Opera IX - Strix Maledicte In AeternumOpera IX‘s newest release is entitled “Strix Maledicte In Aeternum.” Loosely translated is a vampiric evil spirit that curses you for all eternity. Heavy. So you go into this expecting it to be a total downer. Suprisingly, the album isn’t as maudlin as one would expect. It’s death metal, for sure but it comes across more epic and operatic, full of sweeping vistas if you will.

‘1313’ is a track that you would expect a full orchestra with many players cavorting about a smoke filled stage dressed black robes while red lights flicker with in time to the music. ‘1313’ is very visual. It reminds me of Dimmu Borgir with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra.

‘Dead Tree Ballad’ is not, as one would suspect, a ballad. It’s more of a keyboard heavy metal song. Dalamar has some wicked cool drumming on this track. He really shows his chops. When this track is played live, I suspect a very large mosh session to break out. The pacing alternates between fast and “slow” to give moshers a chance to unleash and then walk it off, regroup, then explode again.

‘Vox in Rama‘ (parts 1 and 2) are amazingly crafted tracks. Here you’ll find heavy medieval and sludgy baroque stylings. Ossian and M‘s guitars are strait forward in phrasing, but create a theme of overwhelming dread and doom.

‘Mandragora’ is another doom metal song. Dalamar beats his drums with such ferocity you feel an eminent break of his snare drum head and M‘s vocals vomit a putrid mass of verbiage. The piano line that weaves through from time to time gives the track a light evilness. ‘Eyes in the Well‘ is another straight forward doom/black metal song. More excellent drumming by Dalamar. More evil vocal stylings from M. Halfway through the album and “Strix Maledictae in Aeternum” settles into a nice groove. Plenty of head banging to be had.

‘Earth and Fire’ sports some complex orchestration, plus loads of time and key changes. They’ve brought back the interlacing evil piano tinklings. I like that. The song really moves. It truly shows off the musicanship of Opera IX.

‘Ecate the Ritual‘ moves back into classic Italian operatic territory; very doom and gloom and black. If they play this song live and there is no jaw dropping outrageous stage presentation, I’ll be very disappointed.  Ecate kicks it up to the Greek Tragedy notch. Finally, I get to hear some of Vlad‘s playing. The song is amazing in construction. It’s Black Sabbath and Carl Orff all rolled into one.

‘Nemus Tempora Maleficarum‘ is another really kick ass metal song. I have no idea what language M is singing in, but it’s dank and drips with vile putridity. The album closes with another strait ahead death black metal track called ‘Historia Nocturna.’ More kick ass drumming. Vlad‘s bass is actually heard on this track weaving in and out of the guitar playing. About 5 minutes into the track it degenerates into speed metal territory then back into death metal territory. They seem to throw everything in here but the kitchen sink. At 6:35 I think I hear bagpipes… no lie. And at 7:14 a flute. It makes for quite a dissonant cacophonous ending to an album. But all you can do is shake your head and chuckle. Strix Maledictae in Aeternum is a musical journey. Undertake it if you dare. You can pick up Strix Maledictae in Aeternum on Agonia Records on January 24th in Europe and February 28th in the United States.

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