Welcome to the first truly great black metal album of 2008. AZAGHAL's "Omega" is an exceedingly well written, well rounded, and utterly devastating album from the Finnish horde. Heck, if you can understand Finnish lyrics, you'll really be in for a treat!
Objectively speaking, I'd even put "Omega" a hair above the last two DODSFERD releases, "Fucking Your Creation" and "Cursing Your Will to Live", though on the whole I'll probably always retain a soft, albeit blackened, spot for the Greek terror. And that's a good starting point for discussion of "Omega". AZAGHAL delivers its most ferocious moments in a manner similar in some ways to that of DODSFERD, defined in large part by the scathing riffs and the nihilistic aura achieved through the hateful vocals. One can hear it in the album's thrashy/groovy moments, such as the changeup from furious blasting to the thrash segments on "Kuolemankultti" and "Kuolonkaarme", as well as the head-banging cadence of "Tuhkaan Kirjoitettu".
Where "Omega" really shines though is in the band's knack for writing the perfect pace shifts and arrangement changeups, no matter how brief, as well as the use of accent, and that includes the percussive coloration heard throughout the disc. Hitting just some of the highlights, "Quetzalcoatl" is a mid-tempo march of sorts with an Eastern-sounding lick, an effective keyboard break (the instrument is lightly used in several places and done so for maximum impact), and still leaves room for plenty of blasting. "Vihani Raivoavina Valtamerina" almost fools you with rather inviting, yet still sinister, opening segment that includes subtle keys before diving headfirst into carnage, then ultimately returning to the slower tempo with that — quite honestly — pleasant keyboard melody. Stepping back a bit from the track-by-track run down, it is easiest to explain that "Omega" centers on an up-tempo, skin flaying blitzkrieg, but deftly incorporates rousing rhythms, airy chords, atmospheric keys, BM guitar harmonizing that is nearly symphonic, and melody that somehow survives amidst the musical horror.
As I've stated in previous reviews over the years, much of the appeal black metal has to do with the feeling conveyed and the creation of atmosphere, elements that transcend mere song construction. What makes "Omega" such a stalwart release is that AZAGHAL hits the bull's eye on two levels: the harnessing of dread and the creation of memorable songs. This one's a keeper.