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One of the darkest albums ever released. - 85%

DSOfan97, August 2nd, 2015

At the dawn of the last decade black metal had started to become stale. Few bands would release admirable albums and even fewer had the talent to actually revive the scene. Of course there were bands like Thorns, whose debut (and only) album is considered to be a classic, Leviathan, with Wrest's phenomenal work in "The Tenth Sub Level of Suicide" and "Tentacles of Whorror" and Blut Aus Nord with "The Work Which Transforms God". Yet nobody expected Deathspell Omega, a group that, until then was stuck in the worn out fashion of the cult black metal albums that Darkthrone and Burzum used to release in the nineties, would emerge from the shadows with something truly amazing. Due to the poor quality of their debut and the lack of focus in their sophomore release, Deathspell weren't exactly a popular band. That changed in 2004 when they released, "Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice".

In this album Deathspell dared to do something entirely new to them and to black metal in general. First of all "Si..." runs for more than an hour as opposed to their previous works which barely exceeded the thirty minute mark. Instead of relying on the riffage they concentrated on a certain atmosphere which is present throughout the album. This dense, dark, heavy and smothering atmosphere was created by the use of some slower passages that appear between the thick layers of guitars, bass and drums, where the band displays tons of new elements and ideas. The album's production was a pleasant surprise for everyone, except for those who only accept the raw and staggering sound of early black metal releases. Every instrument is audible and the vocals top the result perfectly.

Hasjarl, who came up with the concept, had to spend two years in order to realise his vision. In those two years of silence Deathspell took a huge step forward and composed thirteen songs for their new opus. The three prayers are the slowest songs of the album with the exception of the first half of Carnal Malefactor. They are by far the most atmospheric pieces of the whole album. Sola Fide I and II are faster and the speed of the album slowly increases until we reach the final songs where the band calms down a bit. Then, with tracks like Blessed Are the Dead Whiche Dye In The Lorde and Jubilate Deo they play in an extreme way while in Odium Nostrum, they dare to incorporate more experimental rhythmic patterns.

The guitar work has left its mark on the modern black metal scene with its ever changing melodies and dissonances. The bass started to take the lead at some points as it did in their later releases, while the drums performed by Yohann Pasquier ( who used to be the drummer for Hirilorn) sound incredible. The result is an album with rich sound, not overproduced and with Deathspell's trademark elements already starting to take shape. For example the fact that the drums are high in the mix while the vocals are used as one more instrument.

Lyrically "Si..." feels like a liturgy albeit this sounds more like the negation of it, a declaration of faith towards the figure of Satan, which they accept as a metaphysical entity. Their new approach of orthodox satanism and orthodox black metal is strikingly good, while the unspoken lyrics which include some of the most sinister lines ever written, make the whole album sound even darker. Mikko Aspa is responsible for the vocals here. His performance is so damn good, that still, many artists try to copy his style without succeeding of course.

Generally "Si..." is an album that could have been flawless, but there are a few things holding me back from giving it a perfect 100% score. Its length combined with the playing style might exhaust some listeners at first. One has to be patient to enjoy "Si..." and that is not a bad thing, but compared to their next full-length albums, "Si..." seems inferior. Also, while Mikko's performance is great, the way he pronounces some words puts me off. That happens quite oftenly and it can clearly be heard in Carnal Malefactor, even though this track is one of my favorites from the album.

"Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice" is one of black metal's finest moments for sure. The whole genre needed something refreshing back then and Deathspell Omega provided it in the best possible way, crafting an album that would go down in history as one of the darkest (if not the darkest) album ever made. Timo Ketola's album cover (derived from a line in Sola Fide I) depicts the themes of "Si..." in the best possible way, while the illustrations and pictures of massacres and mass graves in the booklet are to say the least horrific. All in all, "Si..." is an album worth your attention and your time. And it's obviously one of the most important black metal albums of the 21st century.

Favorite tracks: "First Prayer", "Third Prayer", "Jubilate Deo", "Carnal Malefactor".

85/100.