Deathspell Omega - Drought (2012)Release ID: 845
A Fiery Taste
It's somewhat unbelievable that I can look at the over 2,000 albums that I've listened to up to this point and still feel intimidated by certain bands. I've delved into the depths of Brutal Death and Goregrind, as well as enveloped myself in the chaotic static of underground Black and War Metal, but something about the reputation that precedes Frenchmen Deathspell Omega keeps me at a firm arm's length from truly spending time with them. I knew that their discography was daunting, but I was unaware of their secondary lineup of highly praised EP's that began to be released after their initial 2004 breakout album Si monvmentvm reqvires, circvmspice. Most consist of one twenty minute song or simple movements like Kénôse, but Drought asserts itself as a miniature Deathspell Omega experience that provides something more hectic, aggressive, and blunt than their standard winding and dissonant melodies. The slow and brooding opener "Salowe Vision" is able to lull the listener into thinking they may be in for another Paracletus experience, but "Fiery Serpents" bursts in and shelves all those preconceived notions. The clearer and louder overall production, the punchier drums, the sharper guitars, and the more balanced but haggard vocals see Deathspell Omega move into more traditional and slightly more Math-y Progressive Metal territory all while retaining their unhinged chaos in terms of their songwriting and rhythm structures. Drought brings a forceful heaviness that feels a bit alien for the band, especially since the fiery, evil atmosphere of Paracletus is historically what they've done best, but this short EP shows that their overall style is able to be shaped and wrought in slightly different ways to produce material that's just as compelling. Despite being an intimidatingly dense 20 minutes, I really enjoy the balance that Deathspell Omega has been able to create, with "Fiery Serpents", "Scorpions & Drought", and the first half of "Abrasive Swirling Murk" being absolute pandemonium and an obvious inspiration for later acts like the currently popular Serpent Column. "Sand" and "The Crackled Book of Life" slow things down a bit at the end without sacrificing any of the harrowing and jagged riffing that keeps Drought pushing forward.
Even though it's only 20 minutes long, there's a lot to take in when it comes to the beginning of Deathspell Omega's metamorphosis into their more modern style that they'd debut on The Synarchy of Molten Bones four years later. The band has since then gone through even more changes, sadly in a direction that leaves me less interested than something like Drought, so it's been exciting to finally sit down and be able to try and digest a bit of what Deathspell Omega has to offer. It's impressive how chaotic and crushing the riffs and drumming can be while still maintaining a sense of coherency, which is what is ultimately able to keep me interested given the jammed nature of their music. It's hard for me to say this is an absolutely outstanding release though, given it's length and slight pacing issues, but at the same time I think the length is what makes this album a standout in their discography. With the rest of their EP's being 20-minute single song marathons, having a bite-sized slice of Deathspell Omega isn't necessarily a bad thing at the end of the day. As someone who wants to appreciate this band more but never seems to be in the right mood, Drought is a fantastic gateway album that doesn't require as much commitment or focus as their more complex and sinister albums. Thanks to its less muddled production, it's able to pack a hell of a punch that highlights and elevates their classic sounding riffs compared to their recent, safer, and more balanced albums The Furnaces of Palingenesia or The Long Defeat. I think it's safe to say that I have some Deathspell Omega albums to catch up with now that Drought was able to successfully drag me back into their ominous and tumultuous inferno.