Review Summary: The Furnaces of Palingenesia exists as a dissertation to the listener, from the perspective of a tyrant who has dystopian ambitions and the society which would exist if those ambitions were realized.
On Deathspell Omega's latest record The Furnaces of Palingenesia, the band explore the themes of manipulation, domination, and dystopian ideas. While these themes aren't anything entirely new for the band, the narrative expressed here is, perhaps, the most overt that we have gotten from the band since their earliest albums. The narrative is only slightly veiled this time. The veil is lifted enough to allow the listener to much more easily understand the intent of the album.
The listener gets to hear a dissertation of sorts. Detailing an ideal society and how that society would come to fruition. The thing is though, Deathspell Omega adds their cynical view subtly into this dissertation. The commentary here is delivered with a cynical, mocking tone. So, what is the idea exactly? A perfect state, one where things like free thought and even free will are stamped out in the name of perfection, the collective, and domination. Enslaving people through manipulation and using the slaves to create ''paradise.'' Make no mistake, this is not an album that should be taken at face value, the narrative here is told from the perspective of the ''Big Brother'' order. The album functions much like films do, Aspa plays a character on the album, not unlike some previous albums but this is worth keeping in mind while listening to the album. The anger here is present throughout and Deathspell Omega's obvious contempt for these ideas is easily heard in singer Mikko Aspa's vocal delivery as well as commentary.
With lines about keeping children ignorant and indoctrinating them from a young age, there is certainly a religious component to the album. Elsewhere on the album, though, spirituality is said to be secondary to the goals of the collective. This album is, seemingly, very much about the uniformization of society and losing all individuality. Creating a predictable, homogeneous mob who only serve the ''greater good'' is a theme that is constant throughout The Furnaces of Palingenesia. The ''greater good'' isn't one thing or another, it is whatever the few in power tell you it is. The difference between this album and every other Deathspell Omega album is that on here, the darkest thing that is depicted is human nature. All of the darkness on this album comes from the grim depictions of sacrificing human lives and manipulating weak people with promises of a better future. Lyrics on the album give the impression of a rising order who subjugate and homogenize others:
''We will dissolve your individuality in the multitude, you will feel free after relinquishing the burden of responsibility; you will feel free while obeying orders and swallowing the chewed leftovers of those ranking above you.
We shall answer to your longing to be but one thread of the many which make up a tunic, indistinguishable from the others; so as to conceal your weakness as you cannot bear another minute the ruthless testing that comes with freedom.
O hound, feral dog, we shall grant you freedom from freedom, relief from frustration.''
These lyrics are from the single from the album ''Ad Arma! Ad Arma!'' The song's video offers a glimpse into the band's world, previously unseen. In the video, we see groups of homogenous men marching towards a giant guillotine, oblivious and unaware, seemingly that they are doing so. Again, the common theme throughout the album is creating a new order which will dominate all who oppose them. To get there, the tyrants in charge will use slaves, essentially, by manipulating them. Furthering this idea is the song ''Standing on the Work of Slaves.'' The lyrics promise a brighter future which comes after the suffering, but again, Deathspell Omega have obvious contempt for these ideas which is all over the lyrics to the song:
''You will be made to deny the dissonance and conflict that is at the heart of the experience of our World. You shall join the chorus of praise that flows from the absolute perfection we have created by the sole power of our will. We shall bleed you white, but you will think that it is an act of unconditional love.
As an educational tool, pain has a value nothing can replace. It shall therefore be the cement of our society. We shall build monuments that will last a thousand years upon the wailing of the multitude, upon the labour of the slaves. Everything in this immense, beautiful machine shall be wheels, pulleys and cords. The connections, however, shall seem fortuitous to you.
We will pretend to have peace in our hearts yet, knowing that blows will avail, we shall keep the dagger near. We are therefore certain to overflow.
When the final resistance hangs on the gallows… Oh yes, I promise unto thee, when the final resistance hangs on the gallows, love will then blossom with the ardor of flowers in the midst of spring, place your faith
in this promise!''
You see that they add their own commentary in the song, and many songs on the album, ''We shall bleed you white, but you will think that it is an act of unconditional love.''
This duality gives the album an interesting charm and dynamic. One of the best things about this band is how much they leave up to the listener and this album is no different. With the 20-page booklet that accompanies the album, much like other albums, it is a study in academia, not just music. So, that's a brief overview of some of the ideas present on the album, but what does it actually sound like? Well, much like Synarchy of Molten Bones, it exists as one piece, not just lyrically but musically.
Everything is connected but that doesn't mean there isn't any room for exploration. In fact, the closing song, as well as ''1523'' are both very slow-paced and sorrowful. The closing track, ''You Cannot Even Find the Ruins...'' has a Doom Metal quality to it. It is as if everything which happened on the album up to that point was just a lead up to the inevitable collapse and depression. The vocals on the song are very weary-sounding. The lyrics seem to depict the aftermath of the ultimate destruction of the ''perfect'' world mentioned previously on the album. The song is unlike any other Deathspell Omega song to date.
The song ''Renegade Ashes'' has this intense build up and explosion towards the end. The music swells with ominous sounding horns(?) and the atmosphere created therein is desolate and foreboding. There's a massive gong hit on the song that gives way to more pronounced horns and it all sounds like a manifestation of some sort of conflict. Like that song, the song ''Standing on the Work of Slaves'' which comes just before it, has triumphant sounding guitar builds and a vocal delivery from Aspa which is the most intense of the entire album, he sounds maniacal, and intense and commanding just like the tyrant he plays on the album.
It is truly disturbing but also beautiful at the same time. It has a classic Deathspell Omega vibe and harkens back to songs such as ''Abscission'' from Paracletus. The build-up and ending have a finality to them that is truly awe-inspiring. After this, the song ''Absolutist Regeneration'' continues the narrative with lyrics like ''Everything is a lie but that which we feed you. Believe me.''
A religious theme comes up in this song too, as it's mentioned that there is a greater power which controls and makes the rules and men should be slaves to it, the lyrics separate the two, again for manipulative purposes:
''The standpoint of the Order is not the standpoint of men; its wisdom is incomparable; what may seem to be against your interests may be in fact the best means of realizing them; unlike the Order, we cannot judge what is best for the whole.
We shall leave sufficient doubt about the Laws - or change them on a whim - so as to breed superstition, therefore turning adults into insecure, foolish children, stuttering panicked words of flattery and idolatry in a vain bid to tip the scales. We shall make sure that the smallest of your dreams is guaranteed to turn into a nightmare so that your thoughts never wander from the here and now. Today we protect, tomorrow we abandon you.
Behold the fatal process of human civilization, and let’s raise a glass as the hour of redemption has come.''
So, Deathspell Omega (not Mikko Aspa, which is kind of funny - that they got him to sing these lyrics) are anti-authoritarian and it's obvious on this album, their contempt for these ideas. The band's Luciferian ideas (they aren't STRICTLY Luciferian but it's obvious they are somewhat) are directly opposed to the world which is depicted on The Furnaces of Palingenesia. The band (or at least Hasjarl, who runs NoEvDia, who released the album) have said that the album is ''a prophetic abomination.''
We can only assume that that means they fear this sort of thing happening in society and are aware that it may one day happen.
With all that said, what I've written here are only my initial thoughts on the album. I may be completely mistaken and wrong. I welcome it if that's the case. Because there are seemingly endless layers to this band and their music. It's always a journey of discovery with them. I encourage you to also discover the album and explore its themes. Deathspell Omega provides another vast, sprawling album which engages the listener's imagination. It has a lot of replay value due to this fact.
That's all for now but I may add on to this review or edit it in the future if I discover errors or new things worth mentioning.