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While I really don't believe in 'guilty pleasures', some might remark that my adoration for a few of this band's previous, poppy works falls into that category. I thought Assembly was a prime example of pop meets gothic metal, with a slew of extremely catchy tracks. Before that, Aegis was my favorite release from Theatre of Tragedy, an album of elegies to various mythological females, well written, with Liv Kristine's unforgettable vocals (now lost with her poor post-ToT career choices).
Forever is the World is the band's 7th full-length album and the 2nd to feature new vocalist Nell Sigland. She's not quite the equal of Liv, but she tries, and her upper range creates a similar, elfin effect. Stylistically the band has found a cross-section of their earlier, gothic/doom metal and the poppish/industrial influence, and it's refreshing. Storm wasn't a bad release, but it dropped off my radar rather quickly. Forever is the World has more staying power, a mystique that snakes through tracks like "Revolution" and "Illusions". The band has not forsaken their potential for pop happiness on "Transition" or "Hollow", and they also reach back into their heavier past with "Frozen", what with Raymond resurrecting his old growls. Few of the songs are as catchy as the material on Aegis, or Assembly, or even Musique, but when taken as a whole the album does not offend.
'Don’t save the day it’s not over
We fall for better or worse
I can see the sparkling ice is breaking
I’ve seen you got a speck of dust in your eye
Act as if there’s no tomorrow'
The album sound superb, always a quality of ToT. Most of these tracks could be played on the radio instead of Rhianna and the Jonas Brothers and we'd all be the better for it. The lyrics are thankfully not so miserable. This isn't an outstanding album, but I'd dub it 'pleasant enough', and far from the petty fairy metal crap the European market is constantly spewing in the name of bad fashion. After all, this was one of the first bands to really make the female vocals work with gothic metal.
Rough vocals have returned! Where Storm took us back to Aegis while keeping some of the electropop elements, Forever is the World keeps the Storm sound while further integrating the Aegis soft-gothic metal tone, and one-ups it with a few hints of Velvet Darkness.
The result is darn good, though uneven. The first half of the album is a bit dull, but then halfway through track 5, we are treated to catchier, stronger music that doesn't let up until the Album ends. ToT also throws in some experiments, including a short song (Astray) that has a poetic, nearly rap influenced duet for vocals. The keyboards treat us to the same sort of sublime melodies that made Storm work so well, and the vocals are a welcome showcase for Sigland, who dominates the record to romantic effect.
Frozen is the finest track, a somber opus that matches the quality and mood of their first two albums. Illusions follows and this could have been recorded during the Aegis sessions, it sounds almost identical to Angelique. The last couple tracks round out the album with high quality melancholia. While not a true return to form, it continues the Storm trend in a good direction. It's a treat for anyone who dislikes their electronic era and prefers their early works, but it's new, it's different, and it doesn't just rehash their early style at a lower quality.
No tracks to skip, several to play on repeat (at the risk of depression). Recommended for any fan of Gothic Metal, critical for any fan of any part of Theatre of Tragedy.