Friday, November 16, 2012

Deathspell Omega - Drought

Deathspell Omega, the French avant-garde black metal giants, have released two of the most highly regarded extreme metal albums of the past five years. This summer they put out their newest EP, Drought.

This EP carries the same intoxicating blend of creativity and ferocity that Deathspell Omega have become known for. This is not so much on the black metal end of the band's sound, though it's still terrifically intense and aggressive. There is a lot going on here, with odd beats and dissonant guitar progressions keeping the listener slightly off-balance as the band surges forward with a non-stop assault. The production perfectly captures the required blend of clarity and grit, allowing the performances to shine through.

I have no idea who handles the drumming duties for the band these days, but whoever it is does an admirable job on this record. They blast away with tons of energy when it's needed, and they just as easily slide over into lighter, jazzy beats when those are called for instead. The guitar work is scintillating. It's fast and sharp with strange progressions and an array of shifting, swirling riffs. The bass doesn't take center stage too often, but it crops up and plays an appropriate role in fleshing out the sound and adding some depth to the dynamic instrumental interplay on display. There are also some synths or keyboards in the background, though those only take on a noticeable role in a few brief passages near the end. The unrelentingly intense vocals are really noteworthy too, since they have more character than most extreme metal vocals, and they lack nothing in terms of power and impact.

Fans of the band have come to expect the best from these guys. Though it's not a full-length record, this does not disappoint. I'd say it's the one EP that has a good shot at making my end-of-year top albums list.

Grade: A
If you like Deathspell Omega's other recent albums, or just experimental and interesting black metal in general, you'll like this.

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