Constantly defying expectations and obscuring the lines between numerous subgenres of extreme metal, France’s Deathspell Omega are without a doubt one of the most consistently exciting and forward-thinking acts in the modern black metal landscape. Though their approach to songwriting and meticulous structuring of riffs has almost nothing in common with the classic acts of the second wave, DSO are one of the only bands on earth today that truly know how to conjure up the same feelings of dread, horror and hopelessness that acts like Mayhem and Bathory did in decades gone by. They’ve been relatively quiet over the past few years and are only back with half an hour of music, but The Synarchy of Molten Bones is one of the most streamlined and focused aural assaults the band has ever brought to the table.
In a lot of ways, The Synarchy of Molten Bones combines the angular and rabid technicality of Paracletus with the experimental tinges of their previous offering, 2012’s Drought, albeit with less ambient flourishes. With only four tracks and thirty minutes of material, this album is a positively suffocating experience that jams in as many ideas as the latest Ulcerate album, only in half the time. That’s not to suggest that this record is just a mish-mash of the band’s craziest riffs they’ve been building on for the past four years, every single song is meticulously crafted and shows an incredible sense of tension, flow, and technical acumen. As if they weren’t already regarded the world over as one of extreme metal’s best acts of the past ten years, tracks like “Famished for Breath” and “Internecine Iatrogenesis” are some of the band’s finest works to date. DSO know exactly when to shroud themselves in atmosphere, kick up the dissonance to mach-5 or start blasting like their lives depend on it.
What this record may lack in innovation, it more than makes up for in technicality and sheer rage. This album boasts some of the most dizzying, avant-garde tinged black metal you’ll be likely to hear for the next few years and most of this material will probably fly over the heads of even the most studied of metal fans. Picture the swirling cacophony of the final minutes of Gorguts’ Pleiades’ Dust thrown into a meatgrinder with some early Blut Aus Nord and Baring Teeth riffs, and you’ve got more or less a basic idea of what’s to be expected here. Garnish this terrifying blend of black/death metal with reverb-tinged shrieks galore, tortured screams that seem to come from miles away, and a completely claustrophobic mix, and you’ve got the makings of one of the heaviest albums of the year. It doesn’t hurt that the album’s third and longest track, “Onward where most with Ravin I may meet,” even packs in a few headbang-worthy grooves to completely seal the deal.
Like damn near every other wretched sonic offering Deathspell has yet to offer us, this is a record that will take at least four or five dedicated and focused listening sessions to truly discern what’s truly being delivered here. That being said, The Synarchy of Molten Bones is an incredibly rewarding album that shows a band who truly understands their potential as well as their limits when it comes to delivering a record that doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s better to press repeat than it is to press pause, and bless Deathspell Omega for that. This is not an album to be missed for fans of all things truly twisted, angular, and abysmal.
The Synarchy of Molten Bones is out November 8 through Season of Mist (North America) and Norma Evangelium Diaboli (Europe). Regardless of your location, use the internet to grab it right here.