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Deathspell Omega - Paracletus CD (album) cover


Deathspell Omega

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Paracletus' - Deathspell Omega (95/100)

When Deathspell Omega unleashed the third instalment of their defining "trilogy" in the second-to-last month of 2010, I honestly didn't know what to think. Though they've since become one of the most important staples in my listening diet, my experience of their works at the time was limited to a few cursory spins of Fas - Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum, an album I now consider to be the largely unrivalled pinnacle of black metal as an artform. I also knew they had once approximated the lo-fi sounds of Darkthrone at some earlier point, not that you'd be able to guess that based upon a single riff of Paracletus. It was an aggressive, overwhelmingly chaotic-- dare I say it, religious experience; this wasn't like anything was then-familiar with in metal or otherwise. Nevertheless, Paracletus shocked me as any forward-thinking masterpiece would.

It still does. Now that I know precisely how it fits in with the rest of Deathspell Omega's adventurous arc, I think I'm impressed more than ever. Arguably with nothing but the Wagnerian pomp of The Ruins of Beverast to rival it, DSO's trilogy is the most impressive testament yet achieved in black metal. Their third full-length Si Monvmentvm Requires, Circvmspice began this trilogy with a revelation for the genre, not only by its progressive amplification of musical conventions, but lyrically as well; though Satan's been no stranger to the black metal genre, seldom has He been afforded the intellectual weight Deathspell Omega invested in their lyrics, which appeared a greater part philosophical tract than musical accompaniment. By the point of Fas come 2007, their music became enlightened to the point where it seemed like there would be no way to take it further, lest the enigmatic souls behind this work dare imbalance the terrible perfection they unveiled three years prior to Paracletus... Had I known then what I know now, I would have been all the more intrigued to see how such an uncompromising cabal of musicians would tackle the insurmountable task of following up an album like Fas.

Upon reaching an artistic peak, the usual thing for bands to do is recoil their sound to some previous, safer incarnation. Bands' EPKs usually call this a "return to their roots", but you always know they're full of [&*!#]. Whether it's Yes, Blind Guardian, Metallica or a hundred-thousand other sorry cases, this transformation often results in a greater focus on melody and precision in the place of their past ambitions. In virtually every case, this is a death knell for a band's career, except in the case of Deathspell Omega. With Paracletus, not only did they follow-up on the madness of Fas without missing a beat; they infused that existing carnage with the economical precision and, yes, the melody that may have otherwise made its predecessor unpalatable. Paracletus seeks to overwhelm, puzzle, and immerse its listener as much as anything else offered in black metal. So long following its release, to call it a masterpiece feels oddly redundant. Calling it a modern classic might be more suitable; much like its predecessor, this album is one of the few metal records of the current decade that will continue to be listened to, will continue to shock and even offend listeners decades following its release.

The songs on Paracletus are much more to-the-point and spontaneous than those on Fas. Where DSO's previous album took a few minutes to get warmed up, Paracletus immediately bursts out with tech metal drumming and unsettling guitars. Within two minutes of that, they're crushing at their fullest speed. Paracletus immediately demonstrates itself as a more guitar-based effort than the band's past works. Although the song lengths suggest a more decentralized approach to albumcraft, Paracletus takes the prog-rock approach of making each track one part of a seamless whole. Although many of the songs are individually identifiable (with "Wings of Predation", "Abscission", the two "Epiklesis" segments and the post-rock rupture of closing track "Apokatastasis Pantôn" shining brightest of all), Paracletus gives off the impression of being one long, chaotic, misanthropic descent into avant-metal hell.

Even if Deathspell Omega cut back on the calculated chaos of their style, they make for it with the most memorable riffs of their career. I'm constantly taken aback every time I hear the way Hasjarl's guitar on "Wings of Predation" imparts such vicious urgency, or the way a dismally atonal melody opens up "Abscission" in contrast with the brushfire drumming. Atop all this, the vocals (now more multi-lingual than ever) are crushingly incorporated into the mix. Whether DSO are singing in English, Latin, or French (Spica of their splitmates S.V.E.S.T helps out with that last part) the lyrics are a biting, intellectual mockery of Christian orthodoxy. Contrast that with the glorification of Satan they espoused on the first two albums-- with the third chapter of their trilogy, Deathspell Omega have gone on the offensive with their lyrics. 'Tis not enough for them to uphold their own beliefs, it seems; they must prove the folly in others. I have personally found myself fascinated in DSO's lyrical content, and Paracletus is no exception. Considering how tired Satanic imagery in black metal should feel, it is wholly refreshing that Deathspell Omega manage to inject a rare seriousness into the subject matter.

The album isn't perfect. "Have You Beheld the Fevers?" always seemed a little too straightforward for the rest of the album, as if they were trying to fulfill the role "Drink The Devil's Blood" played in their work two albums past. In spite of the thickness of its groove, "Dearth" feels less engaging in light of the three furies that erupted before it. Paracletus may not have achieved the outright perfection of Fas - Ite, Maledicti in Ignem Aeternum a second time around, but it would be folly to think of their trilogy's closing statement as anything short of a masterwork. As once a neophyte, and now a well-fevered fan of most of their work, Paracletus has lost none of its ability to amaze and immerse. The question remains, of course, whether DSO will return to follow-up on the astounding testament of this trilogy now that it's over. It's been almost five years since this album came out, and my fingers remain crossed.

Report this review (#312369)
Posted Wednesday, November 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This album of French black metal band Deathspell Omega didn't surprise me too much.Being almost a cult black metal band on their early releases, some last years band plays more different music.

For everyone not familiar with DO sound I would like to mention fast noise metal, growling vocals, some black metal atmosphere and quite complex compositions' rhythm structures. Interesting, sound even being destructive,is quite ambient,almost polished. Production are far from good though (what is not a big problem in the metal world, but is a big minus for prog fans I believe). There even are some traces of melodies on some compositions, but in all this is a brutal radical metal album,mostly interesting for such sub-genre fans.

To be honest, I was surprised when found this band added on PA. Looking retrospectively, they are not too much different from Burzum or Emperor, the bands which are respected black metal units, but hardly have any relations with progressive rock at all. Possibly, the formal reason for DO inclusion on progressive music site was some avant-metal elements in their music. For me such reason sounds quite controversial, but I am far not specialist in metal prog.

The only thing I need to add - this album possibly is one between some most radical metal albums on PA, so if you're not a heavy fan of such music, better avoid it.

Kind of average album for radical metal fans, this release sounds too much out of place on progressive site for me.My rating is 2+.

Report this review (#341542)
Posted Friday, December 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Devouring Famine

Released three years after their highly acclaimed Fas - Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum, French avant-black metal band Deathpell Omega returns with another competent album, Paracletus. Although the band doesn't play a style of music that I can call myself a fan of, fans of experimental, noisy, and dark technical black metal will really enjoy this one. As for myself, I honestly only enjoy Paracletus in small bursts. This album seldom has melody and is mainly focused on enough dissonance and speed to make your head explode. For some people, this extremely difficult and challenging music may be a good thing. I'd much rather put on a less experimental black metal album, but the quality here is unquestionable. Although Paracletus is a very hard album to sit through for someone who isn't a huge fan of avant garde music, the album's inaccessibility is what will make it so great for some people. This isn't for the faint of heart at all, but anyone who's looking for very challenging music will definitely enjoy Paracletus.

The music on Paracletus is a cross between old school black metal, avant-metal, and noise rock. The insane blast beats, low-fi production, and vocal styles all hint towards black metal, though the album is clearly very experimental in attitude. The songs are mainly built off of speeding blast beats, dissonant chords, and shrieking vocals. There are occasionally some more melodic parts, but keep in mind that most of Paracletus is extremely heavy and technical. The level of musicianship in Deathspell Omega is unquestionable, and ultimately the best thing about the band. The guitar playing and drumming are the most notable, considering this album is filled to the brim with complex drum patterns and fast guitar riffing. The compositions get quite monotonous at times, but the level of musicianship often makes up for it.

The production is very lo-fi, so you can take that as you will. For black metal fans, that's probably a good thing, but for some people that may be a detriment. I personally think the unpolished production style adds to the atmosphere of the album, despite the setbacks that it creates in terms of bass audibility and the sound of the drums. There are quite a few times on this album where the drums just sound plain awful, and it's a bit of a shame. The sound is an acquired taste, though, and I could understand black metal fans thinking this sounds great.


Paracletus is a good, sometimes even great, album by Deathspell Omega. I can see fans of avant-garde and twisted black metal really liking this one. Unfortunately, when it boils down to my own personal taste, I'm not nearly enough of an experimental black metal fan to completely grasp this one. As it stands, this is worth 3 stars for the appeal it will have for its intended audience. I would approach this one with caution for anyone who isn't already a fan of Deathspell Omega, however.

Report this review (#342628)
Posted Saturday, December 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars 3.54 stars? D: I figured this would be waaaaay up on the list of tech/extreme prog bands on this site. This album is .... fantastic..... I was introduced to Deathspell Omega by this album. I was totally blown away and looked at their other releases (which are also phenomenal). This band is far, far more interesting sounding that Opeth, Devin Townsend, or Atheist. Deathspell Omega uses extremely uncommon chord structures and harmonic functions that are absoultely gorgeous. Unexpected rhythmic patterns. There's variety. The drumming is ALWAYS interesting. Most of the songs evoke a different atmosphere than the next. The lyrical content is extremely interesting, I mean if you're into mysticism/the occult. Of course the lyrics are basically always screamed and that needs some getting used to for someone not used to the screaming type of music, like me.

This group has more in common with King Crimson and Mahavishnu Orchestra than anyone else.

Report this review (#391024)
Posted Monday, January 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars The band Deathspell Omega has gained a certain cult status in the black metal "community". With their unknown members (as far as we know) and their tendency to not tour has created something that is in mystery to the general public. Although we do not know much about them, what we do know is that they are a force to be reckoned with in modern metal. Combining avant garde, experimental, and bombastic melodies, it has created something that inundates the listener with their utter most darkest fears, and horrors. That being said, it also creates something of beauty, not just in the context of pure aggression. But of what we have to face. Thus, this all accumulates to a masterpiece of modern music. Paracletus should be what bands strive for in terms of how they end a "trilogy". As you look at the cover you see something of just chaos-a pure black background with snakes and fire. This demonstrates a couple things. One: it establishes what you're going to be listening to for the next forty three minutes, cathartic almost maudlin musicianship. Secondly, it gives you the sense that this isn't going to be a "walk in the park", but this is going to be pure anarchy to your ears. Lastly, it gives you a sense of dread. And what do all of these things have in common? They all deal with what we run away from-death, darkness, and chaos. The production quality can be best described as, superb. It's like you're being thrown in their hell. You can here every blast beat, hellish scream, and just an atmospheric cacophonous experience. That said, it's controlled chaos. Which is the most amazing part of this release, due to the amount of complexity, and originality. Lyrically, this was the most shocking aspect of the album. I say that because when you listen to people (in general) who speak of "black metal" they usually come to a conclusion that it's just pure screams and loud distorted guitars. But, it is much deeper than what you really view it as. I can not think of any other band that can combine English and Latin together with some French. This is still the strongest "aspect" to this album. Conclusion: Although this is a tough band to listen to at first (which is the only gripe I can think of), it'll grow on you. On the other hand, if you're not familiar with this band or the style of music, you'll just hate it at first. But, don't give up on it based off of that barrier-chaotic hell. This is not just a metal release, it's also "progressive" and experimental. Have an open mind when approaching this. It's an epic 43 minutes that will shock, move, and make you think at times.
Report this review (#425316)
Posted Thursday, March 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Imagine a black metal band hijacked an orchestra's tour bus and forced the musicians to play whilst they were driving over a bridge - that's the sort of dense, multilayered cacophony which greets the listener when you put on Deathspell Omega's Paracletus. Using a wide range of instrumentation, careful production and the techniques of genres ranging from post-rock to noise rock as well as their avant-black metal roots, the band create something which at first listen sounds like typical black metal chaos, before you realise that in fact it's a richer, denser mass than first appears. There's always a bit more going on with Deathspell Omega than meets the eye, and nowhere is that more true than on Paracletus, though I found the album was diminished on subsequent listens because it feels a little like they are throwing lots of ingredients into the pot to cover for the fact that they don't truly excel at any one thing but are quite good at pastiching lots of things.
Report this review (#1056515)
Posted Tuesday, October 8, 2013 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars Completing the third installment of the Satanic metaphysical trilogy that shocked the world with black metal being taken to unthinkable technical complexities with themes that focused on the highly advanced Satanic theology inspired by the philosophies of George Bataille, Michel Leiris and Pierre Klossowski, the French black metal band DEATHSPELL OMEGA released PARACETUS which is the Latinized form of the Greek world παράκλητος (parákletos), meaning "comforter," and synonymous for the Holy Spirit. Released in 2010 after a couple of EPs and a split, PARACLETUS served as a recording that resolves the band's three act magnum opus that made 90s black metal look like schoolchildren.

As anonymous and mysterious as ever DOS ended the trilogy with a collection of ten tracks that are more tightly constructed and really does have a feel of conclusion as if PARACLETUS is the final act where the resolving battle and judgment allow the dark forces' reign comes to fruition. It wasn't until i finally heard this third episode of DEATHSPELL OMEGA's Satanic saga that it occurred to me that the trilogy really runs together, musically as well as thematically, as a single cohesive unit where each album resonates as an entire act of a much larger black opera for the lack of a better term. Following 2004's "Si monvmentvm reqvires, circvmspice" and 2007's "Fas - Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum," the latter of which introduced bizarre new dynamics that included dramatic pauses and stylistic shifts, where the final track "Obombration" essentially served as a two minute symphonic intermission designed to be followed.

That's where PARACLETUS comes in as it eschews the subtle atmospheric swirls of "Fas - Ite" and instead jumps into the bombastic caustic and atonal jangle chord swarms of din of "Epiklesis." The album overall is a much heavier and rampaging one with less moments of downtime in the form of slower creeping, almost doom metal in its processional prowl. Like the band's previous album's DEATHSPELL OMEGA doesn't employ many new tactics on PARACLETUS as all had been established therefore this third installment of the trilogy comes off as less impacting as the shock value had been exhausted and the main focus is on the highly advanced compositions that tackle the complexities of progressive rock and 20th century classical music in black metal regalia.

Generally speaking the beginning and end of the album are heavier with rampaging stampedes of sound while the mid-section around "Phosphene" offer those cooling off periods with slower, less complex and more introspective ones often with choral chanting replacing the snarling raspy shrieks of Mikko Aspa's effective vocal approach. The atonal jangle guitars appear in abundance as the tale of the virtues of advanced Satanism employ the multitude of stylistic shifts that DEATHSPELL OMEGA has mastered with nary a misstep in execution. While less depend on symphonic accoutrements, there are moments as in "Epiklesis II" where a parallel sound effect accompanies the jangle guitars but tracks like "Malconfort" with faster tempos and caustic sonic assaults are more the norm on PARACLETUS.

While excellently performed as usual it surprises me that PARACLETUS remains the most popular DEATHSPELL OMEGA release in some circles which perhaps is the result in that it's a bit more accessible than its predecessors but is less effective for that otherworldly experience that the perfection of "Fas - Ite" delivered. For that reason PARACLETUS is my least favorite of the Satanic metaphysical trilogy of albums as it's a bit more predictable and doesn't really offer anything new to the DSO sound and rather relies on simply changing things around a bit. Despite the connective tissue that clearly links it with previous material, make no doubt about it that PARACLETUS is still worthy of concluding what many deem as black metal's most effective multi-album run. For those who prefer the most bombastic of the trilogy, this one probably wins but i personally prefer the greater spectrum of stylistic shifts that "Si Monvmtvm" and "Fas - Ite" offered.

Report this review (#2488326)
Posted Monday, December 28, 2020 | Review Permalink

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