalizations, but mostly clean, palatable excesses of the guitar that resound in the listeners ears; first, as an opening death knell that marks the final, famine plagued stage of the end times, and then, the earth shattering harmony that is the dissolution between God and Man. In between: complete and utter, dissonant chaos, with “Sand” being a brief intermission, and yet, a solemn reminder that the process is near completion.

“Sallowe Vision” excels at building the tension before all hell breaks loose on “Fiery Serpents”: a song that features the kind of competing, clashing chords the band became known for on Fas - Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum, and stop-start rhythms that Mathcore projects are often characterized by, thus hurling the listener headlong into the ever churning flames of absolution. However, this dive into chaos is suddenly reined in not even a minute and a half into the song, when one of the most brilliant, punishing, straight forward, melodic thrusts ever conceived by the band comes into play and annihilates the already beaten, devastated landscape with an array of blasts and fills. Indeed, the instruments on this release are played with the utmost precision and virtually every nuance can be heard via the excellent production, even in the most discordant of sections.

“Scorpions & Drought” continues in similar fashion, albeit almost more deliberate in its chaotic instrumentation that seems to have its peaks and valleys; always rising, then falling, only to return with another crescendo of voluminous, frenetic discord. Presiding over this multifarious effort is Mikko Aspa, whose raspy, pronounced vocals speak volumes throughout the internal section of Drought, offering the lucid, all-encompassing interpretation on “Abrasive Swirling Murk,” that it is a senseless chore to distinguish the human from the divine, when the acts of man and God were doomed to melt and merge from the start. To adhere to a belief system that privileges death over life and to lament the end after so many centuries of decadent, life denying gospel, is nothing short of lunacy. It is, in fact, the ultimate act of compassion for God to deny the dawning of a new day and is compared to the shooting in the head of a horse with a broken leg on the aforementioned track.

Yet, the sorrow is palpable on Drought and its climax is reached in the closing track “The Crackled Book of Life”, a song that builds tension very much like “Sallowe Vision,” but whose impact is much greater. Moans and groans can be heard amongst religious chants in the background as the bass and guitar, both notably, have their moments to shine, with the latter usurping the final sequence of the song with a clean, somber interjection that gives rise to the sound of mankind’s last gasp before extinction; a transcendently melodic riff that encapsulates the feeble cries of a species before the almighty void. It builds before dropping flat: leaving nothing but the light pacing of the drums and religious chanting to be heard before it all comes crashing back into focus, with the supporting guitars providing crunch around the clean, despondent riff that reverberates through the very soul; a last strain of the heart and mind between the crashing walls of annihilation.

The musicianship, the song writing, the production, the lyrics, the cover art– everything about this release is executed to perfection and properly caps off the bands hard work over the last several years, both musically and thematically. I invite everyone to explore the intricacies of Drought’s arrangements and meaning, as one can only wonder what direction the band will take next. One thing that is certain, however, is that, if this is the last reflection of mankind, it is one without a shadow; for we praised death under the guise of faith and called it God, and in the process lost any sense of existential, creative power we might have once had. We are nothing and its nothingness to which we’ll return, sheepishly or not.

Originally written on http://mitchellunderwood.blogspot.com/

Brilliant, just brilliant. - 97%

SonOfHades, August 28th, 2012

I'll be honest, this was the first Deathspell Omega release that I had ever listened to, and it has hooked me to their music for life now, it is just so good. Anyone could tell they took a step in the right direction after they took a more avant-garde detour, and this is certainly a huge step in the right direction. Other black metal bands I just find so boring, because they're doing something that has already been done 100 times over by someone else, but these guys have forged their own path in black metal, and this certainly shows how different from straight up, raw black metal they are, and how well they do it.

Although I didn't find the first song (Salowe Vision) very compelling, as I found it rather boring, the second (Fiery Serpents) blasted my ear drums 'till they bled from all the excellent riffs, changes in tempo, song structure and the amazing vocals from this French band's Finnish contingent - Mikka Aspa. I really loved how at one point it would be one great riff, then at another it's something completely different; but just as awesome. I'd like to compliment the drummer (or machine), however I do not know who or what did the drumming, and it doesn't look like I'll find out in the near future if all of the information about Deathspell Omega comes from interviews with band members from time to time.

Next up is Scorpions & Drought, which is sadly rather eclipsed by the song before it, however I paid close attention to it as I listened to the EP for the umpteenth time and I've come to the conclusion that it is also very good. Sand is one and a half minutes long, but has a great bass and guitar riff to it, which leads up to the next song: Abrasive Swirling Murk whose many bangs and crashes fit together really well to create a great and enjoyable song to lose many brain cells to headbanging. I do however, reserve a special love for the final track: The Crackled Book Of Life, which is a very interesting instrumental track. It starts off, with what I presume to be much string bending, and around one and a half minutes in all guitars cease and all that is left is a bass solo with light drumming behind it, which I actually enjoyed a whole lot. It all climaxes after some synth elements are added and the guitars come back in to end the song on a very good riff.

All in all, this is definately the best EP I've ever listened to (and I've listened to a fair few). The band certainly knew what they were doing when they created this masterpiece and I certainly hope they continue writing music like this for another album. I would thoroughly recommend this EP to anyone who is a fan of Deathspell Omega, as well as any black metal fan, as it is brilliant, just brilliant.

DSO diving deeper into ambient post-rock territory - 95%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, August 3rd, 2012

Another mighty missive from Deathspell Omega in the form of an mini-album EP and it's a surprise in that the band is expanding its sonic range into something more atmospheric, doomy and emotional. Opening track "... I had a salowe vision" (sic) is a brief yet astonishing foray into intense and bleak apocalyptic post-rock of ringing chords and lots of dark, anguished space recognisable to fans of Caina and Godspeed You Black Emperor perhaps. Suddenly "Fiery Serpents" explodes upon us in all its heavy, intricate yet melodic black metal fury: stop-start rhythms, nuclear-powered drumming, constantly twisting and turning arrangements, and occasional swanky passages of staccato riffing and drum rolls all overlaid by the familiar gnarly-snarly vocals. The tracks are very short and stop very abruptly and you wonder how the band manages to control its energy so well that each song is clear and distinct from the others and still manages to pack so much in the way of melody, rhythm and intense aggression into the space of about 3 - 4 minutes.

Can't believe we're halfway through the EP with "Sand", a confident swaggering piece with an off-kilter counter-melody to the main tune played on sparkle-toned electric guitar. Even that's an almost throwaway piece as "Abrasive Swirling Murk" pushes it aside with a complicated rhythm structure and more of those stuttering guitar riffs. This track builds down to a middling post-rock pace and (but for a brief pause) segues into "The cracked book of life" which unusually perhaps for DSO is quite a long instrumental piece of ambient post-rock groove with a trumpet loop surrounded by heavy guitar crunch and grind. A long mournful clean-toned guitar solo underlines the anguish of existence in which belief in a loving God is futile because God does not care about humanity and its misdeeds.

The recording may be very short (it's only 20 minutes in total) but there is such a lot packed into it that even DSO regulars must hear it a few times to register what the band has been able to do. Parts of the album can be quite trippy and quirky in the way guitar chords and notes can sometimes appear off-key against the rest of the music. The musicians are delving much deeper into the territory of atmospheric post-rock and might be taking on an avantgarde jazz influence as well, all the while maintaining a firm grip on their black metal foundation with their fuzzy rhythm guitars. As usual, the DSO lyrics are very dense and quite a mouthful for the vocalist to chant through. I am getting quite used to the idea of DSO releasing mini-albums rather than longer recordings: the mini-album format seems to suit the band's music very well, almost as if the musicians have to limit their exposure to their own stark and unwavering intensity or they'll end up absorbing too much radiant energy that their instruments release.

Reining in the chaos only makes it more powerful. - 100%

ConorFynes, July 9th, 2012

Yes, Deathspell Omega have gone punk. Yes, they have even gone pop. In fact, it's been recently announced that Deathspell Omega has been a weekend side project of Blink 182's Tom DeLonge, and through some coincidence, it has been misinterpreted as the continuation of a French band of the same name that broke up ten years ago. After such a cerebral and heavy handed album trilogy about theistic satanism, it's nice to hear Deathspell Omega throw away the evil and sing songs about pretty girls instead.

Jest aside, I can see why Deathspell Omega's latest EP "Drought" has been getting recognition as a change of pace for the enigmatic black metal outfit. They're still the same viciously technical bastards that they've been since their breakthrough "Si Monumentum..." record, but their sound is getting cleaner, and- I daresay- more coherent. For anyone who listened to their last full-length "Paracletus", this evolution from the unrelenting madness of "Fas - Ite, Maledicti, In Ignem Aeternum" to more concise song structures was predictable. Deathspell essentially pick up where they left off with "Paracletus", and with this comes a barrage of jaw-dropping complexity, malefic atmosphere, and some of the best flow I have ever heard on an EP. Black metal's greatest prog-enitors have struck gold once again.

On "Drought" and virtually everything they have done since "Fas...", Deathspell Omega create a quintessential black metal atmosphere, yet manage to do so with surprisingly few black metal conventions. Barring Aspa's trademark croak, and the occasional blast beat thrown between the inhuman permafills, Deathspell Omega have little now in common with the genre's core sound. The guitars are rapturous and dissonant, and may sound a little more like The Dillinger Escape Plan than I would like to admit. Amidst the confusion, there are plenty of thick grooves. Especially on a first listen, things can feel very chaotic, although- perhaps unlike the band's most challenging material- there's just enough melody and comprehensible rhythm in the music to make things coherent. Just enough.

Although the most exciting moments on "Drought" are the chaotic storms, a considerable portion of the album is devoted to some of the most melodic and mellowed ideas Deathspell have done since "Si Monumentum...". "Salowe Vision" is a wonderful opener, gradually building tension and atmosphere until "Fiery Serpents" erupts with the band's signature chaos. "The Crackled Book of Life" ends the EP in a heavier fashion than it started, although a beautiful melodic idea is hidden beneath the gradually fading rhythm. There are no stops in the music on "Drought"; though Deathspell have generally shortened the track lengths, the impression of a twenty minute epic- like their earlier "Chaining the Katechon"- is evoked to great benefit. Even the runt of the litter- the one minute "Sand"- has a place here.

For a long time, I have not been able to cite a band that's gone as far with the black metal style as Deathspell Omega. Even in making their song structures shorter and production cleaner, they still manage to sound as fierce and experimental as ever. I did not think that one of my favourite releases of the year would be an EP, but here it is. As a fan, I've been blown away once again, and as a reviewer, I can only give my highest recommendation. Absolutely phenomenal.

This is a review of Drought - 79%

Blackswordzman, June 28th, 2012

Deathspell Omega deliver a refined arrangement of their sound on Drought by compacting a potent handful of tracks into just 21 minutes while retaining the group’s illustrious suffocating density. Being their only EP with more than three songs and each being under 5 minutes, Drought is a distilled cogent sampler of their best attributes with a palpable aftertaste of things to come and is an excellent choice for anyone attempting to cut their teeth on Deathspell Omega’s unique brand of chaos for the first time.

The range of the music itself is dynamic, panning from thick and knotted oblique melodies and frenzied chaotic aggression to woefully angelic post rock/ambient influences. Each track offers its own brand of madness and complexity showcasing a different facet of Deathspell Omega’s unmatched style. Mikko continues to utilize his raspy growls to great effect and the drumming performance is still an insane mix of furious blast beats and impressive fills. With everyone on the mark the group continues to pave new ground through the metal sonic-sphere without missing a step.

The opener “Salowe Vision” paces itself with doomful conviction and enough mournful purpose to act as both a beautiful stand-alone song and introduction, something rarely implemented successfully. What proceeds is domination by a hellish aggression you would expect from the very best of Paracletus. Twisted and dark these songs rip you through a murky atonal undertow without pausing for breath. Yet each member’s contribution is clear and discernible thanks to the excellent production. The album’s latter half while at times slower and circumspect provides a balanced contrast to the rest of the EP providing a more stoic take on their obfuscated sound like the notably multifarious closer “The Crackled Book of Life” With such diversity, in the wake of the albums end listeners will be hard pressed to reach a mutual consensus for the best track which is likely to shift upon repeated listens.

Drought feels like a fitting epilogue to the two years since finished epic trilogy, perhaps not in ideology but rather a reaffirming summation of their accomplishments as well as a continued willing exploration, providing assurance that Deathspell Omega will be able to evolve their sound in new and interesting ways in the future and hopefully avoid the stagflating state of their genre whose conventions they continue to advance.

Deathspell Omega - Drought - 95%

Avestriel, June 22nd, 2012

Surprisingly enough, two years after their trilogy closer, Paracletus, which demonstrated a matured balance between the godlike, knotty mirage of seemingly incongruous technicality and tempo-madness of Fas[...] and the controlled, disciplined chaos of dissonance within more traditional structures that was Si Monumentvm[...], comes this, the first EP post-2005 by DSO that has more than one track.

In its considerably short length of just over 20 minutes, DSO presents us with a bridge between Paracletus and Fas. Perhaps it was intended as an epilogue of sorts to the trilogy; perhaps I'm thinking too much into things. The reality of the matter is that this little EP fits snugly between the previous two full-lengths more than any of the three 25~min. EPs recorded between 2005 and 2008 (not to mention the still developing pre-Fas chaotic and unrepentant sounds of Kénôse), and with reason. During this time, DSO has had time to refine their sound and mature their songwriting skills, and even though it is dwarfed by its older peers both in length and scale, this EP showcases the conclusion of this almost six-year-old process.

I'd be at fault saying it's the best thing they've done, if only because of the simple fact that it's too short to be truly satisfying. The band did their best to make it as dynamic as possible, presenting both dragging tempos and maniacal blastbeats and all things in between, along with both sheer aggressiveness and gorgeous arrangements (case in point, the closer presents some of the most beautiful solos the band has ever churned, along with a progressive structure that goes from frantic to mournful, culminating in a haze of otherworldly bliss. No, it's not nearly as gay as I made it sound), but in the end this EP should have been released sometime in the long silence between Fas and Paracletus, because it works as the perfect sampler, the perfect teaser or even a very functional introduction to the most inaccessible works of the band.

In this little EP, Deathspell Omega presents itself in its most refined form, producing a thorough summary of their towering masterworks, those recorded and released between 2005 and 2010 (that is, including previous EPs) in a fun size pill that, while not exactly easy to swallow, should both work as a wonderful appetizer for those who are already accustomed to (or even enamoured with) DSO's very particular brand of extreme music, and as a very versatile introduction for those who have been lured into the cave but dare not dive into the darkness head-first.