Deathspell Omega surface anew with confounding black metal on ‘Synarchy of Molten Bones’

dso-coverI’ve always been a huge fan of strangeness in any of my entertainment mediums. That goes for books, TV shows, movies, and, quite obviously, metal. If it’s well done and not just there as a forced gesture, nine times out of 10 it’s going to at least pique my interest, and a lot of the bands that I count as some of my favorites have a weird streak going through them.

One of the oddest and most mysterious entities in all black metal is Deathspell Omega, the shadowy, faceless disciples from the void who have stymied art and expression for years. There are a ton of bands—probably too many—who try to imitate the way DsO do their thing, and while some come pretty close to nailing it, none do it the way this French band twists the screws. Like a nightmare falling from the sky with hardly any warning, the band just released its sixth record “The Synarchy of Molten Bones,” their first record since “Paracletus” six long years ago. In true DsO fashion, the record is an absolute mind fuck. It’s their shortest full-length effort to date at four songs and just a bit over 29 minutes, but it’s also one of their strangest and most effective. Their music always find a way to make your guts crawl, and there’s no shortage of bizarre, unsettling tributaries flowing through this record.

Deathspell Omega have done a fine job keeping the band in the shadows, somewhat, over the years, though their faces can be found if you do some quick searches. The group consists of vocalist Mikko Aspa, who has been behind the mic since 2002, as well as guitarist Hasjarl and bassist Khaos, who have been there since their 1998 origin. The band doesn’t make music that’s easy to digest, and taking on their records at a time when the mind is weak could cause panic and discomfort. Then again, I find that’s the best time to listen to DsO as their music floats through a chaotic universe. “Synarchy” continues that path, grinding your mind and weaving in their own philosophies that push metaphysical realms of Satanic theology. To the uninitiated, that means it’s incredibly scary and can make you hear voices threatening and summoning you from beyond.

The record opens with the 6:58 title track, as bells ring out, doom horns seem to indicate Biblical-level catastrophe, and the eventual deluge of trauma spread over the first minutes. The music slithers and scrapes its way, heading toward complete destruction and gurgled growls that feel alien-delivered. The track hits a dizzying vortex, while sheets of synth spread stardust, only to have the music unseal its own wounds and unleash a terrifying finish that tries to stop the heart. “Famished for Breath” splatters itself all over the place, as total madness arrives and leaves you on the brink of psychological collapse. The growls sound threatening, as Aspa wails, “The haughty strides of time thou shall put to a halt, and mangle past and future with ghastly wounds!” The melodies confound as they seem to seep through dimensions, and the track ends with drums thrashing, and the growls pounding monstrously.

“Onward Where Most With Ravin I May Meet” is the longest cut at 10:12, spindling into oblivion before exploding and challenging your every inhibition. The pace warps the brain before it sets into a tricky, confusing terrain that will have your head permanently tilted to the side. Start-stop knifing takes over, as a thick bassline snakes through and brings dark elements along with it. The song eventually slows down, bringing with it the sensation that you’re succumbing to fever, unaware of your surroundings. Gurgled speaking bubbles up, while horns bleat their warnings, and a mystical fury brings the song to an end. The 5:52-long closer “Internecine Iatrogenesis” pours mathy conflict, while black, churning guitars do their damage and rip a hole in time. A massive storm lays waste, while wrenching growls and poisonous filth join forces to choke out any light. The drums plater, doom horns strike their last, and the entire things comes to a crashing, smoking death.

Deathspell Omega remain one of the pillars of modern black metal, and their style is that of the—excuse the cliché—often imitated, never duplicated. “The Synarchy of Molten Bones” is another unsettling chapter of their mission, one that might force you to struggle to get on their mental level, if you’re so inclined. If you’re tackling this is as a mere music event, you’ll be forced to rechannel some of the impulses in your brain and hang on to your psyche if you hope to come out unscarred.

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