"Red rose growing in the meadow,
You vaunt yourself bravely,
Bathed in crimson and carmine:
A rich and fragrant show.
But no: Being fair,
You too will be unhappy."
Juana Ines de la Cruz (1651-1695)
A poetic beginning to this review but one that has an abundance of relation with the creation of this opus. This poem inspired the title of the book that was, eventually, to be performed in Gothenburg 2006 to David Grimoire and Adrian De Crow. I must admit to you all that when I hear the word 'opera' and my eyes usually glaze over and my ears develop a new talent of closing over and awaiting the end.
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I have to say however I am so glad that this was not the case whilst listening to this album. On display here is a multitude of talented artists such as Grimoire, De Crow, Snowy Shaw (Notre Dame, King Diamond and Dimmu Borgir), Mats Leven (Krux, Yngwie Malmsteen) Niklas Isfeldt (Dream Evil) and Jake E. (Amaranthe) to name but a few. It's a genuine smorgasbord of talent that excites, delights and astounds the ear.
The opening, 'Overture', really ensnares the listener and holds you in tight rapture whilst the darkness washes over you. It truly sets the scene for the journey you are about to embark upon. Make no mistake reader, this is a dark album, drenched in metaphorical blood and awash with lyrics worthy of any dark literature enthusiast. Even before actually listening to the album you get the sense of what is about to come with such track titles as 'Blood Countess Bathory', 'The Gates', 'Mythos Lamia' and 'Forbidden'. Definitely engrossed at this point and all I had heard was the 'Overture' and read the insert.
On the 21st August, 1614 the most prolific (accused) female serial killer, Countess Elizabeth Bathory De Esced, finally died, four years after being bricked up in a set of rooms. This album has an extensive correlation to this historical figure, the subject of much controversy as to what attributed to her actions is legend and fact. One thing that is extensively attributed to her is that she bathed in the blood of young women in order to maintain her youthful countenance. Throughout the entire album there are many direct references to her and this is exquisitely delivered in every second of the works contained within.
'The Gates' is the first track to really showcase the multitude of talent on display. 'Onwards', the waves of blood soaked notes barrage the shores of your mind with unrelenting force that is welcomed with each and every line. Again I say that if you are a dark literature enthusiast, as I am, you will be able to reference many of the lines to Countess De Bathory. Instrumentally above reproach and the vocals are so perfectly delivered that this track held me transfixed and it has taken me five listens to be able to put into words what I feel about 'The Gates'.
'Onwards', their blood drenched homage to Countess De Bathory continues with such excellent examples of how dark Metal should be performed. Tracks such as 'In Memoriam' and 'Forbidden' really grasped me with their power and affected me quite deeply. That is not taking anything away from the rest of the album as I bloody loved it in its entirety; those tracks are just my own personal favourites.
This is an album that has to be experienced to be able to appreciate its sublime darkness and exquisitely performed artistry. I must admit I was quite blown away by the piece; it truly impressed me and I was a bit disappointed when it ended. Actually I'll take away the word 'quite' there and replace it with 'absolutely'! The team established on this album have produced a piece so dark and beautiful that I question whether they soaked the album in the blood of young women before release?
'Opera Diabolicus' is a fantastically dark, blood drenched, exquisitely performed and sensibly accomplished album. Unlike many of the allusions to legends and historical figures in the media to date, Grimoire and De Crow have stayed faithful to the tales of the past. They have not changed them to make a story more commercial but have adhered to them and created a work of pure genius.
Many fans of gothic literature will appreciate this and applaud them for this endeavour as too much has been Hollywoodised. I for one stand in ovation at the finale of this work.
Draw yourself a bath of blood, chuck it on the CD and immerse yourself in a dark beauty that enfolds you, excites you, delights you, disgusts you and, above all, enlightens you! A Faustian bargain must have been made as this is the opera Hell demands!