Opera IX - Anphisbena review
01. Many Moons Ago
02. The Serpent's Nemeton
03. The Prophecy
04. In Hoc Signo Sanguinis
05. Immortal Chant
06. Scell Lem Duibh
07. In The Sixth Tower
08. Battle Cry
10. One Rode To Asa Bay [Bathory cover]
One of the leaders of the symphonic black metal scene, the Italian band Opera IX, is back after a new line-up change and with a fifth album that will undoubtedly reinforce their supreme position. This new album, Anphisbena, shows the perfect balance between the rage of black metal and the atmospheres that only symphonic music can give.
To sum Anphisbena up in a few words, I'd say it is a travel through a day of merciless battle between bearded warriors wearing animal furs and horned helmets and armed with axes and swords. Let's take the example of the beginning of this album. The combo 'Many Moons Ago' - 'The Serpent's Nemeton' is one of the greatest openers I have heard this year, there is something majestic and mysterious to it, like the moment of calm before the battle, the moment in which both parts stand ready, pray their ancient pagan gods with fear in their hearts, waiting for the signal to attack. But once the fury is unleashed, there is no way out, the warriors have to fight relentlessly and recklessly until the earth is red of all the blood shed. Only when there is no foe left will the battle end. This is Anphisbena. The soundtrack to a day of fierce battle in ancient Nordic snowy moors that gets you in the guts and won't leave you be until the end. A fascinating experience through ages, a trip through paganism...
This new album by Opera IX has a very developed symphonic aspect enhanced by the use of lyric female backing vocals and traditional medieval instruments. This gives a martial side to this album, like on 'Battle Cry'. As far as atmospheres are concerned, Opera IX is quite similar to The Enchanted for example. With the difference that they are black metal, despite all these untr00nesses (for those who find that important) like having a great production and using keyboards and female vocals. Except for the delirious introduction of 'In Hoc Signo Sanguinis', full of flutes and other minstrel instruments, most of the songs here are battering pagan black hymns with cutting riffs and hateful screams. The result remains audible and really catchy, due to simple but effective riffs and great orchestrations (the keyboardist does a hell of a great job), such as the best two songs 'The Serpent's Nemeton' and 'In The Sixth Tower', or 'The Prophecy' and its Arabian tunes à la Prince Of Persia. On the other hand, some songs are less symphonic and more 'in your face', just like 'Immortal Chant' or the mid-tempo closer 'One Rode To Asa Bay' a beautiful song stamped with nostalgia.
We're getting to the end, only a few courageous souls still stand up, soon the pyres will burn the corpses away, and the survivors will feast and drink mead in the memory of their lost companions. No sadness in their eyes, only hope, for life is nothing but a transition, and death the beginning of a godlike life. Thank you Opera IX for this great journey and this great album. Now, where's my corpse paint, my bear fur and my sword, Thor, Odin and stuff, here I come!!
Highlights: The Serpent's Nemeton, Immortal Chant, In The Sixth Tower, One Rode To Asa Bay
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