(An old friend of the site, ElvisShotJFK, makes a guest appearance with this review of the first album in seven years from Italy’s Opera IX.)
Italy is home to a lot of great things – art, literature, food, and architecture are among the things worth checking out, as is Italy’s metal scene. The boot-shaped country is quite strong in the ways of power and progressive metal, but death and black metal bands can also be found. While they weren’t the first metal band to have a female singer, Opera IX were still one of the early bands to do so in the 90’s, forming before the likes of Nightwish, Theatre Of Tragedy, or Lacuna Coil. Unfortunately, Opera IX didn’t get the same kind of attention as their female-fronted peers. It’s not that Opera IX were too “brutal” to get noticed, but Cadaveria’s vocals probably made it hard for some people to get into when they could have the operatic vocals of Tarja or Liv or the soft, sometimes sweet voice of Cristina. That and the fact that Cadaveria also employs a raspy sort of growl, switching between the two in a song (although nowhere as extreme as Karyn Crisis’ bipolar voice).
A change in a band’s lineup is hardly a new thing, and bands can successfully transition from one singer to another, but few bands have actually gone from one gender to another; Arch Enemy, Dark Moor, and Cerebral Bore come to mind as ones who’ve undergone a vocal sex change, each with varying results. When Cadaveria left after The Black Opera (along with Flegias) to form her eponymous band (and later adding DyNAbyte to her musical résumé), Opera IX turned to M the Bard to take over vocals for the first entry of their witchcraft trilogy, Maleventum. Like his predecessor, the Bard also employs clean singing to complement his raspy vocals. Also like her, his cleans aren’t the highlight of his performance, while Cadaveria’s cleanly sung vocals seem to have gotten better over time, based on what I’ve heard from her. Fortunately, he’s in his better vocal element most of the time, which works for Opera IX’s musical direction.