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A real heartbreaker - 45%

doomknocker, February 14th, 2012

Bands who continue to keep on keepin' on well past any supposed "Best By:" date is worth noting, either due to their own tenacity or their ability to still be worth a listen now and then despite dropping off the radar. And this here Opera IX group is one such example. Not that what they'd been up to hasn’t been worth noting, it's just that there were many who had clamored to the group back in the day thanks to Miss Cadaveria standing on the front lines, and her departure seemed to have been met with a lack of focus and attention on her previous day job. Yet, the crew they bore, three times twelve in numbers, and when it came time for a new album to be summoned from the depths of the underworld, one of the most occult groups in this or any other black metal circle would oblige no matter who was left.

And it’s with that interest afoot that "Strix..." graced my stereo, ready for action...

The one thing I can still give the band even after all these years...they still have the capacity to generate a malevolent darkness with their musical meanderings. Who'd've thought that in this futuristic age there would still be at least one act that is capable of creating REAL black metal of the un-Orthodox and post- variety? Easily the biggest saving grace with this album, "Strix..." seems natural in its own musical right rather than having to force it out onto the listening public like so many newer acts accomplish (and fail, thusly), and in this case, the more realistic-style performance helps. What you get is what actually sounds like a band performing the material with only so much digital editing techniques (to put more in would no doubt result in a more fake-sounding overall product, something that kills the momentum of black metal albums these days), and to have that these days is pretty extraordinary.

The central musical theme is, as before, primarily based on death metally guitar riffs with a blackened aura, slightly-untriggered drums, keyboard ambience and gurgling/screaming witching rants, and while those are fine ingredients to have in your musical stew, for this there's plenty to be missed this time around. Things plod along at a slow-to-mid-pace tempo that helps create a churning crawl, but after so many minutes (and songs) of the same speed and sensation, you may end up craving something with a bit more speed, a bit more substance, a bit more SOMETHING ELSE (though occasionally a blast beating section will come at you. Occasionally…). There had been at least a few moments where I found my eyes wandering to the current song’s timer to see just how long it's been since it all started, and how much longer I had; with an average of about 5-6 minutes per track, I could use more than just a few riffs repeated with few variations of each. It's a shame that it had come down to this, 'cause truth be told, this was a record I'd looked forward to for quite a while, and while this isn't a complete bomb (it's not, despite my negative comments), I was still nonetheless disappointed by what "1313 (Eradicate the False Idols)", "Mandragora" and "Earth and Fire" had to offer to me upon the blood-painted pentagram.

So in the end, what could have been was not to be, and instead "Strix..." only serves to keep the Opera IX name afloat. Natural black beauty aside, there could have been more to the overall output, and as it stands, I may end up heading back to "The Black Opera" over this.