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Deathspell Omega - Inquisitors Of Satan - 60%

ConorFynes, December 12th, 2011

Nowadays, France's Deathspell Omega are widely held to be one of the most cataclysmic and inventive bands in black metal. As their two first albums indicate however, they were not always so adventurous with their style. As one might be able to derive from the title 'Inquisitors Of Satan', Deathspell Omega's second record falls into the category of lo-fi, old school black metal. Much in the style that dominated the Scandinavian underground a decade before, this band's work at this point is fueled by blastbeats, fast, reverb-riddled guitars, and high pitched screams. While much less of an artistic statement than the albums that would follow this, Deathspell Omega were still an above-average act for black metal, although they weren't treading any new ground here.

Contrary to 'Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice' and just about everything else that the band would release after this, there is not a great deal to be said about the band's music on 'Inquisitors Of Satan'. I should not need to mention that the band's satanic lyricism was already in full-force at this point, but musically, this is a band that's simply building upon the legacy of the bands that were defining black metal a full ten years before. Had Deathspell Omega stayed like this, it is unlikely that they would have received much recognition, despite the music here being a cut above your run-of-the-mill old school black metal. Deathspell generally sticks with a fast-paced, atmospheric black metal style. The guitars here could sometimes even be said to be dabbling with ambient, or depressive black metal, but there is almost always a great speed to the music.

The production is considerably lo-fi, and those less initiated into the genre may even consider it to be unlistenable. The mixing of 'Inquisitors' is actually quite well done though, relative to the genre. The bass is virtually inaudible, but the drums, guitars, and vocals all balance off quite nicely. The guitars have a great resonance to them, and are easily the best thing about this album. The drums sound tinny and thin, but I would not expect much more from a lo-fi production. Being someone who is already very familiar with the band's later catalog, one thing that surprised me here are the vocals. Shaxul's high pitched rasp is very generic, but it has a good range to it, unlike the latter era vocals of Mikko Aspa, which would usually stay fairly monotone. I may still prefer Aspa's vocals for the fact that they are distinctive, but hearing a more conventional approach in this band's music is surprising, if not pleasantly so.

'Inquisitors Of Satan' is mostly forgotten in the shadow of Deathspell Omega's distinctive set of masterpieces. I would say that this is a record for fans of the band only, but while generic, this is an above average album for old school black metal. This band's early material is not a disappointment, as long as you're not expecting the same depth and intelligence as their later work.