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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.