by Count Alucalb

Willfully secretive French progressive black metalists Deathspell Omega conclude their metaphysical trilogy (begun in 2004 with "Si Monvmentvm Reqvires, Circvmspice" and 2007's "Fas-Ite, Maledicti, In Ignem Aeternum") with this jagged masterpiece of malignant spirituality. A tightly focused but dense burst of technical brutality that demands much from the listener but offers many rewards for the adventurous ear.

The ten, relatively short songs (the centerpiece Phosphene is the longest clocking in at 7 minutes) flow together as movements in an orchestrated whole. Musical motifs established early on reappear in later songs. Post-rock and jazz influenced rhythms ground the music and drive the it forward while the sharp, disjointed guitar riffs are constantly on the verge of collapsing into total chaos but remaintightly focused and structurally sound. The dizzyingly changing time signatures can at times be almost too much to process but thanks to some of the best production I've ever heard on a black metal release,all the pieces are clearly defined. A black metal release with audiblebass lines? Who knew such a thing was possible?

I won't pretend to fully grasp the philosophical ideas expressed in the lyrics that alternate between English, French and Latin passages. Something to do with the Holy Spirit as man and Satan? Whatever. It might be philosophical mumbo jumbo but as with the music, it is light-years ahead of the tired misanthropic Satanism and second hand Nietzsche-isms expressed by lesser practitioners of the black arts. On every level Paracletus is a challenging, difficult and accomplished work. Not an easy listen to be sure but one that hasmuch to reveal to the open-minded listener. Without a doubt one of the finest metal recordings released this year.

COUNT ALUCALB is the Programming Director for the Chicago Underground Film Festival, which can be found at htttp://