In the Scandinavian countries, two terms that can easily be used in the same sentence -- or at least the same paragraph -- are melodic death metal and symphonic black metal. The two styles aren't quite identical; for one thing, symphonic black metal vocalists tend to favor a high-pitched rasp, whereas in melodic death metal, one is more likely to hear a deep, guttural growl. But in both styles, headbangers have tried to avoid the limitations of death metal/black metal by coming up with something that is more melodic, intricate, and ambitious -- and it certainly isn't uncommon to find melodic death metal and symphonic black metal outfits appearing on the same bill at Nordic mosh concerts. One of those more intricate bands is Twilight Ophera, a symphonic black metal unit from Finland. For all its bombast and forcefulness, The End of the Halcyon Age isn't simply an exercise in brutality for the sake of brutality; rather, Twilight Ophera softens its blows by incorporating elements of power metal, progressive rock, and goth rock. Anyone who plays this 2004 release after listening to an amelodic grindcore disc will realize that there are major differences between what Twilight Ophera does and, say, early albums by Cannibal Corpse or Carcass. Even so, these Finns can pack a harsh, nasty punch, and some of that harshness comes from lead singer Mikko Häkkinen's sinister, ominous rasp. The Finnish vocalist has no problem sounding evil, which is exactly what this type of album calls for. Twilight Ophera isn't terribly distinctive -- plenty of other symphonic black metal bands have favored this type of sound in the Nordic countries -- but all things considered, The End of the Halcyon Age is a noteworthy, enjoyably decent example of the band's ability to be ferocious and relatively melodic at the same time.
The End of the Halcyon Age Review
by Alex Henderson