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Deathspell Omega - "Drought" (CD/EP)

Deathspell Omega - "Drought" CD/EP cover image

"Drought" track listing:

1. Salowe Vision (3:45)
2. Fiery Serpents (4:15)
3. Scorpions & Drought (3:10)
4. Sand (1:40)
5. Abrasive Swirling Murk (3:50)
6. The Crackled Book of Life (4:20)

Reviewed by on July 16, 2012

"In short, the latest offering of evil conceived by Deathspell Omega is a must for black metal fans who want something as cerebral as it is brutal, and the added technicality makes the EP worth hearing repeatedly."

The 2010 full-length “Paracletus” (reviewed here) was already a leap forward in the misanthropic world of Deathspell Omega, so it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that the follow-up EP, “Drought,” changes gears again. Using the adventurous last album as a springboard, the arcane black metal act continues to take abrasive extreme metal into new and unexpected directions that alternate between dark atmosphere and skull crushing brutality.

Opening cut “Salowe Vision” is a bit of an oddball track on the EP, sounding essentially nothing like the rest of the release, and going at a much slower pace. The long echoes of distortion on dragged-out notes make it seem like the Omega has decided to try out doom or drone, but it’s really just a lead up to the destructively heavy version of metal that is more typical of the group on “Fiery Serpents.” If the subdued and ambient sections of the last album didn’t work for fans, they should still give “Drought” a listen, as there’s more in the ear-destroying, soul-draining black metal department this time around.

As usual, Deathspell Omega figures out new ways to weave an intensely chaotic and jarring sound into a complex musical experience that’s worth working through and somehow never devolves into just plain noise. The overall direction has definitely changed from previous releases, however. With the exception of short interlude track “Sand” and segments of closing song “The Crackled Book of Life,” the EP doesn’t have the discordant and twisted melody from “Paracletus,” and instead is more outright abrasive and even technical all the way through.

When the “melody” (so to speak) does hit, it’s still thoroughly steeped in everything that is heavy and anathema to the light. The track “Abrasive Swirling Murk” showcases some of Deathspell Omega’s finest efforts at ordering chaos and destroying order all within the same track. The stuttering, repeating guitar tones on the second half of the song might be less outright brutal than the preceding music, but it’s still incredibly dark and sounds like the product of a less-than-stable mind.

“Drought” does its job incredibly well by being an EP that is easily on par with a full-length release in terms of musical quality and overall experience. While it clearly shows influence from the sound of the last album, it also moves into entirely new musical territory and is neither a carbon copy nor a total departure. In short, the latest offering of evil conceived by Deathspell Omega is a must for black metal fans who want something as cerebral as it is brutal, and the added technicality makes the EP worth hearing repeatedly.

Highs: This is top-notch black metal that doesn't sacrifice the in-your-face, abrasive sounds, even while trying out bizarre melodies.

Lows: The opening track is a little out of place, and the EP doesn't seem to have as much of a unified theme as the last album.

Bottom line: Deathspell Omega continues its avant-garde approach to black metal with an EP that tops many band's full-length releases.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)