Dødheimsgard’s recent release, ‘A Umbra Omega’ is undoubtedly one of the most difficult albums for me to talk about. It’s not that the album is so bad or so good that I cant find words to describe it. Rather, it’s because I do not understand this album completely. Maybe I never will. But that is what Dødheimsgard is known for and they’ve been doing this ever since they came out with 1999’s ‘666 International’. They’ve now released their most complex and weird album to date with this one. This album is so twisted and dumbfounding that even after listening to this for an entire month, I cant wrap my head around it. I still do not know for sure whether I like this album or not.
My enjoyment aside, I can say one thing for sure. Dødheimsgard are one of the most forward thinking bands on this planet today. Evolution is something they’ve been doing ever since they debuted as a second wave black metal band and they’ve continued to grow into this avant garde industrial black metal entity. Even this label does not do them justice because this band touches upon everything from black metal to free jazz.
The music on this record sounds like it’s a sentient being with a mind of it’s own. And that mind is schizophrenic. It’s unpredictable and jumps all over the place. One minute, complex tremolo riffs erupt, reminding the listener of the band’s roots and the very next minute the music shifts to dark ambient passage that has a devilish atmosphere. When listening to the tracks for the first time, the listener may feel like the rug has been pulled from under his feet. But these transitions are measured ones and they are designed to perplex the audience.
The band’s use of non traditional instruments like the saxophone and piano gives the album a theatrical feel. Melody also makes its presence felt but all of it sounds eerie. These guys use musical dissonance to a great effect. One of the main highlight of the record is the performance of returning vocalist Aldrahn. His vocals ooze with confidence and his delivery is absolutely flawless. He screams, cries, speaks and shouts like a lunatic. His vocal performance compounds the weirdness of the music. There are also electronic and industrial elements that are put to good use here without being overdone.
Listening to this album feels like falling down a dark endless cavern while unpredictably bumping into sharp edges that seem to pop up out of nowhere. As much as the album toys with my mind, at the end of it all, it brews in me an obsession; an obsession to listen to this album over and over till I can say for sure “I get it! I finally understand”.
When I listen to an album, I expect something new. Then again I also expect to be entertained. This album baffles me. It makes me feel stupid for failing to comprehend it. It makes writing this review hard. But I’m not very sure if it entertains me. Or is this unrelenting obsession it’s way of entertaining me?