Here was the deal with this one: for about seven euros I could get the digital download for Ophidian Henosis, the third full-length from New Zealand’s Barshasketh. Or, for a euro more (plus shipping, of course) I could get the CD. I opted for the latter and here we are, although I still don’t rightly know what the album name means beyond it’s rough translation of “union of snakes” which is – admittedly – pretty metal.
So is the album for that matter. Divided into sections, each track takes the by now worn formula of black metal and drives for the style in every twisting, shifting reflection of itself, whether it’s the sudden thrash moment that closes out “Ophidian Henosis – I” or the progressive death interlude on “Ophidian Henosis – II.” Barshasketh doesn’t shy away from terrible black metal leanings like a decent production and *gulp* melody, and Ophidian Henosis is all the better for it. This is black metal that is structured, powerful, and embracing of its roots without being slavish to the fact.
Lyrically there’s a level of introspection and meaning that moves well beyond clichéd driven meanderings about Satan and moonlit rituals. That was one of the highlights of owning a physical copy: the chance to actually see if the vocals were just there as musical ornamentation or if there was something richer to be mined. I’m not morally one for reprinting lyrics, but recently Ive been talking about how regardless of a musician’s intent when releasing music, the listener will ultimately be the final judge as to what something means to them. And though there may be a difference intent with the lyrics of Ophidian Henosis, I found them striking.
They constructed their own prison and damned their descendants to
And I am like them
A coward before the vastness of nothingness
Crippled by the mocking sting of guilt
Quick Note: I recently reviewed their latest self titled album for Nine Circles and – no surprise – really dug it. Also, when I really like something I tend to say “I dig it.” If that dates me so be it.