Haunting The Chapel

Deathspell Omega’s Beautiful Dark Twisted Philosophy

French (and Finnish, Japanse, etc.) avant black metal group Deathspell Omega’s fifth full-length Paracletus is their most rabid — 49 minutes of layered, technical, violent black metal. It opens in media res, closes on a quick cut/distorted fade. It also fittingly features a song called “Abscission”: Excise the choirs, clip the ambient breaks, remove silence by creating coils. They’ve re-focused the post-rock elements — it’s not so much about moments of spacious Slint-esque fathoms (or even Lustmord ambiance); instead, we get unrelenting, sharp, overlapping angles. (Note the heavily distorted bass, the extra focus on the drums, the more punk-rock vocal sounds.) The fourth track “Dearth” does offer breathing room, as does the mid-section of 14-minute slow-build standout “Phosphene” (you may hear Unwound in there) — each of these moments is jammed into a chaotic interlocking whole. The 10 songs work as one, an overall patchwork that ups the intensity: You don’t get the restive moments of 2008’s Chaining The Katechon (though you will hear echoes/look back at the earlier EP as a kind of blueprint) or the inter-song incidental links of the other chapters in the “metaphysical trilogy” that started with 2004’s Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice And Fas and 2007’s Ite, Maledicti, In Ignem Aeternum (my second favorite album that year) (ditto) and ends here. With a pretty gorgeous exclamation. They’re climaxing, offering asphyxiation (via compression). It’s one of my favorite albums of the year, largely because it’s such a slippery listen. It has real teeth, though, as well as hooks that slowly find their way into your head — motifs are repeated, threads twist in on themselves. (If you listen closely, I can’t imagine anyone but the most cynical being bored.) That said, it’s also their “slickest” album, which I imagine will rankle a few. Whatever the case, you’ll get a sense of the whole by diving in and listening to the last couple of tracks, “Devouring Famine” and “Apokatastasis Pantôn.”

Deathspell Omega – “Devouring Famine”
Deathspell Omega – “Apokatastasis Pantôn”


01 “Epiklesis I”
02 “Wings of Predation”
03 “Abscission”
04 “Dearth”
05 “Phosphene”
06 “Epiklesis II”
07 “Malconfort”
08 “Have You Beheld The Fevers?”
09 “Devouring Famine”
10 “Apokatastasis Pantôn”

I haven’t even touched on the lyrics/general themes. To get started on a grammar-school level: As far as the title, think of the Greek word “parákletos” (comforter or helper) and references to the Holy Spirit (the third, to my mind most mysterious part of the Holy Trinity). The lyrics are posted over at Lurker, if you want to excavate.

Paracletus is out via Norma Evangelium Diaboli. It landed at No. 21 on Decibel’s Year-End list. It should’ve done much better.