Here at the Sleeping Village, we keep our most revered albums in....a very special place. Their time may have gone, but they are certainly not forgotten. Today's pick: another one of The Voiceless Apparition's all-time favorites. Read on!
Written by: The Voiceless Apparition
Part III of my retrospective review series! Today's review is brought to you by the highly underrated Italian black metal band Opera IX and their second studio album entitled Sacro Culto, released on April 18th, 1998, on Shiver Records. This album marked an evolution in the band's sound compared to their first album, bringing in more elements of doom metal, gothic metal, classical, and small hints of folk, while still retaining their black metal roots. Does this extension of the bands sound work in their favor? Let's dive in.
Right off the bat, opening track "The Oak" swings out the gate and beats you over the head with a barrage of brutal and heavy riffs, but there's also a strong emphasis on the keyboards being a major part of the band, as they are implemented throughout Sacro Culto as a whole. This song is pretty pummeling the whole way through and serves as a teaser to what's to come, but without showing too much. Followup "Fronds of the Ancient Walnut" is a beast of a track. While still being brutal, there is a lot more atmospheric compared to the previous song. The stars of this song are the riffs, and the keyboards/piano. They really complement each other so well, the guitar riffs/tone are so heavy and the keys are so pretty and spacious and gothic--all told, it really mixes well together. This is a definite highlight on the album.
"The Naked and the Dance" is the shortest song on the album, at 8 minutes and 20 seconds, but doesn't pack any less of a punch. The first half of this song is a ritual folk song complete with chants, acoustic guitars, etc, I love how descriptive the lyrics are on this album. The first line in the song says so much with so little: "The fresh humidity of the green moss wets my skin/my body laying down, as it suits to who adores a god". Musically this song is great too. The riffs in this song are a little bit more melodic and catchy but fear not, it's still a crushing song. "Cimmeries" is a much more grand and epic song as there is prevalent use of choir vocals, and it's a lot more big and dynamic in comparison. This song isn't particularly fast but it's also not really slow, it hits a nice balance. There's a particular riff towards the 7 minute mark that I need to point out because it is devastatingly heavy, it rips my head off every time I hear it.
"My Devotion" begins on an extremely atmospheric note when we are greeted by bells/windchimes, gorgeous acoustic guitar, and soothing keys. I'd say this is probably the most doomed-out song on the album, as the riffs are quite slow and sludgy, but with occasional bursts of fast sections. The vocals of Cadaveria stand out on this song, as her clean vocals are dramatic, and her growls are vicious. This song is an absolute mammoth, clocking in at 14 minutes and 59 seconds. It stands as a crowning achievement in Opera IX's catalogue. "Under the Sign of the Red Dragon" is the closing track and begins with a really nice bass lick before bursting into an atmospheric doom riff with beautiful keys accompanying it. This song has such a nice groove, it's paced so well that you just can't help but headbang to it. All-in-all: a really strong ending to this album.
With Sacro Culto, Opera IX set themselves apart from most other black metal bands. This album is proof that you can still take risks and evolve, but while keeping your roots intact and that's the problem some bands have. Some bands either take too big or too little of risks, and in turn end up either alienating their fan-base or only pleasing certain people. Highly recommended!
Opera IX - Sacro Culto was released in 1998 via Shiver Records
Opera IX can be found:
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry.
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