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Pots and pans. - 35%

Empyreal, February 19th, 2017

I always hate the old generalization of 'metal is just pots and pans banging together,' but that's actually kinda what this Deathspell Omega album sounds like. Not that it's non-musical or amelodic – there are clearly structures to these songs and they're not just random noise, but their only effect is that they're extremely raucous and abrasive but without really accomplishing much musically. This is an album where every second is full of jangly guitars, twisted riffs, technical drumming and screeching vocals, but it all sounds weirdly static, and the songs don't seem to go anywhere from the beginning to the end. I never get any atmosphere from this and there are never any grooves to latch onto in the music – it's just kind of a nothing-album.

Most of this reminds me slightly of Gorguts' Obscura in terms of style – it's a similarly raucous, weird, abrasive work that never lets up or gives you space to breathe for the whole runtime, and the songwriting is similarly busy and chaotic. But unlike Obscura, there aren't any interesting melodies and the songs just don't gel together for me, instead just kind of going by in a faceless blur for the blissfully short 30-minute runtime. This just feels far too clinical, planned and calculated to have the kind of oceanic, unpredictable feel Obscura gave me. It's like if you gave Obscura to a group of trained music students and told them to just whip up something in that general style in a week or so - there needs to be more spontaneity and surprise to music like this.

Thus, the 'pots and pans' thing. This is unsettling and nerve-wracking music, which should be the goal for a lot of extreme metal. But it's really not scary or foreboding – I just get a general and minor irritation from this music, similar to if I heard my roommate banging pots and pans together in the middle of the night.

In that case, I would wake up and demand that he just cut it the fuck out.

Likewise, in the case of this album, I just wait for it to finally be over.

Visceral, poisonous and utterly stunning. - 97%

DSOfan97, December 22nd, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Norma Evangelium Diaboli (Digipak)

Now that's something I didn't see coming. Deathspell Omega returning with a release out of the blue in November was probably the news of the year for me and the fact that the new material was less than two months away was to say the least enthralling. The reaction of course was immense. I for starter's couldn't speak for a minute or two after learning of this. Even a scam leak appeared on YouTube later (and I admit falling for it) but quickly such illusions were shattered by the full album leak that took place in late October. It wasn't in the best possible environment and the conditions were anything but good, but I gave it a shot. Being with a bunch of other people I went out in the cold for some air and then I pressed the play button.

What happened next filled me with joy. What I was listening to wasn't just a DSO record, or an evolution of Drought in any case. It was a return to the form of FAS - Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternvm, an album that shaped black metal back in 2007. If anything though, this album is different in its own right, since most of those mid paced moments of FAS are gone. The Synarchy of Molten Bones is chaos in aural form, a truly visceral album with abysmal sound and unforgiving execution. From the first drum hit in the beginning of the title track to the spine chilling fanfare that wraps Internecine Iatrogenesis, the band destroys everything that stands in their way. Of course many things haven't changed despite the four years of complete silence that preceded. The band still works in utter secrecy, not sharing a single work until their work is done to the very end. When the album was announced even the cover art and song lengths were unveiled in a single post. In addition to that, the style of the artwork accompanying the release remains as it was before, personally reminding me of the Paracletus cover above anything else. On top of that, there still is no official information about who works with or in Deathspell Omega. That being said all names that I will reference from now on are either unconfirmed but surely true, or vague speculations of mine.

There were some moments when this all began that I was thinking about the tiny possibility of a direct link between this album and the previous trilogy of LP's. Discarding it didn't take long; the titles used in the trilogy were all written in Latin and they were all direct references to religious sources of knowledge such the Christian Bible and tradition. Apart from that the lyrical themes are a bit different than what they used to be, but I'll get on that later. Despite being sure of this album being a standalone effort (save for the case of it being another first part to another series of records) I can't help but admire the way that they managed to fit everything that they have done in the past decade in less then 30 minutes of playing time. From the furious tremolo picking to the jazz influenced chords, the dissonances and occasional melodies to some utterly rhythmical breakdowns, it's all there. There are points that sound like Converge on acid and moments that bring bands like Ved Buens Ende... and Virus to mind, and it all fits together in a way that hasn't been demonstrated before.

Another thing that caught my attention in the original NoEvDia post was the playing time; 29:12. I assumed it would be an EP, however the label insisted on calling it a full album. And I understand why. The turn in direction that DSO took is way too dense and spastic to be extended to, say, the 40th minute mark. The music in terms of intensity is unrivaled by anything that I can think of right now. The guitars still have that atonal touch to them even if at some points they seem to be returning to more simplistic roots. Hasjarl managed to pull an amazing result out of his efforts here, especially in the third track Onward Where Most with Ravin I May Meet, a track that constantly evolves and actually captures the essence of every release of the band since their breakthrough in 2004. All jokes aside I usually refer to this track as DSO in a nutshell.

The backbone of the music is very detailed as well as the guitars and vocals albeit I doubt that the band view the bass and drums as mere background for their music. Khaos truly shines here. His work on the bass is at least admirable, as he refuses to simply follow the guitars and adds more variation instead. There are on or two moments that only the bass can be heard and it's there that we get to hear the crispy and heavy tone that it has. As for the drums, this is the only time until now that I am almost sure that DSO are using a drum machine. I doubt any human being can pull such a performance off if we consider how relentless the drumming is for the most of the album's playing time. Finally, the additional instrumentation that graces the album (brass, orchestral percussion) add to the eerie atmosphere without sounding out of place in any case. The production is the only aspect of the album that I have no clue about. There is no question that it works perfectly but nobody knows who is behind the mixing and mastering of this masterwork. It could be Boban Milunovic again, as it was in FAS . There are also rumors that the studio engineer is the same person that has Carpenter Brut, a retrowave project that has received critical acclaim.

The lyrics evoke the image of humanity ending and arising again but this time, the archetypal human is made in likeness to Satan and not God. Once again the lyrics are beyond complex but they succeed in picturing the subject that's being analysed in the most vivid way possible. That is also a result of Mikko Aspa's amazing performance and multilayered vocals (additional vocals have been provided by S.V.E.S.T.'s Spica forthe Fremch parts). The vocals are mostly growling and snarling but every word digs its way into your mind, resting there and then growing up to the point that you'll be spending large amounts of time just comprehending the meaning of the lyrics. The opening words seem to be invoking some kind of healer or doctor that I guess is a metaphor for Satan wiping the false human race from the world and clearing the way for the uprising of the true heirs of his. Even the stunning album cover, which I presume that comes from Timo Ketola just from the looks of it, is a direct reference to the lyrics of the closing track; -But heaven! One arrow, anointed in the balm of Internecine Iatrogenesis, shall suffice!

Once again there is much to be studied, analysed and observed in the new Deathspell Omega record. I have been struck by its magnitude and I have no doubt that it is one of my favorite releases by them. And while nothing can overcome Paracletus and FAS for me, I feel that this is very close in terms of quality. I have a long way in front of me before I fully digest this, but trust me, it is worth it. I am urged to think what might come next (an EP if they follow the pattern?) but for now The Synarchy of Molten Bones is a reality and better than what I dared to hope for. I'll end my drivel here, but the album will get many more listens and praises from my side and I urge you to follow my lead.

Favorite tracks: Famished for Breath , Onward Where Most with Ravin I May Meet.

97/100.

No great advance but plenty to satisfy DSO fans - 80%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, November 12th, 2016

After a 6-year break during which DSO fans had to be content with compilations, boxed sets and short EPs, the mighty French legends finally release a new album which turns out to be not that much longer than the short EP releases themselves. Those of us hoping for something innovative or different that the last original work "Drought" had will be a bit disappointed too - the atmosphere and dark moods and spaces on that EP have gone and in their place is what we know to be DSO's usual style of highly technical and sharp twisting-and-turning dense black / death metal. As is the custom of DSO, there are usually just two modes of musical delivery: the fast and furious careening along at breakneck speed that continually throws listeners off balance; and the short micro-breaks between one such episode and the next such episode.

All right, "The Synarchy of Molten Bones" might be DSO in default cruise mode, and I'm a bit disappointed that the music here is no advance on their last release, but most DSO fans who've been starved for new music will be happy just to know their heroes can still deliver powerful and intense venomous black metal. The music is still dense and spiky in that dark sparkling jewelled dissonant-tone way, and there's still that deranged edge to the playing and the ravaged multi-demon voices that dominate all four songs. The lyrics proclaim a new humanity arising from the remains of the old, but this time in the image of Satan, with all that is implied in that idea. Satan is still at heart a trickster and dissembler and a humanity in his image might partake of his deceptive nature and be no better than the humans that have gone before. Like other DSO releases, this one is so intense, overwhelming in its densely layered music and esoteric lyrics, that most fans will need several hearings to absorb it all. Though the distorted sound is still familiar, the production is still clean enough that a cold airy background ambience, through which choirs can be heard sighing, makes its presence felt through the flippy blast-beat percussion, the noodling guitars and the demon voices as they fade in and out and blend with one another.

There isn't much to distinguish the four tracks from one another except perhaps that each succeeding track is more insane and frantic than the one before. DSO really play like men possessed and if all DSO albums were to be judged purely on their levels of madness and demented intensity, "The Synarchy ..." would be rated very high. The drumming especially has a deranged life of its own and I think it's a pity the actual beats have such a thin brittle quality and don't have the power they could have. Indeed the thin production here doesn't do DSO much justice - the music needs to be deeper to bring out the band's fanatical side.

Even so, there's plenty of substance in the lyrics that will intrigue listeners and which might ensure that the album, for all its immediate musical faults, will grow on listeners and be considered essential listening, warts and all.

Deathspell Omega unheal the world. - 90%

ConorFynes, November 8th, 2016

When Deathspell Omega at last completed their definitive trilogy with Paracletus in 2010, it wasn't clear what direction the band would take. They were finally in the wake of their great Work, after all; black metal met its logical pinnacle a decade ago with the perfect Fas - Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum, and the following album had justified itself based on the fact that it had managed to rein in that swirling perfection with restraint and melody. Now that they had not only touched madness but now harnessed it as well, it could constitute hubris to believe that their sound further.

The following EP Drought amazingly proved that prediction wrong with its slightly reinvented style, now a greater part Dillinger Escape Plan than Darkthrone than ever. Even 21 minutes it not only demonstrated potential beyond the trilogy, but acted as a perfect epilogue to the genre's greatest undertaking. Their exploration of God, Man and Satan was characterized by the image of Lucifer's descent to Hell from Heaven; just as Lucifer fell, it was easy to infer the fall of Man as well from the apocalyptic resolution Paracletus ended on with "Apokatastasis Pantôn", a resignation to the "pit of silence" and (translating the term) restoration of all to its primordial or original state. Where Paracletus might have ended with Apocalypse, Drought offered a glimpse of its result; a spiritual drought as much as a physical one, the annihilation of the sacred, dogs and cats living together; total fucking darkness in other words, with all semblance of hope a bygone afterthought, "like Adam and Eve at the end of time..." With Drought DSO essentially achieved for their theological explorations what they had previously done for the music from on Paracletus after Fas, drawing their arc past the point of climax as a sort of denouement. And all that with a refreshed , mathier take on that last album's style without losing the melodic heft.

Because Drought left the irredeemable fate of Man fairly cut and dried, I think it could have been a perfect place for Deathspell Omega to have called it quits. Of course I wanted nothing more for my favourite band to boldly return, I just don't think there was a clear path for them to progress; whether musically or lyrically, DSO pushed it further than anyone ever has (and likely ever will) in black metal. As such, the only places for the concept and music to go were, respectively, rebirth and regression. Those two terms arguably describe The Synarchy of Molten Bones more effectively than all else I could say about it. Deathspell Omega has, in 2016, drawn themselves back to the brink of annihilation and chaos. The album (arguably an EP at 29 minutes) more closely recalls the brutal calculated noise of Fas than anything before or since, to the point where it might be called its spiritual sequel. While there's part of me that bemoans Deathspell Omega not having kept up their innovative streak, or that a four year wait and supposed "full-length" status aren't justified by its runtime, all of it pales in comparison to the awe of hearing these masters in action again.

The Synarchy of Molten Bones isn't a game-changer the way Fas, Paracletus, or even some of the EPs were for me, but there hasn't been a doubt in my mind that the album well-deserves its instant acclaim as a masterpiece. I think if you've felt even slightly underwhelmed by the album, take a look at the competition. In addition to a quarter of my own life having come and gone, the time between Paracletus and now has seen a notorious surge of DSO clones. Some have been brilliant and most have been good (few have thankfully been flat-out bad) but I can't think of a single acolyte of theirs that comes close to capturing the technical insanity and atmosphere here. Even if it's 29 minutes long, it never feels that length. Cutting out a lot of the ambient and "mellower" sections from Fas, this is indisputably the most brutal and punishing Deathspell Omega have ever sounded. Nods to Fas are fast and frequent. With "The Synarchy of Molten Bones", the music opens up with discordant symphonic overtones, closely echoing the "Obombration" pair. The odd chord choices, tone, hell-- everything felt instantly familiar to my ears from the first listen, with ominously terrifying guitar screeches tossing a bit of a curveball early on. It doesn't take long for Deathspell Omega to fire up to full speed from there. I think some of the unhinged twang from Drought has found its way into the formula here -- some of the less byzantine moments even recall Paracletus -- but there is little doubt where Synarchy's true loyalties lie.

Conceptually, the album preaches a spirit of rebirth and renewal, though you shouldn't think hope has found a place in that equation. It's like Man has been brought up once more only to writhe in a world made now in Satan's image, rather than God whom He usurped in the last trilogy. Amid numerous references to Greek mythology (an idea I hope they continue to stick with), it feels as if DSO are taking the narrative voice of Satan Himself. There is a common reference to Iatros, that is a healer, likely referring to the continued struggle of God in this cosmic mess. The frequent idea of healing ties in well with the idea that the Synarchy of Molten Bones means to continue the exploration they left off with Paracletus. However, in truly Satanic fashion, even the Godly idea of healing here is twisted. The title "Internecine Iatrogenesis" says everything about DSO's theological concept of rebirth. With iatrogenesis literally meaning "brought forth by the healer" and internecine describing something as "mutually destructive", you can probably come to your own conclusions on Deathspell Omega's theology.

Much like Fas, it's often difficult to tell where one song begins and another ends. I laud the return of this unrelenting chaos. There's barely a second for a listener (especially those with weak constitutions) to catch a breath. If you're coming as a returning DSO fan, you know the drill. The sound is constantly rife with blastbeats and frantic drum patterns that defy human understanding. The guitars are immaculately cold and are only sometimes decipherable under the drums and daemonic vocal articulations. Although the guitars and drums are roughly on par with albums past, Mikko's vocals might actually outshine his past collaborations with DSO. Given that the lyrics this time speak directly as Satan, it fits the album's style that his vocals would somehow become even more terrifying inhuman and bold. I do miss the stronger vocal integration on Paracletus, but the disconnect between the vocal phrasing and the frantic instrumentation beneath lends the impression of a Satanic sermon more than a pre-calculated performance purely for music's sake.

It's hard to express in words how powerful the atmosphere in Deathspell Omega's music really is. So many of their core traits have been elevated to the point of being near-clichés, whether by the orthodox black metal scene or the burgeoning wave of experimental metal from the current decade. It is fair to feel disappointed by the fact that The Synarchy of Molten Bones has fallen back on familiar ideas, as opposed to building a new framework for the current generation like I'd hoped, but it's ultimately asinine to criticize a band for sounding like themselves. For everything its worth, the apparent flaws of Synarchy are smoothed out by its depth and repeated listens. I might still consider the new album more as an EP, but for its length it works perfectly; layer upon layer of instrumentation and detail will keep any attentive listener rapt far longer than most albums twice its length. Only the production, which feels a step down from Fas, and a few lower than Paracletus, really stands out as a shortcoming, although it only seems that way in the context of their other masterpieces.

One question remains on my mind: Would people have lost themselves over The Synarchy of Molten Bones if it hadn't been released alongside under the fabled DSO name? I didn't think so, at least at first. But as I threw myself further into the album, listening to it, reading lyrics, pondering its concepts, there is no doubt it can stand on the weight of its own merits. This is the kind of crippling composition and musicianship only they of any are worthy to conjure.

As Deathspell Omega conduct their own rebirth, all others shall pale and kneel.

Originally written for Heathen Harvest Periodical.