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As predictable as it is enjoyable - 91%

lord_ghengis, January 15th, 2010

I'm not the type of person who thinks originality is a particularly important element of the quality of a band; it merely makes bands historically noteworthy. I firmly believe that impersonators can be better than the bands they worship. I think death metal has improved since Seven Churches, I think Sadus are a better thrash band than Slayer, and that Esoteric make funeral doom 10 times better than Thergothon did. Deathspell Omega's second release is a perfect reason for me to defend this viewpoint. “Inquisitors of Satan” is as orthodox as orthodox black metal gets. Since it was recorded in 2002, we'd been hearing this album pretty constantly for the decade prior, this is exactly what one would call the standard sound of black metal. But as standard and as low aiming as this is, it manages to be a standout of the genre. If you've listened to black metal much over the years, you've probably heard this 200 times by now, but luckily, Deathspell Omega have made this album better than so many of their contemporaries, not through ideas or flair, but through a strong focus on quality riffing and solid musicianship.

Buzzing tremolo guitars, croaking barks about Satan, subtle tremolo melody, raw production, mid to high speed blast beats. Ask any metal band on earth to just make up some black metal on the spot, and what they would produce would sound pretty similar to this. It never changes from its formula, this is the epitome of stock standard black metal music, but it doesn't matter. Those buzzing riffs, croaking barks and tremolo melodies are all at a level of quality which is bound to shame 90% of the black metal scene.

There's nothing deeper about this album to praise, Inquisitors of Satan offers 38 minutes of the finest raw riffing and harsh yet memorable counter melodies you'll ever hear. It's one dimensional, but the album drops its mix of evil regular riffs, punkier and rockier riffs, and moments of beauty in such a steady flow that it's hard to really get bored with it. The album is constantly catchy, headbangable and just generally a lot of fun. The punk attitude that is delivered through songs like "Desecration Master" would be sure to make modern Darkthrone drool in awe, and still manage to deliver a enough black metal grimness to keep the most stalwart of second wave worshippers suitably pleased. The songs are intended to be fairly short experiences of fast, aggressive, hard rocking metal, rather than deep and insightful journeys, and in that sense this album is a total success. Every riff is used exactly the right amount of times, and the riffs change smoothly to maximise just how rocking and catchy they can be. The album doesn't let up on the fun at any point with this simple and effective idea.

There is a lack of surprises though; none of these songs cough up anything unexpected, even the closer which is the only song to really change the tempo still sounds like the earlier songs, just with an extra emphasis on the melodies. If anything this is more of a problem than the lack of originality, you can easily rock away a lack of new ideas, but eventually that pain in the neck starts to always come from the same place. The band doesn't throw any curve balls at you, familiarity is nice, but the album goes a bit too far. The enjoyable riffs carry the album as a casual listen, but it does fail under some closer scrutiny overall.

The band are all talented enough, the guitars are flawless, and sail effortlessly through the fast, though simplistic riffs, but thanks to the production they aren't too pristine for the style. The drumming while simplistic keeps time smoothly, switching between basic beats and blasts at frequent enough intervals to avoid being too repetitive. The vocals are an extremely competent rasp, there's nothing overly remarkable about them, except for the fact that they are very well executed, although with no extra flair than needed.

The production is excellent, raw enough to remain intimidating and harsh but loud and well mixed enough to really show off how good these riffs are. The whirlwind of guitars is warm and invites you to really absorb the fantastic riffs on offer, and the dirty, but powerful drums manage to strengthen the albums backbone which makes this album feel genuinely heavy, and drive a lot of the headbanging grooves that this album is built of.

It's really quite difficult to build a lengthy review out of this album because it's just so simple. This is punkish, orthodox black metal at its easiest to comprehend, but these riffs are absolutely excellent, and the whole band is focussed on their goal. New ideas be damned, riffs like this trump them.