I wouldn’t call Deathspell Omega one of my favorite bands even though I’ve devoured everything they’ve done since Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice. I obsessively listen to them every now and again, then not at all for months or even a year-plus. This isn’t due to growing sick of them, just… well, they’re not a band you can throw on all the time. They’re ceaselessly complex, writing densely philosophical songs wrapped in malformed arpeggios and macabre grumbling. That’s not some shit you throw on some Tuesday after work to accompany a beer and a few hours of the X-Files on Netflix. You’ve got to long for it, be ready for the band to knead their fingers into your mind and slowly pull apart whatever they can grab. You’ve got to be in a dark place or at least be alright with temporarily being dragged into one.

Which is why Drought, their latest EP that you didn’t know was out until a few days after it became available, hits so perfectly.

A reasonable distance from Paracletus, their last album, it reminds you the ever-swerving, shifting beast they still are. In 20ish minutes, they create discomfort, obliterate, and even pine a little. They don’t stray far from the center, keeping things even more tightly reined in than Paracletus. But while that may seem like creative fatigue or ennui the first time through, after a while, Drought reveals itself to be so tightly packed that most of the details fly by you. But they’re there, destined to be dissembled.

Better writers than me have made the Dillinger Escape Plan comparison, and damn, it’s hard to listen to the first few seconds of “Abrasive Swirling Muck” and not imagine guitar flips and Greg Puciato’s bulging arms veins. But DsO are simply culling from the same well of chaos; there’s not a ton here the band haven’t already touched upon in the past. It sounds familiar and different simultaneously. As intense and concentrated as it is, Drought would be unlistenable stretched over 74 minutes, so it’s perfect at its abbreviated length. That being said, it’s hard to call it a complete work, as you’re sort of left with a feeling of “What the fuck did I just hear?” by the end of “The Crackled Book of Life”’s ghostly coda. But “what the fuck did I just hear?” is familiar Deathspell Omega territory, and like any of their best stuff, you’re left with more questions than answers. The band are too serious and bizarre for black metal now, and I’m half-excited/half-apprehensive to hear what soul-defilement they have planned for the future. Whatever little time you spend with them is always, at the very least, profoundly memorable.

(4 out of 5 horns)


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