By Dr. Abner Mality

Drought is here, right where I live, as I write this. The grass is brown and crinkled, heat hangs over the land like a shroud and crops are weak and meager, promising a bitter harvest. Deathspell Omega understands drought...not just lack of moisture, but the crippling of the soul that comes with it, the gradual fading of hope as you know rain is not coming. They understand it and they've chosen to explore it in musical form.

The result is another challenging black metal masterpiece from the mysterious Frenchmen. "Drought" is a six song EP, but no throwaway collection of discarded tracks, covers and bric a brac. They've put just as much thought into this as they have their demented full length epics. You never listen to Deathspell Omega and "get it" immediately. The music demands several listening sessions...if you're strong enough to endure it....and even then, that may not be enough.

Instrumental opener "Salowe Vision" is not black metal as most understand it, but a moody slice of what is usually called "post-metal". It sets the table for this bleak feast in a unique way. But any fears that D.O. have abandoned black metal roots vanish like fog in the noonday sun when first proper track "Fiery Serpents" erupts. This is fast, slicing black metal, featuring those incredibly sinister frog-like vocals, and the attack continues with "Scorpions and Drought". The music transports us into a merciless desert where will evaporates as much as moisture.

This really plays like one great song, as the tracks seemlessly merve into each other. The brief, melodic "Sand" leads into "Abrasive Swirling Murk" and if any song ever lived up to its title, it's this one. Harsh, jagged and uneasy, the song is beautifully constructed, with ghosts of melody dancing in the hellish non-linear darkness. The EP concludes as we open "The Cracked Book of Life" shake your head listening to this epic, wondering how mere mortals can fashion something so multi-faceted yet relentlessly black.

Deathspell Omega fans will no doubt already plan on acquiring this, regardless of what anybody says, but this is a fantastic jumping on point for anyone who has yet to experience this ferociously intelligent bunch.