Review Summary: Be sure to bring water...
The Earth is shaking once again in France. It's only been two (pretty damn meager) years since the French progressive black metal act Deathspell Omega (abbreviated as DsO) fired up the scene with Paracletus
, their sixth and most devastating take on the genre yet. This masterful record was created mostly by the band carefully refining their trademark sound which consists of a very dense, heavy atmosphere being fused with strong, technical instrumentation. This led, as said, to devastating results but also raised the bar for the quality of the band's future recordings to a nearly unattainable level. Now, DsO wouldn't be DsO if they wouldn't keep finding new ways to expand upon their sound without betraying its core elements. And so, after those two long years of waiting for a new round of soul-crushing tunes, they finally released their new EP Drought
, which marks another important turning point in the developing of the band's sound.
, as impressive as it may be as a standalone effort, can and should not be viewed separately from the band's previous LP. Because, as distinctively different as they sound on certain moments like the groove-inspired mellowness of the album's opener 'Salowe Vision', so similar they sound on key tracks like 'Fiery Serpents' and 'Scorpions and Drought', where the band's ferociousness and technical precision take the songs to a higher level in a seemingly effortless way. By that I mean that one can easily imagine people having become used to DsO kicking things up to such a level that their fans have pretty much become accustomed to it. It can be easy to overlook how much effort actually goes into this kind of complicated songwriting.
A special mention goes to what might be the biggest surprise on this EP, the epic closer 'The Crackled Book of Life'. This instrumental track features an amazing combination of frightening violin strokes with down-tuned distorted guitar riffs which, when put together, end up creating what might be the best thing DsO have created to date. It surely shows that they still have a few more tricks up their sleeves that don't require high-speed drumming or highly technical guitar playing. It's good that the album ends on such a high note, because 'The Crackled Book of Life' has to make up for the only low point on the album: 'Abrasive Swirling Murk'. This song waddles in mediocrity and is only saved by a mildly entertaining guitar riff halfway through the song which, strangely enough, sounds like it came straight from Enslaved's latest album, Axioma Ethica Odini
As a whole, Drought
not only serves as a reminder of how amazing of a band DsO really are, it also shows their willingness to shake things up a little with a wide array of influences. It might take a while before we will be able to hear which direction they will be going next, but if this EP is any indication then it's going to rule for sure. Until that happens, Drought
will suffice as a means of quenching our thirst...