Norma Evangelium Diaboli
6/15/2011 - Review by: Etiam
On the back of 'Tiamtü's booklet is the declaration, writ large, "Orthodox Religious Death Metal". The word "Death" is in a separate font and entirely capitalized, likely to emphasize the point that Ofermod doesn't play 'death metal' as we typically imagine it, but rather 'metal of or pertaining to death'. In genre, 'Tiamtü' is decidedly black, rife with minor barre punctuations of angular tremolo patterns and blasting drums. The 'Death' appellation is earned through the lyrical obsession of vocalist Nebiros (halfway between Abbath and Rayner Cos of Mithras), who harps eternally about the ancient serpent of chaos, the watery serpent of chaos, etc.
Indeed, after repeated listens it becomes apparent that Ofermod is more concerned with its credentials than its songwriting. In the liner notes the band gives shout-outs to Deathspell Omega, Marduk, Watain, and others that share in their "secret cult of Death". To be sure, these artists have all expressed vociferous enthusiasm for various anti-Christian ideologies, severally titled as "orthodox", "occultic", "metaphysical Satanism", or whatever sounds the most obscurely learned. More importantly for fans, they have also backed up their bravado with ripping good tunes. While lyrics and ideology can greatly enhance a band's stature, most metalheads would listen to songs giving worship to The Wiggles--if the music were good enough.
And that, regrettably, is not the case with 'Tiamtü', which seems a milder take on Funeral Mist without the momentous menace and unhinged performances. And this is perplexing, for Ofermod has been recording some of the same songs since before Funeral Mist and other such bands even existed. It's a shame that Ofermod's most milquetoast effort should also be their first LP, especially when a song like 'Khabs Am Pekht'--released on their past three offerings--has so much potential.
Of the new material, the most compelling melody is the eerie tremolo harmony found in 'Maasseh Nechushtan', perhaps because it is one of the few not smothered by vocals. But even this song proves to be another squandered opportunity, featuring a droning narration and going nowhere after a promising first 90 seconds. Otherwise, the most notable piece of this package is the Grateful Dead rose-crowned skeleton that appears in the booklet, which is otherwise filled with exclamation-pointed invocations of malice, gnostic imagery, and vomiting and/or blood-splattered band members. Ofermod have been around for 15 years now and clearly have the ideological zeal to stand among those heavyweight names mentioned above. But when the time came to lay down their best on the big stage, Ofermod delivered 'Maha Kali' instead of 'Storm of the Light's Bane'.
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