Opera IX – Back to Sepulcro (2015)

Opera IXBack to Sepulcro (Dusktone, 01 November 2015)

 

This year marks three full decades since guitarist Ossian started Opera IX in Biella (Piedmont region, in the foothills of the Italian Alps). The band has put out an extensive discography in thirty years, and undergone numerous line-up changes, as they gradually morphed into the titans of occult black metal they would become known as.

One major shake-up occurred back in 2014 with a wholesale replacement of the entire band (other than its founder), including the departure of bassist Vlad who had been around since very early on, and vocalist of the previous decade-plus M. the Bard (who sadly departed permanently late last year).

With a brand-new ensemble — including M:A Fog (drums), Alessandro Muscio (keyboard), Scùrs (bass) and Abigail Dianaria (vocals) — in tow, Ossian proceeded to put together an album (in late 2015) that featured brand-new recordings of several songs from Opera IX albums past.

In today’s post we’ll check out Back to Sepulcro — as well as discussing what the band has been up to since that time. (Spoiler alert: a new album anticipated later this year, plus an appearance at MDF later this month!)

 

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Tau Cross – Tau Cross (2015)

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Tau CrossTau Cross (Relapse Records, 19 May 2015)

 

Hello, and happy Easter Monday! Today’s kind of an ugly, rainy day here in Pittsburgh, so I guess it’s not such a bad thing that I’m stuck at work. Maybe the weather is nicer where you live, and maybe you don’t have to work because maybe in your country today is an official holiday — folks many parts of the world will be celebrating the beginning of Eastertide. In either case, I’d like to talk about an album that was released almost a year ago — actually, it was during the last week before Pentecost, the conclusion of the Eastertide season.

That album is the self-titled debut of crust-post-punk supergroup Tau Cross, whose name comes from the T-shaped symbol of the Franciscan Monks, based on the Greek letter Τ (Tau). In traditional symbolism, this letter is used to represent the cross, since ταυ is an abbreviation for the word Σταυρός (Stavros, which means “Cross”), and because the letter itself is cross-shaped. As such, the Tau symbol has also come to stand for Resurrection, and by extension, is closely associated with Jesus — nearly as much as the letter Χ (Chi).

Anyway, that’s surely enough of a history lesson for today, let’s get to the music! As an added bonus (for those who live in the northeastern U.S. — which includes Pittsburgh! — or southeastern Canada), scroll down to the comments section to find details about the band’s trip across the region which starts tomorrow night and runs for about a week and a half — their first live performances ever!

 

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Musk Ox – Woodfall (2014)

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Musk OxWoodfall (self-released, 17 June 2014)

 

Earlier this week I wrote about the current Agalloch North American tour, which began last night. In that post, I made mention of the fact that when the tour hits Ottawa on the third of July, the band would be joined by an acoustic group called Musk Ox. Led by guitarist Nathanaël Larochette (who contributed some interlude music to the recently-released Agalloch album The Serpent & the Sphere), and also consisting of cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne and violinist Evan Runge, this instrumental trio has just released an album of their own, earlier this week.

The second full-length album under the Musk Ox name, Woodfall is the first to feature this particular line-up (the 2007 self-titled release was exclusively a solo project featuring Larochette on all instruments). This new album contains one continuous piece of music (over an hour in length), which was composed by Larochette and Weinroth-Browne. The larger piece is broken into five named sections; three of these (part 1 “Earthrise,” part 2 “Windswept,” and part 4 “Above the Clouds”) run around ten minutes long, while the other two (part 3 “Arcanum” and part 5 “Serenade the Constellations”) each exceed seventeen. On the whole, I find Woodfall fascinating for both its beauty and its simplicity, and I suspect many of you out there will feel the same way.

 

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