OPERA IX – An Eternal Malediction
Italian black metal outfit Opera IX inked an album contract with Displeased Records, a deal announced on September 27th, 2010. The group had last issued a studio full-length in November 2004 through Avantgarde Music, the full-length in question being fifth album proper Anphisbena. 2008 three-disc DVD set Mythology: XX Years Of Witchcraft sought to break the time between releases. On July 25th, 2011 however, it was publicly revealed that Opera IX had signed an album deal with Agonia Records.
“We sent a promo to Agonia Records, which we made a year ago,” explains Ossian, guitarist and founder of Opera IX. “Before Agonia we had signed with Displeased Records, but six months after signing Opera IX Displeased sent us an email telling us that they weren’t able to not only print the new album but all the albums by artists from their label. They had no money; they’re no longer a label, but only a distributor. It’s not normal for us, and it isn’t professional of Displeased. We sent a promo to Agonia Records, and they were interested. After three to four months we signed with Agonia. I think it’s a good label now, a very good label.”
Opera IX’s first studio album in almost seven years, the Latin title of Strix Maledictae In Aeternum roughly translates to Witch, An Eternal Malediction in English. In mythological books, strix is an eternal owl. “We didn’t release an album during this time because several things happened to the band,” the axeman reflects. “We have a change of line-up because Lunaris the old keyboard player split with us. There wasn’t a personal problem with him; he stopped playing music, had a job, and was a fragile character. He was a little too depressed for the black metal scene. Before choosing to partner with the new session keyboardist Alexandros, we tried different keyboard players. It made us lose a lot of time, so we did a triple DVD (2008’s Mythology: XX Years Of Witchcraft). We took a lot of time to select all the material for this DVD. And after we composed the new album, we tried to replace the previous record label.”
A more direct, less epic approach denotes Strix Maledictae In Aeternum. “I think the music is faster and more in-your-face, which is another evolution,” Ossian agrees. “It’s a very normal evolution, but people tell me ‘Ossian, when a band is younger it plays beastly but after ten years the music becomes more beautiful.’ For Opera IX though, the reverse is true (laughs). We started with beauty, and I think we’ve gone faster and more beastly because the concept of this album is darker – it’s very doomy and dark. This is important because we talked about magic, an old witch ritual, and I think it’s important to reflect this in the music. In some parts of this concept we talk about the Inquisition by the Christian church, and I think it’s best to explain this with typical character music; darkness and violence that is faster and more in-your-face.
“It’s less epic as well. I shaped the sound based on an ancient convent. You know the film The Name Of The Rose (1986)? It’s a very interesting film, and if you have the inclination to watch this film I think the atmosphere is very similar to the Strix album. It’s less epic because we used minor keyboards; the keyboards aren’t as present, which is different to Anphisbena. We composed Strix with a session keyboardist. In Italy we composed all of the album with real guitars, and afterwards with Alexandros we only needed a dark atmosphere.”
Cut at Occultum Studio in the fall of 2010 and beginning of 2011, the record concludes a ‘witchcraft trilogy’ which began with 2002’s Maleventum. “Maleventum speaks about witchcraft, and also analyses modern witchcraft,” the guitarist reveals. “Gerald Gardner – the founder of the Wiccan movement – visited the Italian cities of Pompeii and Benevento. Him and Ross Nichols – the founder of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids – are the founders of the new neo-pagan movement. The town Benevento is very important for magical suggestion, but in ancient times Benevento was named Maleventum. They had very obscure stories about witchcraft, and these are very, very dark stories. We started to speak about these symbols in Maleventum, and after Maleventum we composed Anphisbena. Anphisbena symbolises a two-headed serpent, and this is an ancient symbol used by witch Gods in the old Mediterranean land – northern Italy, southern Italy, Greece, and so on. Anphisbena speaks about old, ancient Pagan traditions that in the Middle Ages were transformed by witch Gods who demonised them. With Strix we have concluded this trilogy, the demonisation of ancient Pagan traditions.”
A music video was filmed for the compositon ‘Mandragora’. “‘Mandragora’ translates to ‘mandrake’ in English, which is a magical herb,” Ossian discloses. “The story talks about the typical medieval, Middle Ages legend of the herb. When you harvest this magical herb, there are stories; some are legends, but some are true. Last summer I was in Tuscany, and some people told me how to harvest this herb. The director of ‘Mandragora’’s music video is Dalamar our drummer, because Dalamar works in Italian television and this channel shows mystery programmes. He has directed the ‘Mandragora’ video with this typical character. I think it’s a good work, and I think it explains very well the general atmosphere of the album. It was filmed in a studio, and in some parts the woods near my house.”
Kris Verwimp handled artwork duties for Strix. “Kris Verwimp is a very big fan of Opera IX, so Kris asked me ‘Hey Ossian, I haven’t worked with Opera IX – why?,’” the founder chuckles. “This is a change for Opera IX, so I told Kris this would be the time for him to make artwork for an Opera IX album. I only sent him the text of ‘Mandragora’, and Kris interpreted my imagination very well.”
Strix Maledictae In Aeternum was released on January 24th, 2012 through Agonia Records.
Interview published in January 2012.
Related Posts via Categories
- AVENGED SEVENFOLD – As They Like It (January 2017) | Features / Interviews @ Metal Forces Magazine
- DEVILMENT – Waltzing Under The Thunder (November 2016) | Features / Interviews @ Metal Forces Magazine
- PHIL CAMPBELL AND THE BASTARD SONS – Taking Aim (November 2016) | Features / Interviews @ Metal Forces Magazine
- IN FLAMES – Underneath Their Skin (November 2016) | Features / Interviews @ Metal Forces Magazine
- HAMMERFALL – Hammering High (November 2016) | Features / Interviews @ Metal Forces Magazine
- GRAHAM BONNET BAND – The Next Chapter (November 2016) | Features / Interviews @ Metal Forces Magazine
- DEMON – Turning On The Magic (October 2016) | Features / Interviews @ Metal Forces Magazine
- TESTAMENT – Ruling The Den (October 2016) | Features / Interviews @ Metal Forces Magazine
- BRANT BJORK – Luvin’ Stoner Life (October 2016) | Features / Interviews @ Metal Forces Magazine
- OPERATION: MINDCRIME – Taking On The Music World (October 2016) | Features / Interviews @ Metal Forces Magazine