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Nick’s Condensed Metal Reviews: Liberté, égalité, le mal!

September 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Wolves in the Throne Room - "Celestial Lineage"

Here are some random observations on the HEAVY:

Wolves in The Throne Room – “Celestial Lineage” (Southern Lord Recordings) – Balanced on the knife’s edge of transcendent impulse to one side and embarrassing pretension to the other this somehow works – even the blackened Windham Hill interludes. Not quite genius, but close. I hope that the fact that “Woodland Cathedral” was featured on NPR made some pockmarked basement dwelling kvlt fuckwit’s head explode.

Liturgy – Aesthethica (Thrill Jockey) –  Too much of a good thing. It is funny how I liked this so much more before I heard all of it. It’s not bad at all, it just reminds me of Yngwie Malmsteen – in that 13 year old locked in a bathroom kinda way. I’m glad they are doing what they are doing, particularly that drummer – jerk-off or not. I just can’t listen to the whole thing. Small doses.

Brett Easton EllisImperial Bedrooms – Darker and immeasurably more disturbing than the blackest of black metal. Suffocating. Brilliant.

Asva – “Presences of Absences” (Important Records) – Along with Earth, Sunn ((O)) and Wolves this guy is pushing the boundaries. On my first listen I was non-plussed – the vocals grated – but I keep coming back. Arvo meets metal.

Pitchfork.com interview with Leviathan – Can he really be as stupid as he comes off ? Probably. He was right about:

Deafheaven – “Roads To Judah” (Deathwish Music) – Of all the Metalish bands to discover their older siblings My Bloody Valentine records these guys may be the best. Nothing groundbreaking, but solid workmanlike novel combinatory action.

In a previous installment I praised Deathspell Omega‘s “Paracletus.” After living with the record for a few months it occurs to me that one of the things that sets them apart is funk. Sweaty crotched, syncopated, dynamic, able to perform sexually funk. They are French so this is no huge surprise. These Gallic freaks seem to be a microcosm of their proud culture and make a music that in spite of their silly satanic posturing seems to be, at least in part, about sense gratification. Bless their blackened berets. Liberté, égalité, le mal!

Deathspell Omega – Satan’s Grad Student Theoreticians

Deathspell Omega - "Paracletus" (2010)

Deathspell Omega – “Paracletus” (Norma Evangelium Diaboli, 2010)

“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” This phrase appeared in Dante’s Divine Comedy when he strolled through the gates of H-E-Double-Toothpick but, honestly, it should be nailed above the door of every liberal arts department in graduate schools. Why? Because there are no jobs, no money, no nothing in academia these days unless you want a wheelbarrow full of low paying, long hour adjunct jobs, a circle of hell that Dante never visited. So what are a group of newly-minted Philosophy and Comparative Literature Ph.D.s supposed to do when they can’t find gainful employment commiserate with their educational accomplishments? Turn dark, bitter and resentful, transfer their years of marinating in Foucault, Deleuze, Guattari and Lyotard to an all-consuming obsession with Satan, form a band and release a trilogy of the most ferocious, dense and Satanic Black Metal discs the world has heard. And call their band, Deathspell Omega.

Now, granted, this scenario is pure speculation on my part. I can only guess about them because there is no biographical information about France’s Deathspell Omega – no website, no photographs, and only a few academic, impenetrable interviews. They refuse to play live shows and to tour. Deathspell Omega exists, it appears, only to spew the darkest vitriol.

Let’s get this straight at the start – most of the Satanic stuff in Black Metal is downright stupid. The band Gorgoroth, for example, has a song called “Procreating Satan.” Now, I can’t tell from the title or the lyrics what the song is about but if it is about “procreating” Satan then it should be titled, “Doing Satan’s Mom.” Deathspell Omega are not silly or stupid like Gorgoroth – they are intelligently and intensely serious about their Dark Overlord. They fancy themselves as theologians, theoreticians and ideologues of the Black Metal Satan sweepstakes.

Here is what little I have been able to piece together about Deathspell Omega. They recorded a demo, Disciples of the Ultimate Void, before putting together their first album, Infernal Battles, in 2000. Both of these efforts were supposedly Darkthrone-influenced generic Black Metal. In the years since these early efforts, the band had transformed themselves from an aggregation that survived by churning out derivative work to an experimental, technical and avant-garde, post-rock, dark metal behemoth.

The transformation began with the monumental Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice (Latin for “If You Seek His Monument, Look Around”) in 2004. It was the ferocious first installment of a trilogy of platters exploring the relationship of man and woman with God and Lucifer. The next installment of the trilogy Fas – Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum (“Divine Law – Depart from Me, Ye Cursed, into Everlasting Fire”) crawled out of the abyss three years later. The concluding disc, Paracletus, was released last month.

What does it sound like? Aggressive, dissonant, and intense – intense as hell:

Deathspell Omega – “Epiklesis I” and “Wings Of Predation”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7ENR2iGuy4&playnext=1&list=PL69FCF529A57F50F8&index=30

Musically, the album is gloriously resplendent in its atonality and seasick rhythmic complexity. It sounds as if Don Van Vliet had captained a Black Metal band when he cut “Ice Cream for Crow” or if Greg Ginn’s band had been called “Black Metal” instead of Black Flag.

The intensity of Paracletus makes it Black Metal’s only truly scary album.