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Deathspell Omega - Infernal Battles CD (album) cover


Deathspell Omega

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Infernal Battles is the debut studio album from French experimental/ avant garde black metal act DeathSpell Omega. Or should I say half studio album because out of the eight tracks that this album consists of the last four are taken directly from the Disciples of the Ultimate Void (1999) demo tape. They are unedited and appear on Infernal Battles just like they did on the demo. This of course means that you´ll only get four new songs if you already have the demo. It´s not that likely though as the Disciples of the Ultimate Void demo was only released in 66 copies. So I guess it´s a good way to become familiar with the demo tracks as well. Infernal Battles was initially only released on LP limited to 200 hand-numbered copies but has since then ( in 2003) been re-released by the Northern Heritage label on CD.

The music is simple old school black metal with aggressive raspy vocals. The songs don´t differ much from each other but the general quality in the compositions is pretty high for the genre. The album does come of as a bit of a low-fi product though (and probably on purpose as it is custom for many bands in the genre) as the sound quality differs greatly from the first four tracks to the last four demo tracks. The first four tracks has a pretty good sound quality even though the sound changes even between these four tracks. The last four tracks sound like a bad live bootleg recording done in a rehearsal room somewhere. A re-recording of those four tracks with a better sound quality would have done a lot for my overall view on Infernal Battles.

The musicianship is very good. This is not your no good pimpled teenage act who has painted themselves with corpsepaint, lit a lot of candles, collected some skulls and painted a pentragram on the wall of their rehearsal room. These guys can actually play.

The style of music that DeathSpell Omega play on Infernal Battles is not a style of music that I normally enjoy much and I can´t say that this album changes my view on that. On top of my personal feelings for the music there´s also the fact that this is a very incoherent album in terms of sound quality and those two elements together means that this is a 2 star album. Only recommended to fans of old school black metal.

Report this review (#200589)
Posted Sunday, January 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
2 stars 'Infernal Battles' - Deathspell Omega (3/10)

The debut of this now legendary black metal act, Deathspell Omega has certainly come a long way from this. In more recent years, they have made some of the most haunting, challenging black metal ever made. Even on their second record 'Inquisitors Of Satan', Deathspell was playing an old school brand of black metal with some considerable proficiency. 'Infernal Battles' opens the band's career on a somewhat bleak note, and I do not mean that in a good way. Although nothing out of the ordinary for straightforward black metal, this is a very amateurish, poor sounding release, with inconsistent production, performance, and unremarkable songwriting. Although it certainly has its merits to it still, this is the only album in Deathspell Omega's catalog that I might label as 'bad'.

Musically speaking, 'Infernal Battles' is fairly average black metal, in the vein of bands like Mayhem. Of course, Deathspell Omega is coming a clean decade after those Norwegian heavyweights, so I cannot say much of the band in terms of innovation at this point. The music is filled with evil sounding chord progressions, tinny drums, and raspy vocals that sound garbled as hell, thanks to the low budget recording that the album has. Making the production worse is the fact that tracks 5-8 are actually the band's demo, 'Disciples Of The Ultimate Void'. Not a re-recording for the album, but an outright copy-and-paste of the demo onto here. The songwriting- which is very decent, although predictable- does not compensate for the total lack of tact the album has. Even at its best, 'Infernal Battles' still sounds like a garage production, but hearing it fluctuate so much makes for a pretty weak experience..

One positive thing I can mention about Deathspell Omega at this point is that even early on, they were very good musicians. This is an inherently untechnical sort of music that the band is playing, but they play it with a great intensity, and unlike many demos of this style that I have heard, there aren't slip-ups in the playing. Although this may be considered a full- length, it really does not feel as if Deathspell Omega's legitimate journey starts until the second album. This is generic, mediocre black metal with abysmal production values. Even so, it's a somewhat worthy venture for hardcore fans of the band, if only to see how much the band has progressed since their origin.

Report this review (#554244)
Posted Friday, October 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
2 stars INFERNAL BATTLES is the first full release by DEATHSPELL OMEGA, well sort of. The fact is that the last four tracks are actually those from the previous demo release "Disciples Of The Ultimate Void." Not even re-recorded but merely available on CD. The first four tracks are new but I would probably deem this to be classified as an EP. At this early stage the band was far from its experimental and progressive brilliance that fully developed a few short years later. On this album we hear an anachronistic old school black metal sound that is almost a decade too late. While the demo tracks are extremely lo-fi in the vein of Darkthrone with Summoning screams and wails, the new tracks are clearly better produced and sound more like an early Darkthrone album both instrumentally and vocally and although they are still dirty filthy black metal it at least it doesn't sound like it was recorded in someone's garage.

I'm really not sure why a band that obviously plays so very well musically would offer up so little in the terms of creativity. Are they showing us here what their intents are for the future? That meaning they wish to capture the spirit of the early Satanic black metal from the past by offering this lo-fi by the numbers offering only to dazzle us with a huge leap in a short time later? Who knows but I have to say this is not a bad album. If this HAD come out 10 years prior it would be well respected. While there is nothing on this album that would interest non-harcore fans of aggressive and highly distorted old school black metal, it is true that if that is a style you really, really love then this release is something you will probably find appealing, however.... this really is derivative to the point that they should have just called themselves "Darkclone."

Report this review (#1316797)
Posted Friday, November 28, 2014 | Review Permalink

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