Deathspell Omega – The Synarchy of Molten Bones
Originally scheduled for release on November 8th, the extremely reclusive and mysterious sect of Deathspell Omega uploaded the record to bandcamp late on Halloween evening (or afternoon depending on your timezone) sending their fans into a rush to listen and consume. Having not released any new music for four years, and announcing The Synarchy of Molten Bones with little fanfare or warning, the stealth tactics used by the French band suit their style – both in sound and in action. Chaos reigns on this first full length since 2010 and in bringing forth utter destruction, the band call upon the unholy in order to move through and explore the outer limits.
Deathspell Omega’s brand of black metal is one that is often imitated – a discordant array of sounds meld into one swirling vortex that is difficult to pierce on first glance – but never bettered. It’s easier to allow the music to sink into your bones and truly become one with the mind than try to find an entry point in the chaos and that’s something that has established DsO as true masters of their field.
“The Synarchy of Molten Bones” begins this record (although with less than thirty minutes of running time, one could argue for its status as an EP) on dense, disharmonic brass structures that usher in an aura of claustrophobia before giving way to guitars that filter through terror and the sermon-like vocals of Mikko Aspa. It’s interesting to note that there’s been a few rumblings that it may not be Aspa on the record although there’s often times where it couldn’t be anyone else. There’s a theory that Spica of S.V.E.S.T. adds some vocals here and it’s not completely far-fetched but perhaps his contribution isn’t as large as been suggested.
The Synarchy of Molten Bones feels like a new beginning for DsO, after the closure that Paracletus wrought and 2012s EP, Drought sought to continue (for some, not successfully) this seems like a rebirth and a reimagining of a sound that is so singular and recognisable.
“Famished for Breath” introduces motifs that are classic DsO in construction but “Onward where Most with Ravin I may meet” pushes all boundaries that have been created. There are so many moments throughout this track where the complete loss of your conscious mind is a very real possibility but it’s around 7:50 that things really come to a head. The bass drives forward constantly and beats cascade through dissonant horns, slipping and pulsating in malevolent tones before building to a jarring expanse and falling through into the abyss. It’s truly exceptional and a delicious moment in a work that speaks of the unknown and the desire we have to explore the darkness.
Listen and purchase here.
Disemballerina – Poison Gown
Portland’s Disemballerina aren’t the usual Bleak Metal fare, but the trio play an instrumental style that echoes with sadness and grace and an aura that is certainly dark enough to warrant being featured here. The instrumentation is truly classical, with viola, cello, harp and acoustic guitar being just some of the sounds used to create Disemballerina’s sound. Their fourth full length, Poison Gown, was released earlier this year and begins on the gorgeously sorrowful “Impaled Matador,” a track which introduces the album as one of stately elegance, yet somehow also cloaked in shadow. It moves stealthily forward on acoustic guitar refrains that allow the other players to build and weave their movements slowly through and create an atmosphere of sorrow.
“La Folia” gives a sense of hesitation with its stringed instruments occasionally using a staccato style to induce a feeling of fear with later progressions almost giving explorative vibrations, as though the song is seeking resolution from the earlier terror. It’s a delightful tactic and one that gives a dreamy essence to the proceedings which follows through the entirety of the album.
“Phantom Limb” uses sharp cuts of string and melancholy passages to build images of sadness and anxiety within its walls before “Year of the Horse” takes us completely down the sorrowful path and into realms of absolute despair.
Disemballerina may not be metal, but their music contains many aspects of the genre which will speak to a lot of people. The textures are beautiful, the sorrow tangible and the occasional glimmer dread is breathtaking.
Listen and purchase here.
Wędrujący Wiatr – O turniach, jeziorach i nocnych szlakach
Polish black metal is on an incredible upswing at the moment, with Mgła, Cultes des Ghoules and Wędrujący Wiatr all releasing albums that are instantly recognised as masterful works of art. For the latter, O turniach, jeziorach i nocnych szlakach is a phenomenal step in a career that only began three years ago but has somehow produced two incredible pieces of work. For Wędrujący Wiatr, the thing that stands them apart from the previously mentioned bands, is the way they harness pure emotion throughout their music and O turniach, jeziorach i nocnych szlakach features some of the most heartfelt, passionate black metal that has come out this year. The songs are gorgeous with sorrow in the undercurrent and anguish laid bare in its melancholy strides.
Vocals are wonderfully varied, with vocalist Razor using a combination of classic black metal screams, echoing shouts and even low chants to inspire a feeling of utter hopelessness which alongside an interesting motif of bells (a sound heard often), truly adds depth and intrigue to a record that is genuinely faultless. “Ze szczytów i z toni” begins the album on acoustic scales that are reminiscent of Lunar Aurora and their use of natural sounds to create atmosphere but when “Wołanie z granitowych twierdz” moves into view, the whole feeling travels towards one of bleak repose.
Themes gravitate towards Polish folklore and there’s a deep sense of awe for the natural world held within the record, noticeably when the soaring guitars of “Ja, wiatr” move effortlessly toward a peaceful passage replete with beautiful acoustic guitars slipping gracefully through the sounds of the forest at night before coming back into astoundingly sorrowful territory and moving on deeper tones and powerful bellows. Again, the sounds of the outside world feature on instrumental piece “Gdzie wiatr tka makatki nocy” and lead it ever further into shimmering light.
“U stóp śniącego króla Tatr” closes the record with a stunning thirteen minute ode to the beauty of the world and the stars and trees and all that is truly wonderful in nature. It pulls moments from earlier in the album in its opening moments to create a link and in doing adds threads of beauty to an already towering song. Sounds of a running river are allowed to take precedent for only a short time before the peace is shattered and the shearing guitars give way to chant-like vocals and a moment of worship for the distant past.
Wędrujący Wiatr have created a record that will lead to obsession, a record that reveals more as you dive beneath the surface and a record that is honestly, incredible from beginning to end. It runs at nearly one hour but it feels like barely half of that. Not many could instil a wish for even more music after sixty minutes, but this duo are not like any other band and the words here do no justice for just how emotive O turniach, jeziorach i nocnych szlakach is. It’s almost a waste of time to try but some music touches you more keenly than you ever expected.
Listen and purchase here.