They’ve been around for a couple of years now (more precisely 1988) and have undergone several changes already, still “Anphisbena” is my first ever contact with them: OPERA IX. After front lady Cadaveria embarked on her own path in 2001, the critics’ voices were loud and I approached the CD carefully, but after the first listen already any doubts were dispersed.
OPERA IX are announced as mix of Black, Death, Thrash and Doom Metal and as odd as this may read, as close they are close to the actual sound, if you add symphonic sounds, traditional Metal riffing and a shot of Folk. So it’s some sort of symphonic Extreme Metal that is celebrated for more than an hour and cannot really be described with words, you have to hear it to understand, because in the course of the album they are as varied as they are epic and if that was not enough already to win over the fan, they even add some female vocals, harp, cello, flute and Uileann pipes to crown the whole thing.
An excellent example for this is the brilliant “The Prophecy”, which emanates incredible dynamics, with changing rhythms, a ton of power, truly great riffing and female vocalization in the background, from brooding and intense to fat double-bass thunder and blast beats, a true epos! And right after “In Hor Signo Sanguinis“… At the beginning with a medieval sounding harp, then flute and evoking clear vocals and female guest singer before after two and a half minutes Metal comes in, still pretty epic, with comparable dynamics to the great song just before.
“Immortal Chant“ shows the Black Metal side, while “Scell Lem Duibh (Song Of Death)“ with its kettledrums and choirs remind me a bit of SKYFORGER before dying away with an acoustic guitar and harp. The cello at the beginning of eleven minute “Battle Cry” introduces a slow passage, which continues to utilize the instrument, sounds like pure Doom before the (symphonic) inferno is shot loose, but it wouldn’t be OPERA IX, if they would not vary the tempo and keep up the epic atmosphere. The title track combines M The Bard’s usual Black Metallic voice with clear vocals and at times very strong folky mood with flute and bagpipe, which conjures up memories of the big Irish bands. And at the very end they pay a felicitous tribute to the late Quorthon with a cover version of the classic “One Rode To Asa Bay“.
Some might condemn the quite strong keyboards, but they are an integral part of OPERA IX’ sound. And rarely a band lays down the law that strongly when tackling such a broad sound, very strong effort! (Online November 19, 2005)