Twilight Ophera
The End of Halcyon Age

So Gothicized symphonic black metal has been done to death right? Bands like Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth and Old Mans Child have essentially set the bar for others to follow, and follow they have-in droves. Graveworm, Apostasy, Ninnumaum, Agathodaimon, Chthonic, Tidfall, and too many others to name have all delivered their own takes on the well produced, epic sound. So enter Finland’s Twilight Ophera with their grandiose take on black metal; oodles of atmospheric synths and strings overflowing with theatrical imagery and a glossy production. The problem is, while this is a far from bad album, it’s just so paint by numbers, with little to give it any label other than a Cradle of Filth/Dimmu clone, albeit a decent one.

Each part of TO’s sound is a part of a toddler’s rudimentary 5 piece puzzle that fits together with little thought; raspy black metal vocals? Epic orchestration? Satanic/Sinister imagery? Clean galloping riffs? The occasional clean vocal interlude? Got them all, and in the puzzle they go, with little challenge at all. For a veteran band (members include denizens from Soulgrind and Gloomy Grim) with two albums under their bullet belt already (Shadows Embrace the Dark, 1998 and Midnight Horror, 2001 Cacophonous), I’d expect a little more development. From the haunting opening passage of “Chaosworm,” to the sobering closure of “The Paragon of Pregnant Night,” the album is purely and superficially all too familiar.

That’s not to say there’s not a few enjoyable moments as TO do have some artistic skill, even if it’s more tracing over an existing image skillfully rather than creating their own piece of work. The opening salvo of “Trapped in Husk of a White Crow” has some rousing synths, but still, they reek of Dimmu Borgir. Some solid clean power metal vocals surface (“The End of Halcyon Age,” “Pseudogods,” “Leperthrone”) and they do add some Finnish sounding spice to the more Norwegian sounding proceedings, but otherwise, vocalist Mikko Hakkinen has a standard evil rasp with an occasional lower register growl, totally expected. Also expected are the frequent majestic slowdowns and breaks that litter the songs, the best of which arise during “Pseudogods” and “Leperthrone,” in no small part to the distinguished clean vocals. The loquaciously named “Gothic Prelude of Capricious Equanimity,” “Cruciferous Lunacy” and “Paragon of Pregnant Night” round out the album with little or no real effect on my being other than being adeptly played and produced.

I understand metal lost its originality eons ago, but Twilight Ophera are about eight years too late to be garnering praise for an album that by today’s standards sounds incredibly tired despite its overall polish. If you’re a fan still basking in the nostalgic glory of Enthrone Darkness Triumphant or think Old Man’s Child are varied and unique, this may be for you, but personally I think the genre has long peaked, and TO only come across as a shadow of the genre’s classics no matter how hard they try.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
April 13th, 2003


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