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Opera Diabolicus: +1614

Italian writer/theorist Umberto Eco's first novel, The Name of the Rose, is a historical murder mystery set in an Italian Monastery involving deceit, theological debate, and the Spanish Inquisition (who'd've expected that?). Having seen a stage adaptation in Gothenburg in 2006, composer/musician David Grimoire and lyricist Adrian de Crow saw the story as an intriguing idea to base a "theatrical and dark metal musical" on. Somewhere along the line, they must've changed their mind because Countess Elizabeth Bathory graces the cover and there's a song with her name for a title. +1614 (the year that the Countess died) is grand, overblown, and utterly ostentatious. It's dark, operatic, gothic, and kind of "mysterious" and there are musical passages throughout the album that are very impressive. The performances are excellent, the musicianship is remarkable, and the attempt to incorporate a storyline is admirable, but the high gloss that is the finished product is little more than style with absolutely no substance whatever. They've gone all out on the production (check out the video for 'Blood Countess Bathory') but this is just power metal pantomime. This is a valiant attempt to create whatever the hell it's supposed to be, but it falls far short of the mark. That is, if we're supposed to take it seriously, but six years is a long time to take to write a joke…

Track Listing:

  1. Overture
  2. The Gates
  3. Blood Countess Bathory
  4. The 13th Guest
  5. In Memoriam
  6. Mythos Lamia
  7. Forbidden
  8. Stone By Stone

Added: February 2nd 2012
Reviewer: Jason Guest
Related Link: Opera Diabolicus' website
Hits: 2088
Language: english

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Opera Diabolicus: +1614
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-02-02 16:53:33
My Score:

Have you ever wondered what King Diamond would sound like if he took his tongue out of his cheek and recorded an album full of earnest, theatrical lyrics and then tried to turn it all into a Broadway Musical? Well, no, neither had I. However after listening to +1614, from Opera Diabolicus, it would appear that rather unwittingly I have found the answer. That may all sound rather damning and dismissive, although I have to admit that having quite a lot of Mr. Diamond's output in my CD collection does rather put a different complexion on things. However while I'd like to think that The King is well aware that most of his output is over the top stuff that actually benefits from it not being taken 100% seriously, +1614 goes completely in the opposite direction, creating an atmospheric album that is brimming with bombastic riffs, theatrical and classical themes and every vocal style from falsetto to growls, but through its own earnestness fails at almost every twist and turn to actually enthral, or even entertain.

The concept behind the album is purportedly based on Umberto Eco's book The Name Of The Rose, although I can pick up very little of that from the lyrics myself and (to me anyway) this album misses the point of its own story. The music itself seems compromised by its need to leave space for spooky noises, theatrical groans and operatic bursts and while broad strokes of Queensryche, Kamelot and of course King Diamond (KD's guitarist Andy LaRocque produced and mixed the album while his drummer Snowy Shaw thunders behind the kit on it), as a whole the albums lacks for flow or focus. Shaw also sings some of the vocal parts on the album, being joined by Metal heavyweights Mats Leven, (Therion/Yngwie Malmsteen) and Niklas Isfeldt (Dream Evil), which to be fair does make for some impressive vocal interplay. However as with much else on the album, whether the singing actually all holds together with the music is another thing entirely.

There are undoubtedly some excellent performances and the odd interesting composition on +1614, however even after listening to this album ten or more times, none of it sticks in my mind and none of it makes me want to come back for more. Promising much and delivering little, Opera Diabolicus merely serve to show just how clever the likes of Therion, Arjen Lucassen, or Avantasia are when melding different vocal parts and musical ideas together, unfortunately leaving +1614 as a good idea that got lost in its execution.

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