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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.