Released: 2012, Agonia Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
I had heard some of Opera IX’s previous Gothic Metal material in the past but I found it quite cool to hear the change in style on this latest release to a more Black Metal/Extreme Gothic Metal direction. The album opens with the intro track Strix – The Prologue which sounds like some sort of cool soundtrack to a classic 80’s horror movie and really sets the blasphemous tone for the whole album with references to religious history in the track and harmonious Gregorian style Monk Chanting before going into 1313 (Eradicate The False Idols) which has a sound which reminded me quite a bit of stuff like Hecate Enthroned or early Cradle Of Filth and even at times sounds similar to Watain’s material from the Lawless Darkness album.
The production on the album really does hark back to the sort of Glory Days of Extreme Gothic Metal during the mid to late 90’s when it seemed to be very popular. Each element of the music is clear enough to hear and make out which is great but it still has that nice trebly guitar sound that you’d expect from a Black Metal release and the drums kick through nicely with clicky bass drums and a good snare sound (rather than it being horribly triggered like some other Black Metal bands I won’t mention). The keyboards also sound great with their angelic vocal harmonies from them hovering above the mix really nicely and the main vocals are a mixture of at times higher end Gothic/Black Metal screams and at other times more lower guttural Death Metal style aggressive vocals. The vocals at times remind me a lot of a mixture between the latest Marduk and Watain releases, which in my opinion isn’t such a bad thing if it makes the music sound good!
The whole album has a really atmospheric theme behind it, which I really love from any form of Gothic or Black Metal and whilst most bands sometime struggle to inter-connect a theme throughout an album, Opera IX seem to do it well on this one. The theme being the dark ages of mankind and the religious persecution of anything outside of the accepted norms of Christianity like Witchcraft, Satanism, Paganism and other alternative beliefs that were sought out and destroyed during this era in history.
Tracks like Vox In Rama really stand out as putting across this theme and sets up Vox In Rama (Part 2) very nicely (well you’d hope it would anyways though I guess?). Other stand out tracks include Mandragora which has a really nice mixture of slower segments mixed with Old School style blast beats.
If you’re looking for an all-out hyper speed Blast Beat filled Black Metal album then this probably will not be the band for you, but if you’re looking for an atmospheric album with a lot of nice dynamics of fast and heavy to slow, sludgy, doom-laden riffs that wouldn’t be out of place in anyone’s candlelit place of dark rituals and practices, and something to really stir your darkened imagination and inspire you visually, mentally and musically then I would say definitely give this album a listen! Also if you’re a fan of Hecate Enthroned, Old Cradle of Filth, Watain, Marduk and any other Black Metal with a more dynamic edge of Extreme Gothic Metal then I would say definitely pick up a copy of this album and prepare to let the darkness in…
Review by Joffie Lovett