debuted in the vein of Scandinavian black metal of the 1990s (growls, blastbeats)
on Infernal Battles (2000) and Inquisitors Of Satan (2002), but
Si Monvmentvm Reqvires Circvmspice (2004) and the mini-album Kenose (2005) opted for a new format: midtempo songs that were both hypnotic and brainy at the same time, and full of idiosyncratic stylistic detours.
Kenose is a three-movement symphony of horror. The first movement
begins and ends very slow and dejected, and its middle section is more noise
than blast. The second movement packs so much visceral fury that it seems
in danger of derailing at any moment. The third movement channels that
brutality into a more melodic and emotional structure, and then slows it down
to a limping crawl.
Si Monvmentvm is an exoteric mass that
opens with the magniloquent repetitive riffs and martial drums (and later only
a monks' choir) of First Prayer. Blastbeats, growls and panzer guitars
fuel the conventional black metal of Sola Fide I but the eight-minute
Sola Fide II displays more melody in the riffs and less manic frenzy
in the drumming.
Second Prayer is another progressive piece with tribal drums, looping
riffs and electronic melody that decay into a nightmare of frantic drumming
and confused voices.
The pattern repeats itself: the prayer is followed by a blastbeat-fueled
Blessed Are The Dead Whiche Dye In The Lorde, and by the melodic
lulling agony of Hetoimasia (a peak of horror).
After the Third Prayer comes the supersonic and slick
Si Monvmentvm Reqvires Circvmspice (the best piece in the black-metal
vein). The symmetry ends here because the rest is all high-speed ferocity,
with a new emotional peak in Jvbilate Deo (that slows down to a crawl).
The eleven-minute Carnal Malefactor ranges from fast metal to slow metal
to a-cappella choir to superfast.
The slow doom-like Malign Paradigm closes the album by disappearing in
a cloud of electronics.
The jarring and aggressive Fas - Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum (2007) marked a partial return to their roots, but most of the time it seemed to be
brainy for the sake of being brainy.
Manifestations 2000-2001 (Northern Heritage, 2008) compiles rarities while
Manifestations 2002 (Northern Heritage, 2008) compiles unreleased tracks.
The 22-minute composition of the EP Veritas Diaboli Manet In Aeternum: Chaining The Kacheton (Norma Evangelium Diaboli, 2008),
Chaining The Katechon, represented
another peak of their cerebral black metal with its
discordant guitars, tempo shifts, viscous quasi-blues angst, chaotic surges
of rhythm, etc. It sounded like
Jesus Lizard gone metal.
Concluding the trilogy of Si Monumentum... and Fas...,
Deathspell Omega all but abandoned black metal on
Paracletus (Season of Mist, 2010), their poppiest collection, peaking
with the melodramatic finale of Apokatastasis Panton.
Diabolus Absconditus (Norma Evangelium Diaboli, 2011) and
Drought (Season Of Mist, 2012)
represented two sides of the band: the ambitious quasi-classical high-brow
auteurs and the sloppy juvenile rockers.
The agonizing guitars and thundering drums of
Diabolus Absconditus pivot around a
diabolical declamation until the slump into a section of subdued jazzy jamming
before launching in a frantic finale.
A compilation album paired Diabolus Absconditus with
Mass Grave Aesthetics, originally released in 2008 as a self-standing EP,
an imposing wall of distortion that, after a brief surreal silence, explodes
into a black-metal orgy that eventually opens up into a soaring choral "om"
and eventually dissolves into a trickle of dissonances and an opera sample.
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