Hollenthon - Opus Magnum
Napalm Records
Symphonic Melodeath
8 songs (46:10)
Release year: 2008
Hollenthon, Napalm Records
Reviewed by James

Despite forming in 1994, Opus Magnum is only the third album from Austrian symphonic deathsters Hollenthon, and it's seven years away from it's predecessor With Vilest Of Worms To Dwell. I'd heard comparisons with Japanese mentalists Sigh, particularly their skin-flaying 2007 album Hangman's Hymn, so naturally my interest was piqued.

The comparison isn't as firm as I'd have thought though. Although vocalist Martin Schirenc sounds remarkably similar to Mirai Kawashima, that's pretty much where the similarities end. First off the bat, this is nowhere near as brutal as Hangman's Hymn. Whereas Sigh used the strings and choirs to add further power to the epic bombast of that album, Hollenthon use them to add an extra melodic flourish towards the music. Instead of augmenting the guitars, the orchestral elements do completely their own thing, being every bit as important to the music as the riffs. There are still moments of high drama, the rushing string intro to On The Wings Of A Dove getting the album off to a suitably exciting start, announcing that Hollenthon are back and have lost none of their power.

Even without the symphonic elements this record would still stand up. The album is stuffed with riffs, the band having a slight touch of Opeth to them, particularly on proggy closer Mysterium Babel. Less symphonic tracks such as the martial sounding Son Of Perdition still have enough going on to keep the listener interested. The band move away from western classical entirelu at points, with both aforementioned tracks utilizing eastern melodies and instrumentation to impressive, if slightly cheesy effect.

But it's when the band employ both aspects of there sound in equal measure that the album really shines. The galloping Ars Moriendi is both as brutal and symphonic as the band get, and it's a real standout track, sounding like demonic legions storming the gates of Heaven. The backing choral vocals on Once We Were Kings add even more emotion and drama to the piece without it threatening to become over the top.

It's not entirely perfect, some songs are a little forgettable, and female vocalist Elena Shirenc does not sound good, to be brutally frank. But, how many bands come back after a seven-year absence and still produce something enjoyable and relevant? Hollenthon are most certainly one of them. Opus Magnum is well-written, heavy and melodic. Let's just hope they don't take seven years with the next one.

Killing Songs :
On The Wings Of A Dove, Son Of Perdition, Ars Moriendi
James quoted 86 / 100
Other albums by Hollenthon that we have reviewed:
Hollenthon - With Vilest Of Worms To Dwell reviewed by Danny and quoted 97 / 100
2 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 4 replies to this review. Last one on Mon Jun 23, 2008 7:47 pm
View and Post comments