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Even though they started out during the heyday of Scandinavian Black Metal, the Swedish group OPHTHALAMIA never got close to achieving the recognition they deserved. Starting out as a side-project by IT of ABRUPTUM-fame, their first full-length, "A Journey In Darkness", featured none other than Jon Nödtveidt on vocals, in between recording the masterpieces "The Somberlain" and "Storm Of The Light's Bane" with his main band DISSECTION. Are you excited yet? You should be.
The lyrical concept of OPHTHALAMIA, as with most of their aspects, was something quite out of the ordinary. Telling tales of a fantasy world bearing the same name, this is not your standard Satanic Black Metal band. Musically, "A Journey In Darkness" sees the band combining a raw Black Metal sound with a groove that would fit just as well on a Stoner Doom album, while Jon Nödtveidt's characteristically vicious vocals supplements the darkness. Thus we have a unique mix that's difficult to classify without resorting to ridiculously contrived sub-genres like "Melodic Black Epic Stoner Doom". It's progressive without being too complex, the production is clean and even allows the bass to show-off, and they've managed to find the perfect balance between the melodic and the raw.
If you're new to the music of OPHTHALAMIA, "A Journey In Darkness" is as good a starting point as any, and should not be overlooked by anyone who likes their Black Metal with a side-order of Doom. It's about time that this project gets the attention it never achieved all those years ago, even though it will be a posthumous honor.
(Online July 3, 2009)
Written for the Metal Observer