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Deathspell Omega - "Paracletus" (CD)

Deathspell Omega - "Paracletus" CD cover image

"Paracletus" track listing:

1. Epiklesis I (1:42)
2. Wings of Predation (3:43)
3. Abscission (6:07)
4. Dearth (3:47)
5. Phosphene (7:03)
6. Epiklesis II (3:06)
7. Malconfort (4:57)
8. Have You Beheld the Fevers? (2:59)
9. Devouring Famine (5:09)
10. Apokatastasis Pantôn (4:01)

Reviewed by on April 27, 2011

"There’s enough of the raw and dirty sound to please the elitists who need their music to have the 'kvlt' descriptor, but honestly 'Paracletus' is really a progressive or technical metal work disguised as an old school necro release."

A band shrouded in mystery and mired in esoteric occultism, Deathspell Omega is an enigma that delights some and infuriates others. Some view their secrecy and focus on cryptic religious themes as nothing more than a gimmick meant to draw in those who will proclaim allegiance to avoid the appearance that they don’t understand deeper meanings in the music. On the other end are fanatical followers who see Deathspell Omega’s blend of old school black metal with new school technicality as the second coming of the (anti) Christ. Whether there really is any hidden meaning to the music, and whether the religious iconography is really just nonsense or not, “Paracletus” is undeniably a musical triumph that deserves to be heard.

Vastly different even from 2004’s “Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice,” the latest album from the enigmatic black metal act is constantly infused with melody. But it’s a broken, twisted kind of melody that doesn’t ever let the listener forget they are hearing something evil through and through. Rather than cold or brutal, the overall sound is mysterious and evokes a sense of tense anticipation almost constantly. Unlike with most other black metal bands, there is looming bass presence to be found on “Paracletus,” lurking under every riff and around every corner.

Although there are tempo changes and unexpected style shifts galore, overall the album is rather dense, but still worth working through. The vocal delivery is muted and blends into the music, which surprisingly isn’t much of a downside here, as it fits the style. There’s enough of the raw and dirty sound to please the elitists who need their music to have the “kvlt” descriptor, but honestly “Paracletus” is really a progressive or technical metal work disguised as an old school necro release. It’s quite the feat to make something that could be equally raved about by lovers of either lo-fi black metal or avant-garde and melodic music.

Showing how layered and connected the music is to the philosophy and the entire overall package, the artwork is a fantastic metaphor for the album itself. The art is understated, but still chaotic and fiery with a hint of menace. There’s a touch of old ugliness, but it’s delivered in a more accessible and exciting way than would be expected. Even if the nature of the band may come off as pretentious or overblown to some, “Paracletus” is a fantastically well balanced album with music that shouldn’t be missed by anyone who digs black metal.

Highs: A weird, twisted melody infuses the old school style black metal

Lows: Occasionally the blast beats get a bit old, but there's usually something amazing right around the corner to take over

Bottom line: Old school black metal styling clashes violently with twisted melody and and avant-garde sense of adventure.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 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)