Review Summary: Very conceptual, dissonant, and thought provoking if you take the time to care about what is being said here.
Deathspell Omega is a band that has a certain amount of mystery around it. The (newer) lyrical themes and abstract album concepts have always been a cause for intrigue. The members are unknown though it is pretty clear that Mikko from Clandestine Blaze joined DSO before the release of this EP. Being a band that delivers on all fronts, not just music it is rather important to actually own a DSO release, not just have mp3s. The booklet for this, which is rather long contains perverse images, often modifications and grotesque takes on religious images typical of Deathspell Omega. Lyrics are revealed as being noting more than extracts from sources like the Bible and various quotes which one most piece together in order understand the conceptual side of things.
The songs have no titles, simply I, II, and III. Musically DSO is rather diverse and almost technical (in a rhythmic and calculating way, not a fast solo-ish way). The music revolves almost entirely on the tritone, the devils interval as it was called in medieval times. This makes the music extremely unsettling and tense with no real resolution. Slow arpeggiated passages, fast riffs, and even the occasional acoustic break are all found within the first few minutes. Vocals tend to be slow with no pattern or rhythmic hook (due to the nature of the lyrics). Vocals are also pretty low, not the typical shriek, more guttural and from the stomach than the back of the throat.
The music struggles to hold interest being almost entirely based on dissonance and ugliness which can be a cause for boredom (which is why an EP is about all I can listen to all the way through by DSO). That's why it is important to add the element of lyrics and visuals to the equation, giving deeper implications to the somewhat shallow music. This works but it is debatable whether or not this is simply a ploy to cover up the mediocre music. If you introduced the typical black metal lyrics and corpse paint band photos this album would probably be horribly mediocre.
To the bands credit they do try to create some interesting passages, adding things like church choirs and interesting instrument combinations. It is an odd thing hearing a slower bass/drum/acoustic guitar break in the music, especially with non-standard drum patterns. These moments are far too few though, it just seems as if the band can't get out of the pattern of making extremely tritone oriented arpeggio riffs. There's probably a reason for all of the sections musical styles as they are meant to work with the lyrics in a certain fashion, but I haven't taken the time to read the lyrics in the context of hearing the music while they're being sung, something which is probably a good thing to do to get the whole message across.
As you probably know by now this is NOT easy listening. The songs over little harmonic satisfaction, no resolve, and leave you with little to remember besides a ton of dissonance. I think the whole metaphysical side of the lyrics and art is worth trying to understand but the band should mainly be working with making good music. the album is a bit to conceptual and almost pretentious for me, others may however find it fascinating. It is very likely that others will be bored with it as well.
Available in the US through Southern Lord in digipak form.