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Cadaveria - Shadow's Madame

Cadaveria - CD Review
Shadow's Madame

CD Info
Scarlet Records
7 Tracks
English lyrics

There was bound to be a dichotomy in the reaction to Cadaveria’s solo album after her departure from Opera IX. The trouble with black metal fans is that they don’t like too much variety. As long as it’s gloomy, satanic and as evil as is plausible there won’t be too many problems. The only band that spends much time engaging in thoughtful reveries rather than full-on unsullied blackness that I can think of are Opeth, and since the Norwegian ‘underground’ is gummed up with all manner of tuneless garbage, this is no bad thing. I suppose if the metal your country produces is generally shit, you’ll get a fair amount of publicity if your music is even just above average, so good luck to them. However, what’s surprising about Cadaveria is that in spite of the fact that they are making a name for themselves as a quality black metal outfit, they aren’t from the world centre of black metal at all, but from Italy. But then the Italians are slowly acquiring a reputation for producing quality metal. That doesn’t mean that the rest of the black metallers will necessarily like this album, though. Not one bit.

And the evidence is everywhere. The female vocalist Cadaveria left her previous band, Opera IX, after disagreements about things she hasn’t properly discussed with the music press [probably more down to journalists not being pushy enough rather than her being evasive when the topic is addressed]. Barely a few weeks later, she and Flegias from Opera IX were getting underway and writing new material for the new band, named after her. It would not be unfair to assume that the new stuff was in the same vein as the old, and to perfectly honest, it’s not a world apart, though lots of those ‘true’ black metal fans would have my guts for garters for saying that. What Cadaveria does show on this album more than on the old Opera IX releases is the versatility of her vocals. She can scream, wail, growl and grunt. She just can’t sing very well, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem.

In addition to this, The Shadow’s Madame ends up fusing a handful of different metal styles, but in doing so shamelessly and unfailingly throws itself off the black metal bandwagon. The core of the music and the topics of the music are still rooted in black metal, but it has its Death moments and its Gothic moments, though there aren’t that many of them. Occasionally we’re treated to the odd drum blast or some half-hearted sampled choirs pasted onto the end of a song, but the heart of the music is black, and it suits the album well, because it’s what these people naturally do best.

The thing that is the most impressive about this instrumentally is the heaviness of the guitars. I’m a sucker when it comes to really thick and chugging heavy guitars and Cadaveria more than dish out their fair share here. At times the power chords are so viscous and caustic that you can’t help but be sucked in and enveloped by the darkness of their sound. And that’s exactly what this is, heavy, dark and evil. Anything else just wouldn’t do. Spell, Black Glory and Circle Of Rebirth being particularly good, with some nice rhythm changes and Cadaveria giving her [self-proclaimed] best vocal performance to date.

But this album’s strength is also part of its problem. It focuses a little too much on the canine-loving witchy femme fatale and her vocals, rather than the music as a package. Sure, it’s good and it’s heavy, but in spite of the different styles it encompasses, it really could do with a little more variety. The Death and Gothic elements are present, but just alluded and nodded to rather than confidently integrated, which is a bit of a shame, the result being that it gets a little sludgy after a while when it really should do more for itself. The classical inspiration is here also [I thought the metal mirroring of Verdi at the beginning of Spell was a nice touch], and this lot are competent enough musicians to let that effect and direct their music in the future. If Cadaveria can develop the ideas on this album to a more successful degree in their next work, we’ll all be treated to something pretty special.