As far as I’m concerned, Deathspell Omega remain one of the most challenging and interesting projects in extreme metal today. And when I say “challenging and interesting,” I’m not only referring to elements purely of an auditory nature. Naturally, the focus of music reviews is normally spent canvassing musical details, but to me, DsO push the height of intrigue to a level where I find I have no choice but to obsess over the entire package in order to fully grasp what’s on the menu.
Of course, the music can be enjoyed while knee-deep in any number of mundane everyday tasks, but these records are ultimately best suited for those who understand that they require devout attention to the words, the sounds and the visuals simultaneously and with equal heed. This serves the band well, because it renders the catalog rather unfit for piracy, which is refreshing and obviously smart.
“Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” – Habukkuk
As confessed by the band through The Ajna Offensive years ago, Deathspell Omega take a fairly different approach to the creation of their music in that the foetal structure is not germinated through the use of notes, but by what’s initially penned with lyrics. These words are as essential a piece to the metaphysical puzzle as the music that eventually poisons your ears. Veritas Diaboli Manet in Aeternum: Chaining the Katechon points toward End Days consideration, and more specifically, the events involving the katechon, or “the one who restrains.” At its crux, it’s a slice of Pauline epistle involving the leavening of iniquity, the great Apostasy, the eventual rise of the Son of Perdition, and the second coming of the Messiah. According to Paul, preventing the occurrence of the arrival of the Antichrist is something (datechon) or someone (katechon) that/who is restraining him. The lyrics contained herein paint a sickly landscape of populations gathering during End Times as “slopes slaver pus towards the sky,” and as the flock promenades and collectively “drink the Lord’s blood from the trough,” they bask in the rotten light of temple that imprisons the katechon, whose release leads to the arrival of the Antichrist. Intriguing material for those with a profane or moral interest in the Scripture, and the subject matter matches up well with the aggressive music at hand.
“And he said unto them, he who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” – Mark
The band’s portent of eventually steering the ship into waters not involving the black metal realm was clearly pushed to the back burner with this 22-minute opus. For those who reap affect right from the surface, you will find Chaining the Katechon to be a logical subsequent chapter in the Deathspell Omega credo. This is exactly what should be referred to as the consummate definition of “progressive, technical black metal.” It is progressive in that it’s undoubtedly developed, dynamic and intensified when compared to the project’s most primordial beginnings, and it is technical in that each player performs his (or her) task with an absolute and routing skill.
When Katechon first strikes the ear, you’ll notice a wealth of elements already fully explored with the band’s previous releases, particularly from the Kenose period forward. The production is still crisp, balanced and deserving of even the fussiest of metal fans’ ears; the guitar tone remains decidedly clean and homogenous to many of the days progressive post- or death metal bands; the voice still squirms from the darkest dirt like an afflicted conquering worm; and those brutally battering, flesh rutting drums are still thankfully spotlighted from start to finish.
“Fierce” is a grave understatement when describing the EP, and the overall mood is packed with a nervous electricity that’s only allayed via a curious insistence on pushing wavy, flanged notes bent with nausea. The expansive ambient interludes of the past are mostly gone, making plenty of room for outright clobbering over an expansive portion of the 22 minutes, and when Katechon clobbers, it does so with an cruel intent that’s discordant as Hell and as violent as a barracuda cutting through prey.
“There are none so blind as those who will not see.”
The visual pieces accompanying Chaining the Katechon are righteously compelling as well. End Days, eating flesh, crashing waves and looming giants all seem par for the Apocalyptic course, and the piece presented on the back of both the CD and vinyl product that depicts two hands conjoined by consuming serpents rending the phrase “the highest sum divided” offers up a perfectly suitable “ending visual” for the prevailing ruinous mood here.
“He that toucheth pitch shall be defiled therewith.” – Ecelesiasticus
I approached this EP with a fair bit of apprehension following the slight disappointment that was Fas, but Chaining the Katechon has effectively extinguished any misgivings. I’m not sure how they continue to produce such deadly strikes with literally every one of their EPs – first “Mass Grave Aesthetics,” then “Diabolus Absconditus,” and now this – but it appears as if DsO have finally concluded a different version of a flawless trifecta. An impeccable triplicate of “short” players that are all equally necessary for any fan of truly avant-garde, progressive extreme metal. And remember, not all doors opened will lead to peaceful pastures.