Polish Black Metal fiends NON OPUS DEI return after a year with their newest release “The Quintessence” set to challenge and push the boundaries of their genre, seeking the occult beyond the walls of normality.
From first listen you can tell that this is a release to take your time over. Once you can figure it out you can really feel the vast realms of layered composition here. With “21 XII 2004” The melodies are sweet, yet lamenting and it really comes off as something classy and original.
There is real strength and depth to the instrumental work that is easy to miss, but it’s there and it gives the overall tone a lot more power and feeling to it. Recording quality has a very human feel to it, not too rounded or overdone, but not pretentiously poor in the name of being “true”. Vocals are cold and lamenting as one would expect and drums thunder away in no spectacularly groundbreaking fashion but together there is a great coordination where no instrument is exaggerated or predominant. It is one of the few releases where you can focus on the overall music and not just what the guitar/vocals/drums/bass are doing.
As the album progresses certain themes evolve in a very fluid motion and although there is nothing really breathtakingly new here you can tell that the band has got to a point and instead of advancing from it, they have dug further and advanced from within it, broadening it from underneath like a subtle escape attempt from the conformity that finds home in every extreme genre.
Although some points of the album could definitely do with sounding a bit more convincing the general sound is pretty good. There is little to compare them to aside from perhaps ENSLAVED on the basis that they are Progressive Black Metal, yet that does then no justice in comparison to hearing them. Whilst not having an instantly recognisable sound, paradoxically it sounds like little else. Tracks like “A Beauty Made Of Steel” really have something else to them that set them apart. There is interesting chord work and rhythms that find commonplace in slow jazz and although little riffs or ideas are lost or unconvincing, the emptiness that they fill would be desolate without them. Similarly, “Das Ist Krieg” doesn’t really bring anything to the album, nor does it really take anything away, whilst “Oczy Tej Kobiety” throws in a quieter yet equally enthralling number that really gives the album character. The album ends on a darkly vexing note, leaving you not quite sure where they’re coming from, nor how they got there
The album is nothing amazing nor does it transcend definition, but Rome wasn’t built in a day and as NON OPUS DEI slowly chip away at the boundaries surrounding their citadel, their output is definitely worth a listen, preferably several in fact. You’ll need to give it a couple of tries but all in all; a very sound release. I will very much look forward it a couple to the next.
(Online May 16, 2007)