My-my!! I must say that I'm very impressed!
I had first heard about OPERA IX from a friend. He told me that it was atmospheric Black Metal with female vocals.
This is not something you'd run into every day! However, I trust his judgement, and he usually knows if I'll like something or not, so I bought "The Black Opera", OPERA IX's third album. Let me tell you I wasn't disappointed! He was right in a sense; they play their own style of atmospheric Black Metal with female vocals. So don't you go getting it into your head that this is another THE GATHERING/LACUNA COIL/NIGHTWISH-clone. Because that couldn't be further from the truth. The voice of Cadaveria can range from mantric chanting and clean singing, to ripping Black Metal-vocals, enough to bring any man to his knees! If there weren't a picture of Cadaveria in the booklet, I'd swear it was a man doing the black vocals! But she pulls it off very well indeed!
Musically, I'd describe "The Black Opera" as Black Metal with mixings of classical, folk, and some general evil atmosphere. To simply call it Black Metal would not be accurate. Also, I'd like to add that the music is somewhat complex, with many variations throughout each song, which averages at around 6-8 minutes. I definitely wouldn't compare this to the complexity of, say, OPETH, but it is not a collection of simple tunes.
"The Black Opera" revolves around a concept written by the band. It involves a spiritual warrior and the imaginary walk undertaken for the supreme knowledge. This is split up into six acts (tracks 1-6). Finally, after the concept has concluded, track 7 is a cover of BAUHAUS' "Bela Lugosi's Dead," which fits very well at the end of the album.
"The Black Opera" is a great album, but it's not perfect. My main concern with the album is one aspect of the vocals. Cadaveria sings beautifully clean and her black vocals are inhuman! But every now and then, she goes somewhere in between. I had to take an extra point off for this. I found them very hard to get into. They did grow on me after a while, but I think some people will find them difficult to listen to.
If complex, atmospheric Black Metal is what you're into, give "The Black Opera" a spin. You won't be disappointed.