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(Originally posted by me to the Metal Music Archives: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/)
An album as impressive as Nachthymnen is going to be tough to make a followup to, though Abigor did put enough work into Opus IV to give it a fighting chance. It features some pieces of Nachthymnen and some new pieces, but ultimately cannot give the same great experiences.
And the unfortunate thing is that Opus IV does everything it's supposed to do as an Abigor album. It has nice atmosphere and lots of layered riffs in a single song (about eight in "Eerie Constellation" and around seven in "Breath From Worlds Beyond"). The atmosphere, even with its best parts like "Spektrale Schattenlicter"'s acoustic work in the songs outro and "Crimson Horizons and Ashen Skies" where the atmosphere fits right with the song title, isn't really as strong as Nachthymnen's super mystical atmosphere. I dare say that some attempts to be atmospheric on Opus IV are even unwanted such as "The Elder God (My Dragon Magic"'s intrusive atmospheric interludes. I hate to say that because interludes would be fine if they went along with the song; but in this case, they're a little overdone. In "The Elder God", the song breaks at one point to play an acoustic interlude before returning to metal only to return to the same acoustic riff a minute later. Some time after, there's this crashing sound and Silenius shouting something. Perhaps I'm being nitpicky though. This song is otherwise perfectly fine. I just wish that it wasn't chopped up like this.
Production may be a banal thing to criticize in black metal, but Opus IV has one annoying aspect. The first four songs have production similar to Nachthymnen; but the latter four were mixed at a different date, and their production sounds not as good. It's not raw sounding; it just sounds like the music was recorded underwater. Apparently, Opus IV was originally supposed to be two separate demos called Horns Lurk Beyond the Stars and Blut Aus Aeonen so that would explain the contrast of production. Musically, it's still good, but the contrast of the production makes the album seem inconsistent. The album would be better if Abigor chose to mix all the songs to one type of sound, even if they were all underwater sounding.
As underwhelming to me as it is compared to Nachthymnen, I still enjoyed Opus IV. Sure the production inconsistency is a little annoying and there's a few things I'd change on certain songs, but the guitar and drum work is excellent and the use of acoustic instruments and keys great for the most part. A recommended listen for black metal fans.