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Informed, Varied & Interesting, by an Undisputed Master of His Craft - 100%

skarpethinn, February 8th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2004, CD, Koch International Poland

Other reviews of this album have failed to address the main hallmark of this album: the VERY large repertoire of what could be called "covers" that are woven through this whole album (16, to be precise), from Mike Oldfield's 'Tubular Bells' (AKA "The Exorcist theme"), through classical pieces by Horst ('The Planets'), Mussorgsky ('Night on Bare Mountain'), and a slew of others, to the Black Sabbath cover at the end.

This use of so much classical "cover material" in this album is an important element to consider because A) it constitutes a considerable portion of the track-time on the album, & B) dictates quite a lot of the theme and atmosphere of the album, the "original" material (read: "the rock/metal stuff") quite often taking it's cue from the classical/cover elements.

The classical songs used were clearly quite specifically chosen by Snider & Co for the similarities in theme to the story on the album, and are, quite bluntly, brilliantly and seamlessly integrated into the overall sound of the album - after multiple listens, i still detect no point during proceedings where the switch from classical to rock is jarring, breaks the illusion, or feels "tacked on," like it can in the cases of so many Symphonic Metal bands who (try to) utilise an orchestral element.

Any claims that 'Oculus Infernum' "sounds awfully familiar...like you've heard some other rock opera bands" or that it "just does not go far enough into the thematic territory it so wishes to capitulate towards, and settles for far too many generic thrills" - or laments on "just how many times ... I need to hear re-interpretations of the Halloween tune or the opera staple "Carmin Burana? - completely miss the point of what Snider was trying to do with this album. i for one do not feel like this was another re-hashed use of "the Halloween tune or the opera staple "Carmin Burana"" (in fact, the Halloween them is not used at all - one imagines a younger listener getting mixed up with the 'Exorcist' theme).

Do not pay attention to any comparisons made to 'Music From 'The Elder' by KISS (most/all of which was original material with a classical bent, as opposed to 'Oculus..', which is, basically, 50% original rock 50% classical covers).

Don't get me wrong - this album is not breaking any new ground, or moving into any uncharted territory, but if that is what you are expecting from Dee Snider, then you are woefully misinformed about who he is and what he does. To me, this album is a brilliant chirascuro of rock and classical, and while there are a couple of near-cringeworthy elements in Snider's narration, it is overall classic Snider, delivered with the larger-than-life aplomb he is known for.

For albums in the Halloween corner of thematic music, neither KISS, King Diamond, nor Alice Cooper have ever done anything like this; they all have "halloween themed" albums, but not like this (i am a fan of all 3 of these bands/singers, and am VERY WELL versed in their entire catalogues).

i don't think this project had "such a brief shelf life" because it was "too obvious and uninteresting," i just think that A) this type of thing has a fairly niche audience, and it was/is a little misunderstood by most mainstream listeners (to whom it is most decidedly NOT directed).