Review Summary: A lot of noise signifying nothing.
Paracletus is the third and final LP installment in a series of three albums by Deathspell Omega disparately harrowing on the relationship between man and God. Paracletus meaning in Latin ‘comforter or advocate' is their most defining work, refining elements of their spanned career into a focused effort. As corny as it is, there are few words more succulently culminative than to describe its sound than transcendental. This album is a narrative epic, vocals may be indistinguishable but are merely a vessel for the backdrop to draw its abstract and philosophical nature.
Similarly to Gorguts a la death metal before them, Deathspell Omega are turning black metal on its proverbial inverted cross, churning a sound that is extremely dissonant, challenging and complex. While this album can be absolutely pummeling (such as the extended intro of Devouring Famine), it is also in equal parts evocatively beautiful. The trio opening tracks blend into each other seamlessly Epiklesis/Wings Of Perdition/Abscission starting with a jubilation of guitars, that naturally progress into tom blasts and absolute madness as it is torn raw from the aether. Staying at the same tone, each performance swells concluding in Abscission, sporting one of the wildest drum performances you have probably ever heard. At first the album sounds messy; instruments are in different time signatures – but it all comes together. The drums are free, they dance around the soundscape never feeling like they are holding back from expressing themselves, striking at each opportune moment, as passionately as possible. Freedom works well for the album, as the production is much cleaner and precise than previous efforts, even most licks of the bass are audible and exactly where they need to be placed allowing each instrument to be expressed unbridled. Even though the instruments are all different they have a common narrative and sound that work in convergence towards the telling of something, whatever esoteric tale it is exactly that Deathspell Omega are aiming for.
I have spent months on end delving into Deathspell Omega’s lyrics. Paracletus is primarily inspired by a wide array of historic intellects, biblical stories and most respectfully the French philosopher George Bastille. To give some context to the lyrics, Deathspell Omega are metaphysically Satanists (not theological) – they believe all that there is - is flawed - as it is made by man who is flawed. All that humanity is to ever interpret is always doomed to failure and in shedding our humanity, we can become closer to perfection synonymously death. Humanity is damned by its sins and pre-destined for perdition. The meaning is nihilistic but very interesting juxtaposed next to the glory that is the idea of perfection (the divine). When I listen to their music, I feel inspired, inspired to think deeper – I can’t understand the lyrics, the lyrics are esoteric but if anything, they’re thought provoking and I think that is the point. We as humans can never grasp this world because it is always through a human lens but in mustering what we can we can find beauty. Deathspell Omega are nihilists, perhaps in the most pessimistic of sense but regardless as a stage 4 cancer patient myself, struggling to come to terms with my reality, I can’t help but find there is some beauty in the adventure of finding my own meaning.
Paracletus is an excellent way to end the trilogy. Part I Circumspice bows before the glory of Satan. Part II Fas finds the unmarked, docile apostle descend into unfathomable perdition and come to terms with the insignificance of man. Part III Paracletus, where we are now, is the lesson, it reassures us we are in a cycle of servitude destined for nothing. The message of Deathspell Omega’s nihilism is that of transcendence, the transcendence of our mortal coil and endless cycle – to attain enlightenment we need abscission – to shed humanity.
The album is broken up into 3 parts given the opening interlude, middle and closer. We start with transcendence possibly from hell in Epiklesis I, mourn what we thought was the way of the world in Dearth in a slow burning and powerful dirge that lyrically resets perspective and musically resets volition. Without mercy, we are in the final translation, Apokastasis Panton, which I believe is one of the greatest pieces of music ever conceived. It is the sweltering climax of the trilogy, an instrumental, a final statement piece - both an invitation and an actual visceral experience and showing of the abstractly promised land: nothingness. The closer highlights the unbridled beauty of tremolo black metal, it is sweltering, exhaustive and absolutely stunning. Deathspell Omega has made it clear in interviews that they don't just believe black metal is a genre, it is a philosophy and a way of life they hold in the highest of respects. Black metal is never reserving, never holding back and in some senses the most freedom we can rally in our shackled worlds – the .999 infinite on our way to the unreachable 1.
As of writing this it has now been 10 years since the release of this album. While Deathspell Omega still remain widely esoteric and unknown it is incredible the number of people that have been moved enough to create works in their influence and footsteps since. I firmly believe this trilogy is ahead of its time and we will continue to see the implications of its work for decades to come. Many people have tried to capture its essence but what I think sets Deathspell Omega apart is their clear conviction in presenting a philosophy in sound that keeps the work cohesive and purposeful. Capturing the energy of an idea is a difficult concept and even less often found in black metal.
The official names of Deathspell Omega’s band members have never been released; they have never performed live. The music is a representation of itself in the purest form. Paracletus is not easy to digest, understand or apologetic for it. Deathspell Omega have crafted an exercise in music transcending words – it’s a narrative, and a philosophy personified and obfuscated through sound.