When your album title’s in Latin and your lyrics come in paragraphs as opposed to verses, it’s easy to seem overly serious, to make jaded rock hacks wish you’d included a jokey cover (say, the Crazy World of Arthur Brown’s “Fire”) at the tail end of your latest opus. But the truth is, Deathspell Omega’s very seriousness, along with their mix of frostbitten Northern roar and Gothic guitar clang, is what makes them one of the most impressive black-metal acts around right now.
Such bands spend too much time scoffing at human interpersonal relationships to call Deathspell part of a “movement,” but it’s fair to say several excellent BM squads have emerged from France recently, including Blut Aus Nord, Spektr, and Antaeus. Deathspell’s lyrics are the most extreme of all, though, combining genuinely poetic evocations of despair with lectures on Satanism-as- metaphysics. Darkthrone-esque primitives at first, they’ve become increasingly avant-garde, starting with 2004’s Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice and 2005’s Kénôse. This new one’s centerpiece is “The Repellent Scars of Abandon and Election,” a nearly 12-minute marathon of blasphemy, blast beats, and riffs falling somewhere between postpunk and math-metal. But “A Chore for the Lost” is the album’s peak, a sustained outburst of swirling electronics, throbbing basslines, and croaked vocals over thundering, breathtakingly chaotic drums. Violent and philosophical in equal measure, this album is a work of genuine and very dark art.