The Black Opera: Symphoniae Mysteriorum In Laudem Tenebrarum
Review by Jack on March 2, 2002.
The current black metal circa late 2001, early 2002 is in my opinion quite saturated with bands looking for a piece of the pie that Dimmu Borgir and Emperor have obtained through many hard years of work and dedication. Trying to be gimmicky and using over-ripe keyboards ala Dimmu Borgir and operatic theatrics ala Emperor can only get you so far. If however you try an approach that Opera IX have effectively mastered; that is the introduction of female vocals, chances are you will perhaps go quite well in that contemporary black metal scene.
Opera IX’s biggest marketing factor is the fact that they use a lead female vocalist. We are talking black metal vocals here, not the soft girly vocals most commonly associated with those of the Nightwish and Lacuna Coil ilk. Beautiful rasps that Dani or Shagrath would be proud of. These vocals range from high pitched Cradle of Filth rasps (more manly that Dani’s though; which I find quite amusing) to more somber clean passages, both of which are handled quite well. What does strike me as odd about the vocal work with Opera IX and “The Black Opera” is that try to make things over complex, seemingly not satisfied with the black rasps and clean sections there is additional in between vocals that are sort of spoken screams. These spoken screams do not work at all, it unfortunately detracts quite significantly from an otherwise good vocal performance.
Musically, “The Black Opera” is something in the scale of Hollenthon sort of musical effort, seemingly to use a lot of classical and folk influences which has then been transposed with a decent shot of black metal over the top. Quite a nice mixture. Very atmospheric and dark, which is quite refreshing.
Lyrically, “The Black Opera” tells a story that is divided up in six acts (or 6 tracks) and tells us the story of a holy/spiritual warrior that has been brought forth to undertake a journey to find spiritual enlightenment.
Overall “The Black Opera” is quite a good album, that is only really marred by some weird vocals that don’t really know where they are travelling, which does detract from the listening experience and forces me to cry out in anguish and disgust (hehe, not really, I just wonder what the fuck was that particular vocal part doing in the section of the song).
Bottom Line: Overall pretty decent black metal album, with cool FEMALE black vocals. Pretty nice touch there. “The Black Opera” is also a concept album, which is refreshing, I enjoy a good story. Not much lacking here really. Definitely worth a look.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 7.6 out of 10