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Worthy of the Pagan kings - 85%

Imperialtroll, February 22nd, 2012

After eight years, Opera IX are back with their sixth full length “Strix - Maledictae in Aeternum”. Their approach has obviously changed since the departure of Cadaveria; they have become more involved in black metal and their Gothic touch has vanished with the albums Maleventum and Anphisbena.

This record has gone more symphonic and more depending on keyboards and piano pieces, which is a double edged dagger, especially for a black metal record, which is to be explained later.

Opera IX has always been able to capture that evil, unhallowed touch, which is more obvious in this record. The vague chants in the intro “Strix The Prologue” and later in “1313 (Eradicate The False Idols)” they give a very dark, medieval touch that the band has always been famous of, it just appears in a different form with every record.

The lead guitars are mostly more dominant at the beginning of the record, and the rhythm guitars start to appear more and more; simple riffing but in many ways buried under the heavy use of synths which is not a good thing, but in the case here it gives the record more obscure, evil, Pagan touches and an experience of witchcraft under the moon.

The vocals, Performed by “M” has also become deeper but rather worn out, there is a use of spoken vocals such as in the end of the song “Earth and Fire”. The other intro “Ecate-The Ritual” uses spoken whispers and some bizarre chants that give a dark feeling and even scary at a point, with a wise use of keyboard that is perfect for the atmosphere of the “ritual”.

The drums are very well performed, they give, along with the rhythm guitars, a royal and evil feeling such as the song “Dead Tree Ballad” which takes you by the atmosphere to the courts of ancient pagan kings.

This record is different from the previous ones for the simple riffs, heavy doses of keyboard and piano pieces, gloomy lead guitar bridges and evil chants, it is truly well worth the wait, it’s been a long time since I heard a record so magical and capturing as this one. I highly recommend it for fans of Pagan black metal in general. You will be taken on a magical journey through the gleam of the nocturnal kingdoms.