Deathspell Omega – Furnaces of Palingenesia
The rise of Scandinavian black metal in the ‘90s had a ripple effect in the extreme metal scenes across the globe. Each regional scene adopted many of the characteristics of the second black metal wave, from the raw production, the DIY ethic, the communal spirit, but of course with its own twist. The Greek black metal scene paved a way through a more atmospheric and melodic outlook, while also embracing folk tradition, while in France the focus was tilted towards a more raw and uncompromising manifestation.
One of the most prominent acts of that scene is of course Deathspell Omega, who first appeared in the late ‘90s with their vehement debut Infernal Battles. The band’s debut record owed much to the orthodoxy of the genre, but through the years Deathspell Omega displayed a more adventurous spirit, one that would lead to inadvertently pave their own path. This shift became apparent in 2004 with Si, Monvmentvm Reqvires, Circvmpsive, where Deathspell Omega embraced a twisted avantgarde ethic by wrapping their grim black metal sound around a highly technical, math-rock inspired structure. It was a hellish union, and the band would continue to explore its capabilities in their subsequent records, reaching a peak with the astounding Fas – Ite, Maledicti, In Ignem Aeternum. For the following decade Deathspell Omega would continue experimenting with these additional sonic injections, resulting in a series of formiddable records in Paracletus and Synarchy of Broken Bones. It is this path that has now led them to their seventh full-length, Furnaces of Palingenesia, a record furthers the band’s bitter and damned approach.
Deathspell Omega have been exposing the darkest and most brutal aspect of black metal since their inception, and the plunge in utter hopelessness arrives straight away with “Neither Meaning nor Justice”, as they combine a doom weight and pace with their trademark cacophonous lead work. It is a sickening grand element they awaken in that form, and they explore its various manifestations vividly through the haunting “1523” or the devastating closer “You Cannot Even Find The Ruins…”. Displaying once more their unconventional dichotomy, through these moments Deathspell Omega finely balance between the hidden, underlying catchiness of their ideas and the twisted melodic element that their lead work conceals. It is one of the key factors that made the work of the band appear so potent and remarkable.
Because it is through such means that Deathspell Omega are able to produce a sound that comes across with such a graphic and vile sentiment. It is an aura directly awakened through their bitter, demoniacal demeanour, with the vocal delivery acting as the prime source with its brutal and at the same time theatrical quality. “Ad Arma! Ad Arma!” is a fantastic manifestation of that form, an unholy call to arms as it pronounces a hellish declaration of war towards all. The further combination of complex structures, unconventional progression and black metal fury all further aid in the graphic imagery produced in Furnaces of Palingenesia. “Fires of Frustration” arrives with a main hook produced through the darkest of minds, while the interweaving of guitar work in the brilliant “Standing on the work of Slaves” creates iconic moments of asphyxiating bliss.
When Deathspell Omega first performed their historic turn in 2004 they produced a completely novel and unexplored black metal sound. Their subsequent investigations have continued to explore this domain, and so today even though Furnaces of Palingenesia does not offer something necessarily unexpected from Deathspell Omega, it is a reminder of both the quality and potency of their sound. The cyclonic riffs, the insance guitar likcks of “Splinters from Your Mother’s Spine”, the pressure the band is able to apply through its songwriting in “Imitatio Dei” and the anger of brutality of “Renegade Ashes” and “Absolutist Regeneration”, all showcase a band doing what they do best.