Ophthalamia

Picture of Ophthalamia

Via Dolorosa

Ophthalamia - Via Dolorosa ©1995 Century Black
1. Intro; Under Ophthalamian Skies/To The Benighted
2. Black As Sin, Pale As Death/Autumn Whispers
3. After A Releasing Death/Castle Of No Repair (part II)
4. Slowly Passing The Frostlands/A Winterlands Tear
5. Via Dolorosa/My Springdales Sacrifice
6. Ophthalamia/The Eternal Walk (part III)
7. Nightfall Of Mother Earth/Summer Distress
8. Outro; Message To Those After Me/Death Embrace Me (Part II)
9. A Lonely Ceremony/The Eternal Walk
10. Deathcrush

The most notable and amusing thing about Via Dolorosa on a whole is quite possibly the the little threat given to Varg Vikernes in the liner notes (Ophthalamia promises they will "get" him...I sense a Jenny Jones episode in the making and with luck she'll give the band members a makeover). After all, the lumbering, directionless doom-black metal crossover music isn't going to bring much noteriety to the band's cause. Ophthalamia, at least on this particular CD, is comprised of members of various black and death metal bands, including Edge of Sanity and Abruptum. But don't make that get you into a tizzy, running around in little spiral patterns screaming, "Mommy, mommy, I need an advance on my allowance to get Via Dolorosa!" Trust me. While competently executed, the entire album on a whole lacks the power to really grip me. Sure, Legion screams heartily throughout and the guitar lines loop all around like any good gloomy album should. But the album is more a testament of stagnation, rather than a journey. In fact, the masochistic might find it an endurance test to see how far into the album they go before stopping the disc to find something else.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/1999

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Dominion

Ophthalamia - Dominion ©1998 House Of Kicks/No Fashion
1. Elishia’s Mistresses Gather
2. Time For War
3. Final Hour Of Joy
4. Great Are The Deeds Of Death
5. Eclipse Of Life (The Eternal Walk IV)
6. A Black Rainbow Rising (Castle Of No Repair III)
7. Dominion
8. Legacy Of The True (Death Embrace Me III)

Anyone familiar with Ophthalamia’s Via Dolorosa would expect its successor, Dominion, to include much of the same lonely guitar sound. This, however, just isn’t the case. Dominion offers a much more fleshed-out instrumentation. The guitar riffs are a great deal more song-oriented than in their last release. Actually, a few parts of this CD have a warm, galloping Viking feel to them. Whatever it was the guitars did in Via Dolorosa, they’re usually not doing it here.The vocals are your basic black metal scream for the most part, but “clean” vocals do make an appearance in both the opening and closing mellow tracks. They are also used in the background at various other times throughout the album.

Two of my friends have borrowed this album from me, and hated it. One said she didn’t know why; the other told me the drumming made it unlistenable. While personally, I have no reason to absolutely detest this disc, I see his point. Whoever drums should be beaten over the head with every single one of his cymbals. And then have them taken away. His tendency to sit and ping the hi-hat is distracting,and gives the impression of a very small, very annoying gnat flying about in one of your speakers. Sometimes, he breaks out into an inappropriate masturbatory bass drum (and hi-hat) flurry, one that does nothing for the music. In the most annoying song on the CD, "Time For War", he falls off the beat several times, and I become more interested in urging him to catch up, than in actually listening to the song.

Included in the booklet, the lyrics are modeled after Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. There is nothing special about them; most of the words are just typical “ride to war, kill some people, commit evil deeds, wallow in guilt” type things that don’t do justice to the play. There probably wasn’t actually a point in printing the lyrics, since I can understand most of them without the book. Besides, they’re better when I have to guess, because then they’re not quite as dumb as the real ones. I have a big problem with the liner notes in general, because there are numerous misspellings. While I can half-forgive the author, as the band is Swedish, there are also so many printing errors it makes people like me shake with rage. In fact, the first verse of the title track, as printed in the insert, isn’t present in the song it’s supposed to be. That missing part of number eight is present in song number five (which, if the book is to be believed, is titled "IEclipse of Life"). The last verse of "IEclipse of Life" is nowhere on the disc, or if it is, I’ve missed it. As far as I can tell (the booklet isn’t helpful at all), the band members haven’t changed a great deal, although nowhere does it say who plays what. They have all retained their oh-so-creepy names (It, Bone, Night, and a mysterious fourth), and for a few laughs, check out their band photo in the middle.

The disc includes eight tracks, and clocks in at just under thirty-nine minutes. Trust me, this isn’t too short. The songs all seem to know when to end, with the exception of "Time For War", which makes me angry because it could be chopped in half quite effectively. Dominion is produced by the band, and engineered by the excellent Peter Tägtgren.

All persnicketiness aside, I enjoy listening to this album occasionally. It’s not to be put on as something to use up all your attention, but as background music, or fall-asleep music (if you choose to fall asleep to black metal), it’s just fine.

Review by C. LeRoux

Review date: 03/2000

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