Review Summary: The pinnacle of an already established and respected sound, Paracletus is the very best of what Deathspell Omega have produced thus far
Those familiar with Deathspell Omega won’t be surprised by the focus on winding guitar riffs that are as complex as they are bizarre, a trait that the band has used since their inception to distinguish themselves from other bands in the expanding French black metal scene. Their unorthodox song structures shatter petty genre preconceptions like blast beats and ceaseless tremolo-picked riffs, recognizing that the genre is beyond these simplistic notions that went out of style shortly after the collapse of the second-wave Norwegian scene. Instead, we are met with infinitely progressive compositions and musicianship that, despite the chaotic nature of it all is painstakingly precise in its execution and contribution to the finished product. Such is the case with Paracletus
, an album that takes the advances Deathspell Omega have made in their sound since the release of Si Monvmentvm Reqvires, Circvmspice
and refines them to near perfection.
It’s almost eerie how well each and every riff works to further the overall atmospheric presence, one that is monolithic in scale and extremely potent. The chaos of complex riffing no sooner gives way to relatively simple and plodding strings of notes before shifting to a set of uniquely bizarre and unsettling melodies. The pace is constantly shifting in multiple directions, never settling on one course of action for too long, but then again never too brief to be labeled as spastic or disjointed. From the incredibly thick atmosphere fueled by spoken-word French in “Dearth” to the brazen insanity of “Have You Beheld The Fevers?”, Paracletus
works its course in covering an incredible amount of ground without being dragged down by the near-constant shuffling in tempo and mood. The ability for the album to tie itself together via the duo of “Epiklesis I” and “Epiklesis II” is noteworthy, making it seem like everything going on is a part of a singular cohesive unit that must be seen as such.
This tendency for the album to appear as more than the sum of its parts is an admirable feat for a release that runs for forty-two minutes with a total of ten tracks, its short running time and higher track count suggesting an album that comes off as far more fragmented than Paracletus
actually is. The impressive drumming ushers in a fervent sense of chaos during the more intense tracks and a wandering plodding when the music breaks for a slower atmospheric moment. The impressively technical riffs are paired perfectly with Mikko Aspa’s growls and shrieks, providing brilliant fodder from which the album churns out its more unsettling moments, backed by the incoherent and often jumbling lyrics that are both dense and deep in nature. Paracletus
marks the final chapter in the band's trilogy depicting metaphysical observations about God, the Devil, and Man, a concept that is directly reflected in the spiritualistic nature of the lyrics.
It’s easy to single out Paracletus
as the best release in Deathspell Omega’s catalogue, one that is laden with already stellar albums. It lacks the dragging length of Si Monvmentvm Reqvires, Circvmspice
and trims down the track lengths of Fas - Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum
, all in an effort to create a more focused and compelling release that is perfectly embodied in Paracletus
. It is the very best of what the band has to offer, and leaves behind the few shortcomings that existed in past releases. What we are left with is the embodiment of what makes Deathspell Omega as great as they are. The infinitely complex and progressive song structures accompany musicianship and songwriting that is at the top of its game, all sewn into a neat package that is exactly the right length. If Deathspell Omega continue to release material of this caliber in the future, they will undoubtedly be propelled into the upper echelon of the black metal elite.