Deathspell Omega

The Synarchy of Molten Bones

Synarchy in the EU
dB rating: 8/10

Release Date: November 8, 2016
Label: Norma Evangelium Diabol

For the most part, any progressive, technical, avant-garde or various-adjective black metal band composes via zig-zag. One instant it sounds like old Mayhem, the next it’s trip-hop, or jazz or ’60s folk, and then back again. Deathspell Omega, on the other hand, are serpentine. And I’m sure they love that about themselves. The anonymous French outfit revel in their own technical acumen and intricate sonic palate more than ever on their latest half-hour song collection, The Synarchy of Molten Bones.

By serpentine I mean they perform the same graceful trick with innumerable points of articulation. Their peers jump genre, but Deathspell contort “black metal” until its definitions seem as arbitrary as they actually are. Minus a few choirs and brass sections, the Frenchmen just layer one clean guitar loop over distorted riffs topped with high speed bass arpeggios and multiple drum lines. The devils lie in their liberal modulations; they play the same four chords five, maybe 10 different ways in one song. The rolling barrage of blast beats and snare fills that opens and closes “Famished for Breath” supports vicious guitar stabs and also plaintive, melodic figures.

They pulled the same stunts over the course of their previous full-length, Paracletus, in 2010. Each song on Synarchy functions like that album in miniature, except with maybe more chaos-per-minute. Deathspell perform at their peak in the brooding 10 minutes of “Onward Where Most with Ravin I May Meet.” The song’s rapid glide from simplicity to incoherence both summarizes every complex maneuver the band has developed since 2004, and serves as a reminder: None of their imitators has ever mastered one of their subtleties.

— Joseph Schafer

This review taken from the February 2017 issue. The Synarchy of Molten Bones is available on vinyl from Norma Evangelium Diaboli.

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