Deathspell Omega – “Manifestations 2002”

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2007 saw the release of Fas – Ite, Maledicti, In Ignem Aeternum as the second panel in a monumental triptych begun three years prior. It was a clear departure from many standards of Black Metal, even the revolutionary Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice. Many fans embraced this new brand of dark, calculated chaos. Abandoned were those too conservative to stray beyond their Black Metal orthodoxy.

For this latter group (but really all DsO fans in general) the Manifestations compilations are a glorious blessing. We feel like archaeologists who discovered a lost history. This is especially true on Manifestations 2002, of which no material was released prior. Like filling in gaps in the fossil record, we can now appreciate how these French Darkthrone worshippers evolved into the apotheosis of Black Metal’s 3rd wave.

So you can see why those wary of the latest material are beyond excitement. Just the artwork itself foreshadows the storm of darkness and hatred unleashed upon pressing play. “Tyrants And Slaves” delivers such an assault, with relentless blast-beats and oppressive riffing. Rasping amidst the tempest are Shaxul’s shrieks, higher pitched than Mikko’s signature growls, reflective of the band’s adolescence. This track also showcases the haunting melodies their lead guitars are capable of.

As a transition piece, Manifestations 2002 reveals a step up in complexity and a firmer grip on their craft. With this they rise to a level beyond even their countrymen Antaeus’s latest output, Blood Libels. But amidst this passion and vigor we find elements employed in their later material. For example, “Procreation Epidemic” contains the same melody used to greater effect in “Kénôse II” three years later. With this compilation (though all from a single recording session) the jump from the formulaic Inquisitors of Satan to Si Monumentum… no longer seems miraculous, but a logical progression. The music itself is evidence of a turbulent era, from which Shaxul departed the band, citing the clandestine philosophy that DsO was adopting.

This is by no means a money-grabber compilation of B-sides. This was material intended for release, but pushed aside in preparation for the band’s monolithic breakthrough. Currently on their way to the trinity’s conclusion, the band has unveiled a hidden chapter crucial to understanding the coalescence of a cryptic vision. And even for those new to the band, this is the perfect place to start. For this is supreme quality Black Metal by any standards: vicious, melancholy, and dark as the depths of Erebus. Manifestations 2002 is further proof that Deathspell Omega are the pontifices maximi of post-millennium Black Metal. 

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