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Paul Chain Violet Theatre > Opera 4th > Reviews
Paul Chain Violet Theatre - Opera 4th

Troll Level: Expert - 75%

Twisted_Psychology, May 20th, 2019

Paul Chain may be one of the biggest weirdos in the doom scene at large, but I would hardly accuse him of trolling. His tendency to jump between various genres over the course of his career was likely inspired by whatever he was interested in at a given time, seemingly operating in a bubble without worrying about the thoughts of those observing him. I feel like an exception could be made for Opera 4th, the second full-length album released under his Violet Theatre banner, as its two halves reach horrifying heights of stylistic dissonance.

The album’s most domineering half manifests in “Our Solitude (Birth, Life, Death),” a half hour excursion of keyboard ambiance. A Goblin-style horror score approach like this was nothing new for Chain but thirty minutes of it proves to be an extreme exercise of patience. Atmosphere is omnipresent but actual direction seems indecipherable as dynamic shifts occur at random and none of the melodies achieve much beyond vague discomfort. Perhaps it’s more effective with the right visuals in mind and one must consider the likely improvised method behind it, but a shorter runtime or broken up segments would’ve worked greatly in its favor.

But just when you’re ready to dismiss the whole album as self-indulgent bullshit, the second half ends up offering some fantastic classic metal. The creepy Mercyful Fate-style chugs help “Evil Metal: Obscurity of Error” live up to that bitchin’ title, “Bath Chair’s Mary” lapses into a classic doom grind with a rather catchy chorus to boot, and “Resurrection in Christ” makes for a more uplifting, subdued closer. The tracks are certainly welcome but one ends up wondering why Chain was holding out on us all this time.

Opera 4th would make for a stellar Detaching from Satan-style EP if it had only included the last three songs, but such a release would miss the madness that only Paul Chain could provide. The half hour keyboard suite is easily construed as directionless filler, but I get the feeling that Chain put a lot of effort into it and likely viewed it as the album’s centerpiece. Such a move is artistically bold but in terms of actual listening value, I’d recommend putting the B side on first and listening to the A side at your own discretion. There are better glimpses into the Paul Chain menagerie out there, but this album makes for a particularly fascinating case study.

Highlights:
“Evil Metal: Obscurity of Error”
“Bath Chair’s Mary”
“Resurrection in Christ”