'Fas - Ite, Maledicti, In Ignem Aeturnum' - Deathspell Omega (10/10)
Every once in a while, I come across an album that really evokes a feeling. By that, I do not mean mere pleasant cheer or a complacent melancholy, but an album that really sticks with me, that is impossible to let go of, no matter how much I may want to thrust it out of my mind. Such is the way that Deathspell Omega's fourth album 'Fas - Ite, Maledicti, In Ignem Aeturnum' has affected me. Over the course of the past few weeks, this mysterious French black metal band and their music here has haunted me beyond anything I have listened to in recent times. As malefic as they have ever been, Deathspell Omega finds their defining achievement with 'Fas', and without a doubt in my mind, it is an album that even the casual fan of dark or black metal must listen to.
On first listen, there's no denying that the sound is a lot to take in. 'Calculated madness' may be the best way to describe a great deal of the music here; viciously frenetic and schzoid guitar riffs race by under a fury of blastbeats as I've never heard before. To space the madness out are lighter sections, but Deathspell Omega manages to make these sections challenging as well. Even in the quietest ambient soundscapes 'Fas' has to offer, a listener can hear a wide array of different things going on. Be it dissonant pattering in the background or eerie choral arrangements, many of the details here are so well-hidden that some things here may not even reveal themselves until after dozens and dozens of listens. With that in mind, 'Fas' remains an album that keeps fresh even after many listens have passed.
Although the rampant dissonance here will likely come across as noise for many upon first listen, there is the sense here that everything is intentional and made to coalesce as one. There are plenty of atonal harmonies here, but it would be foolish to think that this was without a very clear purpose; to create an atmosphere. While black metal is generally known for both its eerie atmosphere and inherent rawness, Deathspell takes that sense of darkness and conveys it through razor sharp proficiency and tact. On top of the music are some incredibly well-written and evocative lyrics, spoken both in Latin and English. Much black metal comes off as cheesy in their attempt to sound evil, but the feeling I get when listening to this album feels almost as if I've taken a trip with Dante down to the utmost levels of the underworld.
Needless to say, this is one of the scariest, and oddly beautiful pieces of work that has ever been crafted in the metal genre. The album is highly complex and challenging, but should a listener pursue it deeply, the rewards will be ones which will stick for a lifetime.