Opera IX - Strix Maledictae In Aeternum
Italian black metal pagans Opera IX are hardly the swiftest of writers; even accounting for terminal issues with record labels in the run up to release, Strix Maledictae In Aeternum is merely their sixth album in nearly a quarter of a century and comes at the end of an eight year wait for fans. By virtue of predating the seminal Norwegian scene of twenty years ago, the blend of 80s metal and synth-laden symphonics sounds refreshingly different and delightfully retro in a genre that is notoriously derivative and sycophantic.
Strix Maledictae In Aeternum does suffer from its protracted length, at times winding itself into pointless repetitive loops which nullifies the ferocity of the music in fairly short order. But largely, Opera IX create an unsettling, heavy wall of sound that will scare off the uninitiated as lovers of the dark stuff appreciate what they have produced; that is, right up until the final minutes of the closing track 'Historia Nocturna' where they unleash the more horrific use of bagpipes heard anywhere, the out of tune, rhythm-less screech ending the piece on the worst possible note.