Review Summary: Pssst. Hey, kid. You wanna hear about Palingenesia?
Deathspell Omega's music is so fu
cking ruthless that even the greasiest heathens from the dankest, mustiest basements of the black metal underground endorse them. Case in point, Mikko Aspa of Clandestine Blaze fame namedropped them in an interview with Chronicles of Chaos, stating that Deathspell Omega are “among [his] favourites,” which is a pretty lucky stroke for him considering that they were “also being released on Northern Heritage,” his label, at that time. I swear I'm not joking. Consequently, if I hear one more of you gormless halfwits sni
gger and say something to the tune of 'clandestine indeed' in reference to him actually being part of Deathspell Omega, you might just get stabbed at the next anti-fascist literature event you attend. I'm just saying that there's precedent, as Sampsa Muhonen did
stab someone at such an event one time, and it had nothing to do with the fact that Mikko Aspa has performed with him in the band Pagan Skull on multiple occasions. It takes courage to detach yourself from the ideological shackles your government has placed upon you and utilise violence in the fashion of our more meritorious ancestors. You've got to break a few Jews to make a pyramid, right?
You know what also takes courage? Listening to The Furnaces of Palingenesia
. This shi
t is so hard that a bag of prunes couldn't shift it once it lodges itself inside you. No doubt you're still trying to process the fecal impaction inducing burrito that is The Synarchy of Molten Bones
, an album that's more densely packed with brash masculinity than your mother's vagina, but fear not, child, for Deathspell Omega's latest endeavour also has a soft side. Picture Synarchy
as the slew of men that ran train on your mother before you were born, and picture Furnaces
as the guy that swooped in to scavenge at the carrion of a clunge that said men left behind.
This means, in a more literal sense, that The Furnaces of Paligenesia
is a more natural and dynamic album than its predecessor, and also the most organic sounding record of the band's career. Furnaces
was recorded on entirely analog equipment as a full band performance, and it makes a hell of a difference. The atmosphere created is viscerally stifling and humid. The wildly memorable melodies of Paracletus
again take a backseat, but can be found sporadically enough to whet your appetite. Dynamically, unlike Synarchy
, the balls occasionally stop making contact with the walls. This gives the music something which Mikko Aspa would love to deny from a myriad of minorities- space to breathe.
I know it's only vaguely relevant- because he's definitely not in the band- but I'll concede that Aspa has already cleared the air surrounding his views on race. Way the fu
ck back in 2001 Alvin Wee (haha) asked him up front whether the hatred portrayed in songs such as Tearing Down Jerusalem
or [gas] Chambers
was specifically racially motivated. Aspa claimed that he doesn't “have any special deep hatred for some race. I don't necessarily like gypsies or street ni
ggers here, but in general, I don't like average Finns or Swedish speaking minority either!” When it comes to Jews, they “are [a] target because of their religion and what comes along with it. It's not a racial issue for me.” See, he doesn't hate gypsies, street ni
ggers, and Jews because of their race, he's just a misanthrope
. You've obviously
never read Nietsche, cretin.
Speaking of which, lyrically Deathspell Omega's predilection for philosophy is still prevalent on Furnaces
. Coincidentally, their heart-on-sleeve reverence of many specific philosophers and historical figures aligns astoundingly well with those that Mikko Aspa has mentioned over the years. This isn't too surprising, seeing as the band have “noticed how close [they] really are...he is one among very few who truly shares a fascination and appreciation for things of an utterly sadistic nature that I will not unveil here.” Mysterious, huh? Almost as mysterious as the literally 78 names dropped during Deathspell Omega's 2019 interview with Bardo Methodology, of which a mere fourteen are philosophers. Don't get it twisted, Deathspell Omega are well-read; the names dropped include poets, novelists, scholars, many controversial historical figures, a Prussian general, an Italian engineer, a paleoanthropologist, an Iranian spiritual leader, a Greek titan, a big data company, the cowboy from Mulholland Drive, and a multitude of other seemingly disparate individuals.
Woah there, buddy! Keep that razor away from that full head of hair of yours for just a moment. I know, you start getting all hard whenever Aspa starts namedropping philosophers (meaning you're actually perpetually erect), and that's going to be a bit of a problem. You see, in perhaps the world's most pathetic interview back in 2009 on Tiny Mix Tapes, Andy Ortmann asked Mikko Aspa a question that would go down in journalistic history. The exchange went a little something like this:
Q.Do you think Gay Skinheads should go to hell?
A.They aren't there already?
That's right, Mr. 'I-take-photos-of-people-self-harming-and-sell-it-as-pornography-from-the-same-store-that-I-use-to-distribute-National-Socialist-propaganda' has a problem with two blokes bumming each other. This is an absurdly basic take from a self-proclaimed paragon of the free-thinking community.
Anyway, keeping in mind that Mikko Aspa is NOT
in the band, we don't need to keep his self-described “radicalism that rejects anthropocentrism and liberal humanism” in mind when processing the lyrics of The Furnaces of Palingenesia
. It also means that we can entirely ignore and totally not endorse the neo-nazi movement's claim upon the term palingenesia, which goes a step beyond the literal interpretation of the word (rebirth) by alluding specifically to a revolution in which white supremacists claim their position of superiority by force. The band actually thoroughly covered this quandary in their latest interview, in which they dedicated a whopping 750 words and nine references to scholars and artists to clarifying their stance, creating a web of obfuscation so sticky that after reading it I felt that Shelob had finally caught me, and I started involuntarily frothing at the mouth Frodo-style. Suddenly I didn't need to view the uber-authoritarian system of government depicted on this album as a projection of Aspa's worldview, as much as a line like “we drew a partisan line and you shall stand either on its left or on its right” might sound like rhetoric that allows Aspa to define his racism as 'free-thinking.'
All that shi
t aside, the lyrics on this album are legitimately fu
cking terrifying, and really bring the album to life. The narrative sees a populace not just controlled by authoritarianism, but utterly and brutally dominated. Pain is used as an ideological weapon, and the only joy a citizen under this regime is allowed to experience is achieved through the glory of marching into battle and murdering infidels. Life is forfeit to progress, and is utterly meaningless compared to the larger picture. The story told is harrowing, the delivery intimidating, and the songwriting that ties it all together is stupendous. The band switches gears at all the right times, matching the tone of the sermon in its calls to take up arms, to rain fury down upon political foes, to eschew the self entirely, to sacrifice your very being to the gaping maw of the political machine, and to gaze upon the ruin of our creation with indifference. Ultimately, it's bleak as fu
As a quick aside in defense of Mikko Aspa, who totally isn't in Deathspell Omega, I put this question upon you. Is Social Darwinism the best port of call for a man with such a thicc frame? Survival of the fittest could prove difficult for him. You almost can't see the swastika behind his Aryan bulk in that photo of him playing drums for Goatmoon (it's totally there though). All of the ties to NSBM, swastikas, and quotes like “It would appear that I know, live and identify more with national socialism than most of the people that describe themselves as such” are actually quite misleading. Aspa is actually a social activist with a heart of gold. He was involved in not just one, but two of the bands that performed at the SUPPORT EPPU fundraising gig in 2016. This gig was arranged for Jesse Eppu Torniainen, a murderer who was serving time for assaulting a man who had voiced opposition at a public demonstration by the Nordic Resistance Movement (an alleged neo-nazi organisation). This assault ultimately resulted in a fatal brain haemorrhage. Some humanists would be close-minded enough to say that this crime necessitated punitive punishment, but Mikko Aspa- misanthrope or philanthropist?- looked past the story that the evidence told, and decided that this was a human worth standing behind.
Honestly, despite all of this horrible shi
t, there's value to be found in Deathspell Omega's meandering intellectualisms. Their latest interview provides an interesting lens to view the album through, a decent argument for separating art from artists, and challenges listeners to critically engage with not just the album's content, but to also go away and try to learn some shi
t. Sure, the interview is ponderously pretentious, and anything but forthcoming about the serious allegations being levelled at the band, but it's also thoroughly engaging and thought-provoking in its content. It works in conjunction with the album, helping it to not just stand on its own, but to tower menacingly over many a complacent artist that's too scared to push the envelope. It's both awe-inspiringly monstrous and frighteningly relevant, no matter where your politics lie. It should come as no surprise; the band are on one of the hottest streaks of anyone within the genre. Nevertheless, it's flabbergasting that so many people are still throwing money at a band with proven ties to organised racism, especially when you consider the ideas that Aspa frequently proliferates with his finances. I guess it goes to show just how good the band are, just how beneficial anonymity can be, and just how convenient it is to be ignorant.