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Deathspell Omega - Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice CD (album) cover


Deathspell Omega

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice is the third full-length studio album by French experimental black metal act Deathspell Omega ( not counting the two split albums with Moonblood and Clandestine Blaze). The album has both been released on CD ( Not all earlier releases from the band has seen a release on CD) and Double gatefold LP with a poster. The double gatefold LP version has since been re-released in 2007. I´ve found every release from the band up until this one to be trivial old school black metal releases but with Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice the band really begin to show their potential.

The 11:44 minute long Carnal Malefactor is a good example of how interesting Deathspell Omega can actually sound with its a Capella Gregorian middle section and generally slow pace. Most songs are played in a fast pace though and the basis in the music is still old school black metal. This time around the band has just added more experimental elements and greater variation to their songs. The three Prayer songs are good examples of this new and more varied experimental black metal style.

The vocals are raspy but pretty monotone IMO and it does become a bit of a problem the longer I get into this 77:39 minute long album ( which by the way is a couple of songs too long if you ask me). New singer Mikko Aspa ( Clandestine Blaze, Fleshpress, Morbid Savouring, Stabat Mater, A.M., D.O.M., Creamface, Noise Waste, Grunt, Clinic of Torture, Alchemy of the 20th Century, Nicole 12, Nihilist Commando, Pain Nail), who has replaced original vocalist/ drummer Shaxul in the lineup, does not vary his vocal style enough on the album. I like raspy/ growling vocals to reflect either pain, anger, aggression or melancholy but with these vocals I´m not really moved. It´s an aquired taste for sure though and others might really enjoy his approach to singing. The thing I enjoy the most on the album is the many times inventive guitar riffs from band leader Hasjarl which are the foundation of the compositions on the album.

The musicianship is generally of high quality but I must admit that I´m not too fond of the drumming style. The drums are pretty simple and I think the music would have benefitted from a more technical approach.

The production is the first professional production that Deathspell Omega has had on any of their releases up until then and it sounds really good. I have been complaining about the raw, low-fi and primitive productions on their earlier releases but this time the band has decided to put out a profesional product and it´s hard not to be happy about the sound on this album.

Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice is a great experimental black metal album, but the above mentioned flaws ( too long playing time, monotone vocals and simple drumming) does drag my rating down from a 4 to a 3.5 star rating. I might upgrade it in time though if I learn to appreciate the above mentioned issues a bit more. I´ll surely be giving the album lots of spins in the future to find out.

Report this review (#212649)
Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Si Monvmentvm Requires, Circvmspice' - Deathspell Omega (81/100)

It is dangerously easy to underrate how important Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice was for black metal in 2004. Not only did Deathspell Omega launch their sound thirteen miles deeper into avant-garde obscurantism with their subsequent masterpieces Fas - Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum and Paracletus; the decade since has been replete with halfhearted imitators, wishing to glimpse into the same well of truth and horror that impelled the mysterious French collective to such ambitious lengths. If Si Monumentum sounds any less groundbreaking, it is only in light of the mind-ripping works DSO would achieve hereafter. In a broad sense, the album may be seen as a bridge between the post-Second Wave stylistic confusion of black metal at the turn of the millennium, and the ubiquitous composer-provocateurs that define the genre today.

Even beyond the works it has inspired, Si Monumentum stands as a proud, albeit bloated monument unto itself. Multiple interlude tracks, sophisticated compositions, schizoid dissonance and even an extended trip into Gregorian choral music with "Carnal Malefactor" all lend themselves to an influence from progressive rock. While bands like Enslaved and Emperor had incorporated a prog influence into their work before, Deathspell Omega went a step further, cutting through the progressive tropes and distilling them to their source. Outside Si Monumentum's burstfire amping of black metal conventions, there's a broad sense of Western classical music (itself the grandfather of progressive rock and metal), filtered through such smoke and mirrors that you may not hear the classical influences overtly in all but the most prominent cases. What ultimately results from this stylistic alchemy of European musical tradition, however, is a sense of incredibly serious religiosity.

That relative 'seriousness' is Si Monumentum's great gift to black metal. That's not to say that the First and Second Wavers weren't potentially just as sincere about their malevolent inclinations, but fairly often those occult or negative feelings were channelled with a vulgar, even adolescent grasp of their subject matter. Satan hailing, goat-fukking mad libs don't mince words when it comes to espousing their respective bands ideologies, but the lyrics themselves are often easy to toss out on an intellectual basis. Compare that to what DSO decided to do with Si Monumentum. The album's lyrics strike me as an intellectually-backed dive into orthodox Satanism, devised in the mirror image of Catholic liturgy. Perhaps moreso than the album's musical innovations, Si Monumentum is set most apart by DSO's supreme navigation of their genre's central ideology. Retreats into Latin and erudite English (vocalised aggressively here by Finnish deviant Mikko Aspa) give the rich impression of facing Christian orthodoxy on its own playing field. The two albums since that have rounded out the band's trilogy have collectively manifested as the most in-depth exploration of Satan I've ever found in metal.

The three 'prayers' on Si Monumentum serve as atmospheric interludes to space out the album; I actually think they've turned out as some of the album's greatest offerings. "First Prayer" sounds perfectly dismal, like the opening notes of a Black Mass, complete with sampled choral voices. These choral voices (now virtually orthodox BM cliche) appear throughout the album, counterpointing the band's bass-heavy aggression in "Third Prayer", culminating in a gorgeous minutes-long a capella in the centre of "Carnal Malefactor". Deathspell Omega showcase a Gregorian choir with none but a ticking bass tone to remind the listener they're still listening to something off the beaten path. Other, more melodic sections of the album ring memorably, including the psychedelic fear of "Second Prayer", and the band's plodding affirmation to Satan at the end of "Jvbilate Dea".

Musically, Si Monumentum is defined by a collection of incredible, almost-perfect moments. Deathspell Omega's more traditionally-bound black metal exploits are still puzzled with technical, buzzing guitars and Aspa's exceptionally demoniacal vocal display, but the album nonetheless seems to pack on too much material that didn't necessarily need be included. Given that none of the material is weak so much as samey, it is difficult to point out any one or two tracks as being lesser than the rest, although "Blessed Are the Dead Whiche Dye in the Lorde", "Hétoďmasia, and "Odium Nostrum" seemed curiously void of their own 'immortal' passages.

Therefore, if Si Monumentum is not a masterpiece (and I don't believe it is), it is not for lack of skill or vision. A run-time nearing an hour and a half is unwieldy by virtually every band's standard, possibly doubly so in consideration of the band's heady intensity. Going overboard with their ambitions is ample indication of a band that only recently tapped into their purest creative self. Such is the case for DSO a decade ago. The years since have proven how far Si Monumentum was from actually delivering upon the extent of this band's power; 2007's Fas's jazz inflections and calculated madness would make it one of the greatest black metal albums of all time, and Paracletus' slightly more melodic rendering of its predecessor only led to good things. Though Deathspell Omega's third album is since dwarfed (if not in length, then certainly in stylistic aptitude) by the albums since, it was certainly the greatest step forward in the band's career.

Report this review (#553880)
Posted Thursday, October 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Up to this point, Deathspell Omega's approach to black metal had seen them adopt a no-nonsense back-to-basics approach reminiscent of innumerable other Darkthrone imitators. Here, though, some dark inspiration seems to have got into them, and their experiments with incorporating more unconventional elements into their music commence. Si Momentum Requires, Circumspice fuses the avant-black metal of subsequent Deathspell Omega releases with more direct and overt black metal eruptions, reminiscent of Marduk or Satyricon, so those who are only interested in the progressive side of their music may be better catered to by their later albums. For my part, their sound here is interesting but somewhat overbearing, and in a "this is grinding on a little tediously" sort of way and not a "this is amazingly over the top" way.
Report this review (#1018519)
Posted Wednesday, August 14, 2013 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars The term "black metal" was simply born as a title of the 1982 Venom album who was one of metal's first bands to venture into a more ambitious extreme new world but like Rosemary's baby was just a mere sprout that morbid and fertile imaginations would transmogrify into the harsh and ugly wave of extreme metal that began in Scandinavia. While bands like Hellhammer and Celtic Frost nurtured this evil spawn through the toddler years, it was a fast learner and soon the Swedish band Bathory would unleash the first true black metal with its trademark fast tempos, shrieking vocals, heavily distorted buzzsaw guitars and tremolo picking. Originally the style began as more as a Pagan based rebellion against religious intolerance but soon it would attract a second wave of followers who would take it to absolute extremes.

Once the floodgates were opened, a whole legion of imitators followed and this extreme form of metal splintered into myriad directions. Atmospheric with ambient keyboard use, industrial black, war black, Viking, blackgaze and even hybrids with death metal and many other non-metal genres. The great evolutionary diversification splintered with subject matter ranging from hostile misanthropy, anti-Christian sentiments, Pagan folklore, romantic Gothic tales and depressive hopelessness. While bands like Mayhem, Darkthrone, Satyricon, Emperor and Gorgoroth frightened the masses with their cacophonous din with some even having burned down a few churches in their wake, these face painted miscreants were more focused on adolescent angst and shocking appearances as the rebellious antithesis of Christianity rather than delving into the philosophical theology of true Satanism.

DEATHSPELL OMEGA were a part of this legion of imitators with two albums that sounded like countless others based in the second wave of black metal with their second album "Inquisitors Of Satan" sounding like it easily could've been slipped into the Darkthrone canon and no one would've thought twice about it. As if Satan himself had selected this mysterious and anonymous French ensemble, the band emerged from a rather generic epigone to one of the most experimental and intellectually developed outfits within the entire black metal universe. On their third album SI MONVMENTVM REQVIRES, CIRCVMSPICE (Latin for "If You Seek His Monument, Look Around You,) DEATHSPELL OMEGA launched the first of a trilogy of albums that focused on the Theistic Satanist's perspective and one that ostentated that Satan is pervading every aspect of the physical and metaphysical universe and that Man's relationship with Him should be one of reverence and devotion.

While lyrically entranced in Satanic metaphysics in a liturgical presentation, stylistically the works are heavily influenced by the 20th century French philosopher Georges Bataille. Musically DOS evolved significantly beyond the second wave tritone dissonance into a sophisticated progressive black metal band that utilized wide varieties of stylistic shifts interspersed with unpredictable time signature changes and even incorporated complete deviations from metal altogether into Gregorian chants that take references from the Christian Bible and fully invert them as heard on the beginning "First Prayer" that finds backmasking wrapped around the liturgical sermon. The album, like true Satanic ideologies, is rife with symbolism both visually in the album cover and liner notes but also with the juxtaposition of Christian philosophies with dark arts metaphysics. This is the real deal. A musical experience so dark and heavy that it makes Anton LaVey's Church Of Satan look like a skit with the Church Lady on 80s Saturday Night Live.

SI MONVMENTVM REQVIRES, CIRCVMSPICE is a very long album. At 77 minutes and 47 seconds it was intentionally designed to mimic the structure of progressive rock double albums from the 70s with each fictitious side opening with a prayer with an additional lengthy devotion occurring with the eleven minute plus "Carnal Malefactor." While the album doesn't let up in its intensity for one second, the diverse elements that flow through manage to keep even the most attention span deprived metalhead from bouts of ennui. While segments flow and find repetitive segments of structure, the band's approach is to change the instrumentation subtlety and also at time startlingly abrupt, by offering up new riffs, new drumming patterns or vocal rants. At times the band plays together as a cohesive unit in traditional black metal fashion but more often offers up the most avant-garde and mind bending displays of angular dissonance and progressive bombast. The overall impression of this album is that of a black mass from a fly on the wall perspective.

DEATHSPELL OMEGA took the entire metal world by storm with SI MONVMENTVM REQVIRES, CIRCVMSPICE, having created one of the most thought provoking and musically mysterious metal albums of the ages. This is the kind of blackened art album with the sophistication of great classical composers with every composition, production value and lyrical utterance casting a darkened cloud over the world and twisted into an unholy irreverence in an antithetically aligned manner that goes far beyond a flaming vitriol for Christianity but rather ups the game to become its equal. While DEATHSPELL OMEGA could be viewed as a pseudo-intellectual cauldron of mumbo jumbo, there is no denying that their craft has mastered the art of Christian inversion to its logical conclusion and utilized its own contradictory Biblical passages against it with a thoughtful and peremptory authority. While cleverly presented, DEATHSPELL OMEGA, the newfound masters of the great Satanic theological soundtracks hadn't quite attained perfection as it would on the follow-up "Fas ? Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum," but it's pretty damn close.

4.5 but rounded down

Report this review (#1951758)
Posted Monday, July 23, 2018 | Review Permalink

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