If there’s one band that’s been criminally starved of attention, it’s German hostile miserabilists Ophis. I felt Effigies of Desolation, last year’s compilation reissue of the outfit’s first EP and album, would boost their profile and hopefully Abhorrence in Opulence (both Cyclone Empire), their latest supreme slab of deathly, funereal doom, will send that reputation soaring.
The early entrée of Asian chants cedes to the potentous thud of Nils Groth‘s cavernous drums and, when the tolling riffs are dropped in like manhole covers from the sky, the languorous yet ominous tone is set. Philip Kruppa‘s initial roar is a vile, scouring monster with the depth of the Marianas trench, whilst the sorrowful lead work at the two-third point of epic opener ‘Disquisition of the Burning’ hauls a warm yet desolate cocoon of misery to the close, curtailing a savage anger which never quite explodes into breakneck speed. It’s a crawling behemoth which embodies the Ophis sound perfectly.
The brooding ‘Among the Falling Stones’ tantalisingly swells and ebbs, some powerfully resonant and dictatorial stickwork joined by pulverising bass and riff sections; the whole magisterial in its funeral march section when a sparing lead builds into an affecting post-Black crescendo, eased to its demise by a heart-rending violin. The eerie ‘A Waltz Perverse’, though retaining the crushing force, possesses a slight technical air and strange rhythms reflecting the title, while the slithering hostility of ‘Somnolent Despondency’ is by turns oppressive then violent in its power.
A masterpiece of darkness and misery, the track’s middle section is brutally onerous, the drums creating a pounding intensity while desolate, delicately-picked leads and a howling solo send shivers down the spine, only increased by the single bark and seabed-deep scours undercutting them. Thunderous double kicks drive the mournful, murderous closer ‘Resurrectum’ to its wonderfully depressing end complete with resigned, despairing roars and intonations, through to an explosive and blasphemous finale.
The despair and emotion positively bleeds from every pore of this colossal album, a stunning powerhouse from a band growing in capability and maturity. You’ll bathe in the luscious suffocation of its unbearable weight and power.