Opera IX is one of the best underground Italian bands in black metal genre. In the past they released many dark epics as “Sacro Culto”, “Maleventum” and “The Black Opera” with a successful combination of black and gothic metal music. Nowadays, Opera IX are producing a pure sound and deal with lyrics on pagan ancestry. “Strix – Maledictae In Aeternum” proves that. The line-up didn’t change, except from the keyboardist. For the first time, the majestic atmosphere and orchestrations are missing from their music (but not the melodies), and the album reaches the limits of the raw black metal. It closes a concept of a witchcraft trilogy, which started with “Maleventum” and continued with “Anphisbena”. So, it is naturally for “Strix – Maledictae In Aeternum” to be characterized by occult atmosphere.

Personally, I found the first four songs, quite uninterested. “1313 (Eradicate The False Idols)” besides the heavy riffs, the grim vocals and the beautiful atmosphere, has a unregulated solo in the beginning, “Dead Tree Ballad” is a nice song though with majestic background music, but with only one or two nice riffs and the pedal in drums sounds rather annoying. The first part of “Vox In Rama” is like “1313” with similar guitar compositions without rhythm, but the second part is actually a very good song. The drumming is very fast and smashing and the guitar riffs are tied with the vocals and the background music. Its music compositions reminds a lot the past albums and made me to starting thinking that “Strix – Maledictae In Aeternum” isn’t eventually a bad album.

The really amazing stuff, begins from “Mandragora”. The tapping guitar as intro, prepares the listener for the song’s dark atmosphere, which culminates with the symphonic background music and the keyboards. Vocals are equally perfect and it also has very catchy riffs and the drum pedal doesn’t sound so much annoying here. Thankfully, Opera IX didn’t change so much their sound. It’s such a great song. Next track is “Eyes In The Wheel” and has, also, some symphonic points, like trumpets and keyboards. Guitar compositions are great here, too, and boosts extra melody. The songs are becoming greater and greater as the album continues to play. “Earth And Fire” can compare only with the early work. First of all we have an amazing majestic background with keyboards. The guitar riffs reveal a pure black metal style who is rotated with the keyboards. The flexible drumming gives without any losses the accurate rhythm and the result is a golden piece of music in not a very good album, in my opinion. Pretty the same is “Ecate”. But in this song the black metal riffs are more dominant than the orchestrations. I have to admit that Marco De Rossa does very good growls and the clean vocals in the middle of the song, give a taste of occultism appropriate for an album that deals with witchcraft. Opera IX seem not to have forgotten their previous albums. “Nemus Tempora Maleficarum” is close to the early stuff with one difference, the orchestrations are by wind instruments. This isn’t necessary bad, because they make the songs more glorious. There isn’t something special about this composition, but once again fits perfectly with the background music and in some way separates a six minute song and doesn’t make it boring. Last but not least is “Historia Nocturna” a great symphonic song that doesn’t have something of the usual Opera IX music from the early albums, but it’s amazing by itself because this innovation is successful in the end. The storm of riffs leaves its place for trumpets,pipes and vise versa. It’s incredible how tied is the music compositions with the vocals and the symphonic elements. If “Strix – Maledictae In Aeternum” had all of its tracks like the six last songs, probably would be a 10th grade album.

After 8 years, Opera IX released a quite lukewarm album. At the beginning, there are the new composed songs of Opera IX and I didn’t understand them very well. On the other hand, there are such brilliant songs like “Mandragora”, “Ecate” and “Historia Nocturna” who save this album in some way and it’s an honest attempt to connect their early music with some novelties. Although, “Strix – Maledictae In Aeternum” is a good work from the band, I’ll always have in my mind their early stuff.

Track List Line Up
01.  Strix – The Prologue (Intro)
02. 1313 (Eradicate The False Idols)
03. Dead Tree Ballad
04. Vox In Rama (Part 1)
05. Vox In Rama (Part 2)
06. Mandragora
07. Eyes In The Wheel
08. Earth And Fire
09. Ecate – The Ritual (Intro)
10. Ecate
11. Nemus Tempora Maleficarum
12. Historia Nocturna
M. – Vocals
Ossian – Guitar
Vlad – Bass
Dalamar – Drums

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