Spanish black metal band Ouija started in 1994 and released a demo as Levial and 1997’s Riding Into the Funeral Path full length before breaking up only a short while later. Over a decade later, the vocalist and one of the guitarists reformed the group and started working on new material. 2010’s Adversary was the first taste of what this new incarnation of Ouija had to offer, and now they have put together their sophomore full length Ave Voluptatis Carnis. It’s the type of melodic black metal that perfectly balances melody and intensity with plenty of standout guitar leads, and while there are a couple of similar sounding moments the strong production values and writing make this album worth experiencing.
I reviewed Adversary back in 2010 and found that out of its four songs, two of them really grabbed me and the other two came and went without making an impact. Thankfully the two tracks that I found to be the strongest are the ones that Ouija has chosen to rework and include on this album along with six new songs. One of the biggest changes between this release and Adversary is the jump in production values, as there is an increased level of clarity to the material and enough space between the instruments to really allow the listener the opportunity to focus on each one. But even with the more modern sounding recording, there is still a perfect balance between the melodic and harsh elements of Ouija’s music. When they up the tempo and blast away at the listener, this band is just as intense as one could want from a black metal act but they also have stunning atmosphere and melodic passages that stick with you. It’s a familiar combination for anyone that has explored the melodic side of this genre, but the instrumentals pull it off extremely well. There are a few songs where the structures start to sound just a bit similar and it wasn’t quite as easy to tell them apart, but the strength of the rest of the album outweighs this issue.
Ave Voluptatis Carnis caught my attention early on, as the opening track “Lord’s Prayer” starts off with a gruffer clean pitch that occasionally heads into distorted territory. It’s a bit of an immediate change from the high shrieks that often dominate this style, although there are some higher pitches that are added into the mix after this point. There’s a considerable amount of variation to the performance, and the shift from clean to harsh styles on tracks like “Adversary” and “Magma” kept me coming back to these particular pieces. The vocals are often the most prominent element as they have been mixed to tower over the instrumentals, so it certainly helps that they’re able to provide an intense and dynamic performance that suits the band’s overall sound perfectly.
Ouija’s definitely come back in a big way with this release. Adversary was good, but the band has made a pretty big jump forward in production values and written even stronger hooks. Although there are still a few sections where their ideas start to feel a bit too close to one another, Ave Voluptatis Carnis remains a top notch effort that anyone into black metal’s melodically oriented variants will want to check out. Hopefully this incarnation of the band sticks around, as they’re one of the better ones currently playing this particular style.
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