Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Deathspell Omega - Inquisitors of Satan (2002)

Inquisitors of Satan is the second full-length album from Deathspell Omega, though it might be more accurate to consider this their first proper L.P. considering the fact that the previous album consisted of four new songs and then several demo tracks. Deathspell Omega made quite a name for themselves through the release of the previous album, as well as a series of splits they did with Clandestine Blaze, Mütiilation and Moonblood. If anything will establish a band as one to keep an eye on, this certainly did the trick. In each of these cases, it was as if the other bands featured on the split as endorsing these guys, which probably helped get their name out there and to earn them a bit of respect. Released in May 2002, on Northern Heritage, Inquisitors of Satan stands as a tribute to the first era of this band... an era which some prefer.

I heard of this band for some time before actually checking them out. It wasn't until the release of the Kenose E.P. that I actually saw a Deathspell Omega album in a record store, so this was my first exposure to the band. I knew practically nothing of them, as I'd never even bothered to research them online. It didn't take long to realize that Mikko Aspa, of Clandestine Blaze, was handling the vocal duties. At any rate, I was interested enough in what I heard to seek out more. The first album that I purchased was Inquisitors of Satan, since it appeared to be the first true full-length (after doing a little reading). This became the album from which I derived my opinion of this band, and it's still the first thing I think of when I hear the band's name. It also possesses some sentimental value as it arrived in the mail on a very significant day for me. They've gone on to create some decent music, but I don't think any other album bears the consistency that this one does. To this day, it remains my favourite and it's the single album from them that I most recommend to others.

"From Unknown Lands of Desolation" starts as if it's already in the middle of something, in a way. It's similar to movies that begin with a dramatic scene that will later be explained. The fast drums and tremolo riffs work along with the possessed vocals to create a sense of tension and chaos. This is the only way that I can really describe the guitar riffs of this period of the band's existence. The tempo alternates from blindingly fast, in the Transilvanian Hunger vein, to something a little more catchy. After a couple minutes, the riffs transition to something with an increased sense of urgency. One gets the feeling that it is building toward something dreadful and apocalyptic. This is certainly good music for the end of the world.

"Our skies are forever black
Here is no signs of life at all
For burning spirits we are
Consuming your small universe
Slowly but surely"

The next song, "Torture and Death", begins in much the same way as the previous song ended. Of course, one can make another Darkthrone comparison by stating that several of the songs may seem quite similar to those who don't bother to actually listen. Once you do, it is easy to differentiate the various melodies, though they may be played in a similar manner and maintain the same speed. Shaxul's vocals still sound like Hat, of Gorgoroth, and his style fits the music so much better than Mikko. I am a fan of Clandestine Blaze, but I do feel that Deathspell Omega would have benefited from retaining Shaxul's services.

"Desecration Master" begins with a catchy riff, sounding almost like a sped-up Celtic Frost riff. It soon speeds up a bit more, though not matching the intensity of the previous tracks. There are also some dissonant arpeggio riffs thrown in, adding to the obscure feeling conveyed by the music. Lyrically, the song keeps within Satanic and anti-human themes. For some reason, the band considers their earlier lyrics to be too immature or sub-par, as the reissues don't include them. This comes off as a little pretentious, as there's nothing wrong with the lyrics, at all. One doesn't always need a thesaurus and a bible when writing lyrics. Song lyrics need not always read like a research paper. Simplicity is, sometimes, underrated.

"I need to see and feel humans suffering
Eyes full of fear imploring my mercy"

The more straight-forward approach returns on "Lethal Baptism". Worth noting is that the overall sound gives the impression of being raw, though it sounds quite polished when comparing it to old Darkthrone, for example. It's, somehow, raw and clear at the same time. The guitar sound is relatively sharp, but slightly dulled.

"Succubus of All Vices" features one of the best riffs on the whole album. It maintains the chaotic spirit that is prevalent in the rest of the songs, but this one possesses a sorrowful feeling that bleeds through the hatred. The pace shifts, a minute or so in, and the mournful atmosphere becomes more overpowering. The cold tremolo riffs produce a melancholy aura that haunts your mind. This song has to stand out as one of the most dynamic and well-structured of the band's career. This memorable song bears some epic qualities, taking you on a blackened journey.

The title track begins with a more relaxed feeling, being far less intense than the previous song. The speed picks up a little, but it's nothing too extreme. This one is a little more melodic in nature, at times. The tremolo riffs are clear and nicely contrast the raw vocals. Oddly enough, I recall thinking this band had to be Finnish when I first got this album, since it reminded me of Horna and Sargeist, in some way. I suppose it's natural that the share some characteristics since they were influenced by the same handful of Norwegian bands.

"Decadence" is the final song, and it may very well be the most epic song on the album. It starts with a slow pace that serves to create a desolate atmosphere. After a couple of minutes, chaos is unleashed as the song speeds up, transitioning back to the tremolo riffs and blasting drums. The guitar melodies in this song are, by far, some of the best of this band's career. The tension has increased to such an extent that you feel your soul being pulled from all directions, slowly tearing apart. This is the feeling of being consumed by the chaotic forces beyond. However, before you are torn to shreds, the pace slows back down and a morbid feeling falls over you. Your spirit becomes disconnected from your body, floating above as your corpse falls into a fresh grave. The end is here. You are free.