Deathspell Omega - The Long Defeat
Norma Evangelium Diaboli
Progressive Black Metal
5 songs (44:11)
Release year: 2022
Official Bandcamp, Norma Evangelium Diaboli
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

The first emanation of the third era of Deathspell Omega, reads some of what little information this secretive band chose to share with us about their latest creation. And it is indeed, something different and distinct from what went before, the chaotic horrors of Fas-Ite and Paracletus left behind. The Long Defeat builds on the dark manifesto of The Furnaces of Palingenesia, closer to post-metal and even post-punk at points but still very clearly black metal in both style and tone. Vocals remain snarls, perhaps performed by a different vocalist or three this time in addition to / instead of the band's usual mouthpiece, Mikko Aspa (rumours include Marduk's Mortuus, Mgła's M, and SVEST's Spica, but until the band confirm then we are throwing knives in the dark) and the riffs remain dissonant and atmospheric. Underrated, as ever, are the bass and drums, performed by Khaos and an unnamed sticksman (rumoured to be guitarist Hasjarl's brother, but again, who knows) that, of course, perform the rhythm section's job of forming a base atop which the rest of the music can be built but do so with such skill that you can't help but admire it. The production and sound of this album is extraordinary, with a lovely warmth and vigour that highlights the drum hits but also the bass tone, which has to be one of the best in black metal as a whole. Detract them as some may, it cannot be said that Deathspell Omega are not committed to their craft.

And despite the online reactions in some quarters, listening once and hurling their toys from their pram, time spent with this reveals it as another divisive yet masterful album. Imperious as ever but with restraint and even a touch of melody that is woven through the five songs here, ranging from seven minutes to nearly twelve, the band create an unsettling atmosphere immediately as opener Enantiodromia begins with throat singing and turns into a melancholic, slow-paced march, driven by the melodic guitar. It's somehow akin to Blut Aus Nord jamming with Mgła, unhurriedly building into a kind of post-punk-meets-blackened dirge that's as concerned with the bass rumblings as the vocals promising death, silence, and oblivion. And the ending is like a cut from a classic horror soundtrack, Susperia-like choirs mixing with Axis of Perdition-esque ambience to unsettle you even more. After that, the relative comedown of Eadem sed aliter can feel a little like an extended outro piece, returning to the softer, melodic meandering with a touch of Grand Declaration of War-era Mayhem to it thanks to the strident vocals.

Although it does indulge in a little more blasting as it goes it never feels particularly violent thanks to the melodic riffing and almost rockstar soloing, which is undermined in the second half as the song structure almost melts back on itself. This is probably the most like a conventional rock band Deathspell Omega have ever been, particularly on the following title track's squalling lead guitars and backing triumphalist keyboards - and most of all on finale Our Life is Your Death. Here, the band allow themselves to slip fully into a perversely upbeat post-punk feel, almost catchy with the riff patterns and vocal lines. Thanks to the snarling vocals it's still a deranged mimicry of a rock song rather than any unpredictable attempt at mainstream approbation (Aspa's other interests ensures that the only attention the likes of Pitchfork will pay to this is to condemn it) but it's still quite the leftfield switch for a band like Deathspell Omega. Conversely, Sie Sind Gerichtet! is the most chaotic and battering - and purely black metal - piece on the album, feeling a little more like something from a previous album. The two together make a compelling argument for The Long Defeat, even ignoring the context of the album (which includes a cryptic fable readable at their Bandcamp) and although it is easy to see why this won't be many people's idea of the best work yet from Deathspell Omega, it is equally easy to recognise how fascinating an album it is. Sure to remain on the playlist a long time; perhaps by the end of the year it will be dismissed as something of a failed experiment, but it's equally likely to be hailed as further proof of this band's genius.

Killing Songs :
Enantiodromia, The Long Defeat, Our Life is Your Death
Goat quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Deathspell Omega that we have reviewed:
Deathspell Omega - The Furnaces of Palingenesia reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Deathspell Omega - Drought reviewed by Charles and quoted no quote
Deathspell Omega - Paracletus reviewed by Charles and quoted 92 / 100
Deathspell Omega - Veritas Diaboli Manet In Aeternum: Chaining The Katechon reviewed by James and quoted no quote
Deathspell Omega - Manifestations 2000-2001 reviewed by James and quoted no quote
To see all 9 reviews click here
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