Posts Tagged ‘Deathspell Omega’

This is a new thing I’m trying out, where I find a band that I have never heard of before, and probably who are split up and their stuff has become impossible to find/buy for a reasonable price. This week: Catacomb, blackened death metal from France, a new haven of aural devastation with the rise of Deathspell Omega and Gojira. But in 1993, Catacomb released ‘In the Maze of Kadath’, an EP of horrifying, suffocating death metal. Lovecraftian in inspiration, and definitely of the Old Ones in sound, ‘In the Maze of Kadath’ is an undiscovered gem to me. If this came out now, I’d regard it as special. It has that one thing that many new death metal bands are going for, and that’s atmosphere. It’s eerie, reeking of evil and ancient malevolence. The cover is of the Elder God Chthulu, rising from the ocean to spread madness. The striking greyscale cover marks it out from day-glo blood splatter death metal records, and the sound contained within is definitely of a different quality.

I found the EP in full on YouTube which I have linked below, for me the stand out tracks being the harrowing ‘Hallucinated Mountains’ and the crawling ‘Nemesis’. A must for all old school death metal fans

‘Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde’ is a strange beast. A one-man French black metal project has an implied sound and style, i.e Blut Aus Nord or Deathspell Omega. Alcest is neither, having much more in common with My Bloody Valentine and Burzum than their Gallic peers. ‘Souvenirs…’ is the debut album from Neige, the one man behind Alcest.

‘Souvenirs…’ provides an oddly outward view of the black metal landscape; it reaches upward with hope and light, rather than dark introversion. That alone should make it worth a listen, but the combination of hypnotic Burzum riffing and the fuzzy majesty of My Bloody Valentine create a strange beast that is beautiful to behold. Post rock meshes with blackened shoegaze (a term I had never come across before this album) to create six pieces of hopeful music, each with their own distinct identity. Ethereal vocals, seemingly devoid of lyrical content flow over each song, and weave within shimmering walls of guitars. It isn’t quite the ‘wall of sound’ approach, but there is a sense of size and scale. Vast sections of ebb and flow, coupled with crescendo-ing climaxes leave you with just a trace of Isis or Red Sparowes, but with less weight.

Multi-instrumentalist Neige combines his guitar lines well, clean guitar over acoustic working particularly effectively in ‘Ciel Errant’, and the prevalence of acoustic guitar during the majority of the record suits the style perfectly. The vocals are clean, clear and mesh in well, never taking attention away from the music yet never sparse enough to be ignored. Alcest is a project based on dreams that Neige had when he was younger, and you can believe that ‘Souvenirs…’ would provide a more than adequate soundtrack for a place of eternal happiness and bliss.

Happy black metal is not something you experience everyday, if ever. Alcest isn’t really metal, although Neige’s black metal past shows through Burzumic tremelo guitar drenched in fuzzy tones. One for the shoegazer in all of us, ‘Souvenirs d’un autre monde’ is simply stunning; proof that black metal can throw up beauty and light, as well as the darkness we all love.