New Jersey technical death metal extraordinaire act Ophidius are back with their new album: “The Way of the Voice“! Drawing inspiration from The Elder Scrolls world, specifically Skyrim, you get a sense of adventure and wonder while listening to their music. Ophidius is instrumental only, which is funny considering the name of the album, but the music displayed on The Way of the Voice paints a grand picture with each song. The compositions, solos, drumming and even the production is top tier work. Melodies that cast out like spells, tempo changes that mend back and forth like battle on the fields between Rorikstead and Whiterun, cascading musicianship of riffs and drum work that melt my face everytime I listen to it, as if Alduin flew by and roasted me as I listened to the enchanting tunes that I hear on The Way of the Voice….it’s all so perfect.
This album bleeds musicianship and lore, Ophidius bringing everything they can to this album and it’s a wonderful musical ride. Even if you are not into Skyrim, the writing on here is so engaging and fun to listen to. If it’s not high energy metal that progresses into a great display of storytelling then it’s the cinematic quality of the orchestral moments and layers of sound that you’ll find on these songs. It’s magical, it’s diverse and it’s masterful.
The album opens up with “Overture: 4E 201”, which is the fourth era and third century of when the Skyrim story takes place and it sets up the album just as if you booted up the game. The high king is slain, the Nords have engaged in a civil war and the land is divided (Imperials and Stormcloaks) and Alduin the World-Eater has returned to end the world as they know it. This flows into the true opening track of the release: “The Calling”, which is guitar wizardry for 7:45 straight. Bringing forth furious riffs and drumming that are of AAA quality.
“Seven Thousand Steps” is a reference to the games climb up the side of The Throat of the World, which is the highest mountain in all of Tamriel. The music portrays this climb as you explore the longest song on the album. The orchestral and calm moment in the middle of the song is a nice breather, as the intense metal drives on the rest of the song ending it stronger than it began. The next song “Fo Sivaas”, which is Frost Beast in the dragon language Dovahzul, excels at being another musical wonder as technical death metal and orchestral atmosphere come together. There is a huge focus on melody as well as just fierce crushing riffs as the solo at the 3:34 mark just rips.
“Sky Above, Voice Within” takes a step back and focuses on a more melodic and acoustic approach on music. There is a serene orchestral atmosphere on this track that is just glorious, it would fit perfectly within the games soundtrack. Very emotional and touching writing on this one. The soft and calm music drifts into the song “The Way of the Voice” and keeps things mellow until the 1:28 mark where the band re-enters blissful metal territory! 6+ minutes of divine guitar work and exquisite drum work pummels my ears, and especially pay attention to the solo entering at 5:17, as the notes played flow really well with the rhythm and orchestral background. A wonderful wall of sound exists on the entire play through of The Way of the Voice and it’s something you need to listen to, immediately. Lastly, the album finishes with a rather beautiful and somber orchestral outro. Fin.
Wow. Just wow. Bravo to these guys for not only putting out a phenomenal album but doing it themselves, no kickstarters, no record labels and nothing at all but their own drive, dedication and hard work. This release far exceeded my expectations as to what this was going to be (the orchestral atmosphere was really huge) and the end result is a very satisfying experience of musical grandeur. Like I mentioned above, you don’t need to be into Skyrim to appreciate the kind of work and musicianship that is found on here. These guys nail it song after song with no vocals at all. Instrumentally wonderful, Ophidius is something special. These guys have their album up for free on Bandcamp so you have no reason or excuse to miss this one. Go listen to The Way of the Voice. Now.
Release Date: October 14th, 2016
Favorite Tracks: All of them.