Paul Chain Violet Theatre - 4th Opera [Minotauro Records - 2010]This Italian project were one of the more distinctive & creative doom/rock/metal bands to appear from the European music scene of the 1980’s. And it’s fair to say that 4th Opera- the bands second & last second album, saw the band at their most experimental. The album original appeared in 1987, and this CD reissue from 2010 appeared on Minotauro Records.
This reissue features the albums original four tracks, along with four more unreleased tracks from the same period. Unlike the other Minotauro reissues of PCVF’s back catalogue- this doesn’t come in a mini LP sleeve, but instead comes in the form of a jewel case that features a card slip case.
Opening up the album (in a very daring manner) we have the lengthy just over half-an-hour runtime of “Our Solitude (Birth, Life, Death)”. This track is purely instrumental affair - save for some moody whispers & effect engulfed vocal noises. It’s built around a mainly simmering & brooding mix of often angular church organ runs, shifting layers late 80’s keyboard work- either in the form of synthetic semi jazz bound string work, spacey sails & whoppers, and a few more melodic passages. All of this is topped with a few swoops & eerier trails of effects, and towards the end a few minimal & clear experimental guitars are also added to the pot. For the most part the track unfolds in a very un-melodic, angular, edgy instrumental manner- it feels very lose & jam like in it’s feel & unfold, sure it’s very moody though at times it does feel a bit too lose & noodling for it’s own good. Goodness knows what some unsuspecting metal/rock fan of the 80’s would have made of this when it first came out- I guess shocked & very possibly put off from the rest of the record. All in all the tracks certainly an interesting & quirkily experimental edition to the bands out-put. I can’t say the whole runtime works as at times you really feel like the band are stretching out minimal ideas far too thin, but it does have it’s effective moments, and as moody ( not concentrating on it too much) jam craft this is ok.
Track two returns to fairly more normal doom/ rock territory with the “Evil Metal: Obscurity Of Error”. The track is mainly a chugging & fairly pacey slice of doom that comes in around just over the four minute mark. The main thing that sets it apart from the normal doom fare of the time is Mr Chain’s vocals,which on this track sound like a mix between higher register Thomas Gabriel Warrior meets goth art punk wails. Added around these we have semi out of tune & wavering male backing vocals appearing around the chorus, tolling bell effects, and a slight off the rails feel.
Track three comes in the form of the bizarrely named “Bath-Chair’s Marys”, and this nearing nine minute affair moves from sleazed & plodding doom rock, synth swooping blues rock jamming, and a few more stripped back moments with clear guitar riff & a great music box end. And of course the whole thing is topped of with Mr Chain ‘s vocals, which this time do sound a little more repetitive ( as he chants the title over & over), but he does have some great over the top moments too.
Lastly (of the original albums tracks) we have “ Ressurrection In Christ”, and I guess you’d say this was the most commercial track of the lot. As it finds Mr Chain singing in a fairly conventional manner(at times he almost sounds like Glen Danzig at his more subdued)- over the top of a fairly laid back yet dramatic pop rock backing, which has some nice groovy organ rises in it.
So next we move onto the bonus tracks, and first of these is the just under eight & a half minutes of “Time Of Live”- this is basically another instrumental track, and this time it's a sort of solo keyboard jam- with a main melody played/jammed over & over with a mix of piano & simmering keyboard settings. It’s ok for the first minute or so, but after this is just seems a little ham-fisted & very indulgent. The last three tracks come in the form of “3 organ parts 1-3”, and these two to three minute tracks are what the title suggests just a series of waving church organ work-outs. Again the first few minutes of the first track is ok, but after this is just feels like un-needed organ scale recordings.
I certainly can say this is not the most consistent of this projects releases, yet there are some moments of effective experimentation going on here, and the three more conventional songs are all rewarding. This is defiantly not the album to start your travels into the work of PCVF, but if you’ve already tasted some and fancied hearing what the project more experimental side sounds like this worth a look.Roger Batty