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Opera IX

Anphisbena

Format: CD   Release Date: 04/25/2006
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When female lead vocalist Cadaveria left Opera IX and formed her own band (also called Cadaveria), some fans of the Italian outfit were worried. Cadaveria did her part to make Opera IX one of the more unusual bands in symphonic black metal, which -- like the death metal/black metal field in general -- is very male-dominated. There have been other death metal and black metal units that had female singers (including France's Hypnosis and Italy's Lifend), but they are definitely the exception instead of the rule. How well would Opera IX fare without Cadaveria, fans wondered? But while her departure was a major loss for Opera, it was by no means a fatal blow. Recorded in 2004, Anphisbena finds a post-Cadaveria lineup -- M the Bard on lead vocals, founder Ossian on guitar, Lunaris on keyboards, Vlad on bass, and Dalamar on drums -- getting along nicely. It's important to remember that Opera is Ossian's band; he founded an early lineup back in 1988 (before they were symphonic black metal and before Cadaveria came on board), and he's no dummy. Opera continues in the symphonic black metal style on Anphisbena, incorporating elements of goth rock and medieval music and providing material that is forceful, loud, and intense yet melodic and intricate. The most extreme thing about Anphisbena is M the Bard's lead vocals; his rasp is over-the-top and downright sinister. Nonetheless, this 66-minute CD is highly musical, and Anphisbena is not an exercise in bombast for the sake of bombast; that is true on Opera's original material (which dominates the album) as well as a memorable cover of Bathory's "One Road to Asa Bay." Anphisbena isn't Opera IX's best or most essential release, but it's a respectable addition to their catalog and demonstrates that there is indeed life after Cadaveria for the Italian headbangers. ~ Alex Henderson, Rovi

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