Recorded and mixed at PKM Studio, Italy in August and September 1994. “Born in the grave” taken from The Triumph of Death EP, recorded and mixed at PKM Studio in May 1993. “Rhymes about dying stones” originally featured on Demo 92, recorded and mixed in November 1993.
All songs produced by Opera IX. Engineered by Paolo Baltaro. Remastered at Massive Arts in March 2001.
Remastered edition released on Peaceville Records, 2009.
If you’re not particularly keen on black metal then this could be a long experience for you listening to this album. The first song is over 18 minutes long, tracks 3 and 5 are 11:06 and 13:39 respectively. If it turns out I don’t like Opera IX, I realised, then it’s going to be an even longer ordeal for me as I have to more albums of theirs to review after this one.
The album begins gradually with strange ambient noises—the usual cliches: animals, screams, moans and groans. The opening lyric isn’t entirely hopeful:
Everlasting oblivion of tears falling into the dust.
I want to die.
The production isn’t great on this album. The drums sound a bit like a bag of spanners being shaken, and during the first track there is an overdubbed piano tinkling at various points that sounds a bit out of place until around 3:30 the piano takes the fore and reassures us that it was all part of the plan.
With such lengthy songs it’s inevitable that this album has quite a progressive feel; can you imagine nearly 19 minutes of verse/chorus/verse/chorus?!
The introduction to “Sepulcro” (track 5) is a welcome break from the onslaught of the previous tracks. Discordant clean arpeggios, padding keyboards and melodic bass runs leads to the inevitable stomp onto the distortion pedal, and the vocals flip between barking and singing, but it’s probably my favourite track on the album.
I understand that Opera IX have quite a cult following, particularly in Italy. This album just doesn’t connect with me terribly. While I wouldn’t go as far as “eternal suffering”, I think it’s safe to say that I might feel called by a different wood.
I have a further two albums to listen to Sacro Culto (1998) and The Black Opera: Symphoniae Mysteriorum in Laudem Tenebrarum (2000). I’m intrigued to find out how those compare with this debut album from Opera IX.
Review score: 55%