Opera IX—1998—Sacro Culto
Recorded at Cap. Woofer Studios in autumn 1997. Produced by Opera IX and Stefano Tappari. Mastered by Elettroformati S.R.L.
- The oak
- Fronds of the ancient walnut
- The naked and the dance
- My devotion
- Under the sign of the red dragon
So, to Opera IX‘s second full-length album and my second exposure to them.
The production is significantly better on this compared with The Call of the Wood (1995), the jangling bag of spanners has been replaced with a proper drum kit, and the rest of the instruments sound more present (rather than recorded at the other end of the hall).
The album starts with (female) vocalist Cadaveria barking the opening lyrics “In the whirls of time…”, followed by the kind of doom-like, dirge that wouldn’t have gone amiss on an early Paradise Lost album. Which pretty much sets the tone for the album as a whole: it’s a blend of black metal meets gothic.
As its predecessor, this album contains long, long songs: 10:40, 12:25, 8:20, 12:42. 14:59, and 11:18. That’s six songs in a little over 70 minutes.
The second track, which has the most splendidly bonkers title of “Fronds of the ancient walnut”, more than certainly draws on influence from Swiss avant-garde black metal pioneers Celtic Frost.
“The naked and the dance” is part folk metal, part a full-on thrashtastic, black metal wall of sound. I quite like it. It’s different.
“Cimmeries” (whatever they are) starts with a slow doom-like riff, part Paradise Lost/part-Celtic Frost. Of course the whole song lasts over 12 minutes so it doesn’t stay like that for long. More twisting and turning black metal riffs overlaid with shouting.
“My devotion” again opens slowly, with an atmospheric keyboard sound, bells and haunting (“aahhhh”) vocals, acoustic guitar and clean bass. It too soon melds into a doom-like dirge.
Guess how the last track starts. Slow and quiet? You got it. Bass guitar this time, overlaid with a passionate guitar solo. The doom-like dirge isn’t far behind.
Overall this isn’t a bad album. It’s definitely a leap ahead of its predecessor. The production is better, the song writing is better, and Opera IX appears to have moved in the three years from melodic black metal more towards a fusion of black metal, gothic and doom which fits their sound well.
My main criticism, I think, is that the songs are simply too long. They often begin with an interesting music theme that might be fun to explore and adapt throughout a five or six minute track, but these songs often go on for twice that length. By the end of the song I’ve forgotten how it began, and it appears to be a million miles from there anyway.
Black metal’s not really my bag, but this album has some interesting moments.
Review score: 67%