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Originally released in 1995, Ophthalamia went either under the radar or over the heads of most people around the time, possibly down to the fact that the music they created was just too different when compared to the band members other bands. Yes, Ophthalamia were somewhat of a Swedish super group, with Tony ‘IT’ Särkkä from Abruptum being the main mastermind behind the band and its lyrical topics which revolve around the fantasy world created by him, known as (surprise surprise) Ophthalamia.
Also featuring on this album in particular is former Edge of Sanity drummer Benny Larsson, former Marduk front man Legion and Emil Nödveidt of Swordmaster (brother of Dissection’s Jon Nödveidt, who himself appeared on Ophthalamia’s debut ‘A Journey into Darkness’). As I mentioned above, the music on show here is a world apart from the music created in any of the member’s main projects. Ophthalamia is just so… weird for want of a better word. They incorporate a hell of a lot into their sound, be it the long prog rock song arrangements, the strange, off kilter jazzy melodies or the sudden, angular Voivod styled riffs or touches of Sabbath here and there. These don’t always sit too well on the ear, especially when you consider the fact that it’s all being topped with Legion’s steel lung blasting. Let’s just say that it’d be a bit more than a push to try to tag this with any sort of musical genre label.
Having only heard the bands debut before this (which was an equally challenging listen), I’d have to say this is slightly the better of the two albums. With that said however, being brutally honest, a lot of the album is pretty damn patchy and just too out there for most people to wrap their heads around. There are certainly parts that are worthy of praise too (mostly the quirky folk parts they occasionally launch into I’d say), but it often comes off as a bit of a long, drawn-out jumble of styles and influences. It seems as if the band members wanted to live out their every guilty musical pleasure all at once (something they weren’t allowed to even dream of in their main projects).
With its downfalls outweighing the highlights, I wouldn’t recommend this even to the most ardent of supporters of any of the band member’s main projects. Ultimately, ‘Via Dolorosa’ will go down in history as a bloated, over-cooked musical affair that just doesn’t fulfil many requirements other than the band members own whims.
Originally written for www.metalteamuk.net