The 21st century fosters an interesting trend for record labels. Every tenured band releases a collage of archaic works these days, and cases like OPERA IX’s “The Early Chapters” showcase the development of each major act by diminishing the value of collectors’ stashes and making rare tracks, demos, and B-sides available to the masses.
The first five tracks on “The Early Chapters” come from the 1990 Gothik demo vocally heralded by Madras. The conversational Gothic introductions on a few songs make the demo hard to swallow, but its innovation establishes a clear birthplace for this Blackened Folk relic. “Invocation” resembles SEPULTURA or SODOM trapped in a Transylvanian castle, and the quality of the first five tracks seems better balanced than the following four from 1992.
The bass lines and percussion of the 1992 demo contain the depth of a hand-held uni-track thrown on a couch in a boarded-up room. The guitar and keyboards fare better, but the vocal tracks capture the perfect raspy embodiment associated with the immortal Cadaveria, which makes everything worthwhile. The eerie vibe of these tracks offers more maturity than the preceding tracks, and in truth the band captures a clearer direction in these recordings than they actually captured on their studio releases. A destiny takes shape in these tracks that carries into the concluding tracks of this compilation in a superior form.
The concluding two tracks come off a 7” EP called “The Triumph Of The Death,” and in these songs Cadaveria seems an evident beacon for attracting the attention of a major label. “Born In The Grave” has a peculiar dissonant tuning that slips through the mix almost unnoticed. Its lead work stinks, but the song screams the band’s identity with undeniable charm. “The Red Death” offers the most complete package on the disc despite a few problems with volume leveling, and in truth it serves as the primary reason to purchase the compilation. Fans of Black Metal and early OPERA IX will find much treasure here while lovers of Folk Metal and CADAVERIA will marvel at how far the artists and genres have come.
(Online August 8, 2008)