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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.

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.

Inquisitors of Satan - 88%

Noctir, September 25th, 2009

Inquisitors of Satan is the second full-length album from Deathspell Omega, though it might be more accurate to consider this their first proper L.P. considering the fact that the previous album consisted of four new songs and then several demo tracks. Deathspell Omega made quite a name for themselves through the release of the previous album, as well as a series of splits they did with Clandestine Blaze, Mütiilation and Moonblood. If anything will establish a band as one to keep an eye on, this certainly did the trick. In each of these cases, it was as if the other bands featured on the split as endorsing these guys, which probably helped get their name out there and to earn them a bit of respect. Released in May 2002, on Northern Heritage, Inquisitors of Satan stands as a tribute to the first era of this band... an era which some prefer.

I heard of this band for some time before actually checking them out. It wasn't until the release of the Kenose E.P. that I actually saw a Deathspell Omega album in a record store, so this was my first exposure to the band. I knew practically nothing of them, as I'd never even bothered to research them online. It didn't take long to realize that Mikko Aspa, of Clandestine Blaze, was handling the vocal duties. At any rate, I was interested enough in what I heard to seek out more. The first album that I purchased was Inquisitors of Satan, since it appeared to be the first true full-length (after doing a little reading). This became the album from which I derived my opinion of this band, and it's still the first thing I think of when I hear the band's name. It also possesses some sentimental value as it arrived in the mail on a very significant day for me. They've gone on to create some decent music, but I don't think any other album bears the consistency that this one does. To this day, it remains my favourite and it's the single album from them that I most recommend to others.

"From Unknown Lands of Desolation" starts as if it's already in the middle of something, in a way. It's similar to movies that begin with a dramatic scene that will later be explained. The fast drums and tremolo riffs work along with the possessed vocals to create a sense of tension and chaos. This is the only way that I can really describe the guitar riffs of this period of the band's existence. The tempo alternates from blindingly fast, in the Transilvanian Hunger vein, to something a little more catchy. After a couple minutes, the riffs transition to something with an increased sense of urgency. One gets the feeling that it is building toward something dreadful and apocalyptic. This is certainly good music for the end of the world.

"Our skies are forever black
Here is no signs of life at all
For burning spirits we are
Consuming your small universe
Slowly but surely"

The next song, "Torture and Death", begins in much the same way as the previous song ended. Of course, one can make another Darkthrone comparison by stating that several of the songs may seem quite similar to those who don't bother to actually listen. Once you do, it is easy to differentiate the various melodies, though they may be played in a similar manner and maintain the same speed. Shaxul's vocals still sound like Hat, of Gorgoroth, and his style fits the music so much better than Mikko. I am a fan of Clandestine Blaze, but I do feel that Deathspell Omega would have benefited from retaining Shaxul's services.

"Desecration Master" begins with a catchy riff, sounding almost like a sped-up Celtic Frost riff. It soon speeds up a bit more, though not matching the intensity of the previous tracks. There are also some dissonant arpeggio riffs thrown in, adding to the obscure feeling conveyed by the music. Lyrically, the song keeps within Satanic and anti-human themes. For some reason, the band considers their earlier lyrics to be too immature or sub-par, as the reissues don't include them. This comes off as a little pretentious, as there's nothing wrong with the lyrics, at all. One doesn't always need a thesaurus and a bible when writing lyrics. Song lyrics need not always read like a research paper. Simplicity is, sometimes, underrated.

"I need to see and feel humans suffering
Eyes full of fear imploring my mercy"

The more straight-forward approach returns on "Lethal Baptism". Worth noting is that the overall sound gives the impression of being raw, though it sounds quite polished when comparing it to old Darkthrone, for example. It's, somehow, raw and clear at the same time. The guitar sound is relatively sharp, but slightly dulled.

"Succubus of All Vices" features one of the best riffs on the whole album. It maintains the chaotic spirit that is prevalent in the rest of the songs, but this one possesses a sorrowful feeling that bleeds through the hatred. The pace shifts, a minute or so in, and the mournful atmosphere becomes more overpowering. The cold tremolo riffs produce a melancholy aura that haunts your mind. This song has to stand out as one of the most dynamic and well-structured of the band's career. This memorable song bears some epic qualities, taking you on a blackened journey.

The title track begins with a more relaxed feeling, being far less intense than the previous song. The speed picks up a little, but it's nothing too extreme. This one is a little more melodic in nature, at times. The tremolo riffs are clear and nicely contrast the raw vocals. Oddly enough, I recall thinking this band had to be Finnish when I first got this album, since it reminded me of Horna and Sargeist, in some way. I suppose it's natural that the share some characteristics since they were influenced by the same handful of Norwegian bands.

"Decadence" is the final song, and it may very well be the most epic song on the album. It starts with a slow pace that serves to create a desolate atmosphere. After a couple of minutes, chaos is unleashed as the song speeds up, transitioning back to the tremolo riffs and blasting drums. The guitar melodies in this song are, by far, some of the best of this band's career. The tension has increased to such an extent that you feel your soul being pulled from all directions, slowly tearing apart. This is the feeling of being consumed by the chaotic forces beyond. However, before you are torn to shreds, the pace slows back down and a morbid feeling falls over you. Your spirit becomes disconnected from your body, floating above as your corpse falls into a fresh grave. The end is here. You are free.

A 21st Century Black Metal Classic - 95%

Per_Ignem_Ad_Lucem, September 7th, 2007

Like the first reviewer of this album, on the first couple of listens I did not think much to "Inquisitors...". Indeed their previous "Infernal Battles" release did not move me to think there would be much else than pedestrain black metal moves with too much leaning toward ubiquitous 'second wave' monotony. However, I was willing to give it a chance....

On the initial few plays, I did not note anything remarkable. Everything appeared to be order for a two-a-penny standard black metal release. Fast no frills drumming, furious dark sounding guitar riffs played over again and again, the non guttural controlled raspy-screech-scream vocals. All the elements to move me to think that this was no more than black metal background music album, albeit with a very competent execution. Something to wash the stainless black steel cutlery to.

So after initiating myself in a non-committal manner to "Inquisitors of Satan" I found myself inquiring upon the disc again and again. I will not go into every minute detail of this album i.e. 'listen to this outstanding riff at 3.21 on this track' etc. as I believe this would detract from the fact that this is a 'from start to finish' listen. There is something unquantifiable about this album, something about the way that just when you thought no one would be able to make a solid, furious, unrelenting and fresh sounding black metal album ever again, it unfurls infront of you subtly and surely. There is no need to dissect this album as it contains that special ingredient that makes all great music, the language that can only be understood through experience.

I mention the word 'fresh' which is one of the key factors to understanding the greatness of this album. Although all the common elements of a standard black metal album are present, it's the execution here which really creates something special. I believe it's especially admirable to succeed in sounding both traditional and new at once which is what happens here. Wether it's the crushing consistency of the riffs, the unusual way the vocalist fashions every line as if it's every last line of the last song, the way that every track opens as if you've never been away, the way 'From Unknown Lands of Desolation' unleashes itself upon you and the riffs start to slide, no intros, no basement retrograde grimmness, no redundant pompus progressive flourishes, just straight up quality relentless essential black metal.

Bad ass - 100%

WilliamAcerfeltd, August 9th, 2007

Inquisitors Of Satan is arguably the album which made Deathspell Omega what they are today. Infernal Battles was too raw and unknown, so it wasn't until this release that the cult movement began with this band. To summarise this album, it’s raw and grim, and while it lacks the disturbing evil feeling that I get from later releases, it's still pretty damn bad ass all the same.

Inquisitors Of Satan offers all a black metal fan such as myself would want, raw guitars with fast, good, solid riffs and a dark atmosphere. The riffs can be a bit repetitive sometimes but they never get bothered, probably because the riffs are pretty good. This basically goes without saying that they are quite complex and only very talented guitarists could play them. Even if you don't like black metal, you might like to get it just to listen to the riffs.

Shaxul apparently did vocals on this album and he does a pretty good job. He delivers his vocals with passion and rage. It's actually frightening in a way. This is particularly noticeable on songs such as Succubus Of All Vices. His vocals and high-pitched and shrill, in my opinion, he is one of the best vocalists in the black metal industry. If Themgoroth had done vocals here, this album would have been absolutely stunning. Nonetheless Shaxul is a good vocalist and that's the bottom line.

The drumming is pretty straight forward. It’s basically just blast beats throughout the entire album. It does change around a bit but its basically just textbook blast beating. However, the riffs and guitar work make up for it. The drumming isn't really all that bad anyway, it doesn't weaken the album.

Overall this is a very good album, hence the high score. This album is basically flawless and it was amazing that Deathspell Omega would go onto better this album when they recorded SMRC, which in my opinion, revolutionised black metal (yes, I think it's THAT good). As stated above, while it lacks the shocking, evil feel of later releases which disturbed me, it's still great and absolutely essential to any black metal fan.

Conclusion: The above is strongly recommended for purchase.

A little over hyped. - 73%

drewnm156, September 4th, 2006

By the end of the 90’s the Norwegian black metal scene, which had spawned countless bands and imitators, had somewhat died. The scene was not producing hungry bands to carry on the tradition of Enslaved, Emperor and Mayhem. During this time through the turn of the century bands in Finland, America and France were carrying on the black metal tradition with strong releases that simultaneously stayed true to their roots while creating something original in their own right.

Deathspell Omega’s 2nd full length album (counting Infernal Battles) was full of harsh Norwegian worship black metal. Deathspell has made a name from themselves in the past couple of years with some very ambitious black metal releases. Few would have probably predicted where they were to go based on this album, although some signs were there. There is nothing bad about this album, but there is nothing great either. In listening to this album most songs blast by without really establishing anything special. I love fast black metal; however these songs just don’t stay with me once the record stops spinning. By far the best song in my opinion is track 3, Desecration Master. This song weaves faster sections with more tempo and riff changes. The riffing in this song also foretells some of the styles that were used so effectively on Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice. The problem with this song and most on the album is it is over long and looses its power after 5 minutes.

The production is decent for this style of music with guitar, drums and vocals at a good mix, where none is drowning out the others. The band comes up with decent riffs every so often, like in the aforementioned Desecration Master and Decadence. The latter utilizes more mid paced riffing to better effect. Again traces to SMRC can be seen, however since just about every song is played at a similar tempo, the album sounds very homogenized. These elements combine to create a black metal album that can be listened to in its entirety, but not much is taken away once the music has faded away.

Good to pick up to if you are completeists of the band or scene. Hardly essential, regardless of what others might imply.

Brilliant. - 94%

Vlad_Tepes, February 24th, 2004

Upon first impressions, Inquisitors of Satan was just another standard black metal album from another raw black metal band. After many listens, this is so much more. Deathspell Omega has impressed me on many different levels, this was the beginning.

This album isn't clean sounding like SMRC and it isn't raw like Darkthrone's Transilvanian Hunger. All instruments are very much audible. The vocalist spits out hatred in his well honed black metal scream, reminiscent of Nocturno Culto. The lyrics seem to be about satanism, destruction and nihilism. This is what I gather from the booklet, as only a few sentences(sometimes single words)are decipherable. The guitar work ranges from speedy, thrash-ish riffing, to slower pounding desecration and minimalistic, sweeping melodies; also reminiscent of Transilvanian Hunger. Deathspell Omega have written some fucking excellent, and dare I say 'rocking', riffs here. See 'From Unknown Lands of Desolation' and 'Lethal Baptism'. The drums are fairly fast paced and predominantly blasting, but slowing down in appropriate places and working perfectly with the guitars. The closer, Decadence, wouldn't be out of place of their latest album, with it's droning, depressive riffing. This is a brilliant black metal album, it's not tiring, not repetitious and doesn't bore me for one moment. If you're looking for some newer, refreshing black metal, check this release out. Great work.