CD Reviews

Opera Diabolicus - '1614' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     June 09, 2012    
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A fine, theatrical slab of dark metal.

Opera Diabolicus is a doom/dark metal project from instrumentalist/composer David Grimoire (music), and bass player Adrian De Crow (lyrics). King Diamond drummer Snowy Shaw agreed to join and assisted with recruiting singers like Mats Leven, (Yngwie Malmsteen), Niklas Isfeldt, (Dream Evil), Jake E, (Amaranthe) and Camilla Alisander-Ason. Keyboardist Elias Holmlid, (Dragonforce), choral arranger Jonas Heidgert and guitarist Eric Rauti, (Dreamland) were also brought onboard.

This collaboration is well named; with its diverse singers pitching in at various times, this feels much more like a theatrical show than a band album. ‘Blood Countess Bathory’ is a 9 minute epic that tells of the infamous Countess Elizabeth Bathory de Ecsed who allegedly murdered and bathed in the blood of young girls. A crushing progression kicks things off before a mixture of death growls and gravelly male vocals begin. Ason portrays Bathory with her vocals played out over mellower sections inserted around a thrash/death like riff and roared/screamed male vocals. A gothic choir provides depth before a very catchy melody in the chorus. ‘The 13th Guest’ finds operatic female vocals and nightmare like growls backed by the orchestra before firing off into a thrash like gallop. The chorus has a colossal riff ro which you just can’t help but headbang. The longest song is the sinister sounding first main track ‘The Gates’. It increases throughout in intensity and foreboding with a huge distorted riff and gothic choirs over orchestral segments. This just shades ‘Bathory’ as the best track. To add to the theatrical effect ‘1614’ includes a gothic overture to open the album and a further two minute instrumental interlude.

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This is an excellent album assuming you are into the heavier end of the metal spectrum. There are clearly a lot of influences at work but it should appeal to fans of Dimmu Borgir, King Diamond, Therion and Candlemass. However it takes plenty of spins to hear everything and individual songs are not generally memorable as a whole but particular riff/vocal moments permeate the consciousness. Each of the different singers plays a role with styles ranging from clean male/female vocals to gravelly singing to ghoulish death roars. As schizophrenic as it may seem, each has its place and it all does work and mesh together. Musically, the riffs are massive and exceedingly well played whilst the rhythm section provides an intense pounding foundation. The crisp production is first rate which is quite an accomplishment with such a busy piece of work. If there is a knock on this release, it’s that the riffs taken from the different genres are fairly samey each time and some might find things a little repetitive.

Those into the heavier genres of metal should find this an enjoyable and bombastic listen, but fans into more melodic metal and rock may find this too overpowering, oppressive and heavy. ‘1614’ is a fine, theatrical slab of dark metal that should attract plenty of metal lovers to its haunting sound.

Dave Scott

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