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This is a very neat album. Everything is almost precisely written. While most of the songs are rather enjoyable, some quickly fade into anonymity. Nell Sigland took over the beauty side of vocal duties, pairing up her contrasting yodell with that of Raymond's ageing bark. Once you get over the first track, everything seems to fall into place. But there is still a big piece of puzzle missing from the entire picture.
For the first time ever, we hear Raymond singing the word 'motherfucker' in 'Hide and Seek'. Although it is to be expected, strangely enough I find this to be rather odd. The melody flows like morning mist across your windshield. Soft. Cold to the touch. The female vocals, while sounding quite androgynously nasal in nature, are still hauntingly beautiful, particularly in tracks like 'Frozen' and 'Hollow', where Nell effectively yearns for the higher note on the register.
The guitars are quite lubricated on this record. Unlike its bombastic predecessor 'Storm', the riff is generally simplistic, alternating between heavy strumming and alternate pickings. Again, the song 'Hollow' embodies some of the best sounds that is generously enjoyable. There won't be any 'And When He Falleth' or 'Siren' here, but Theatre of Tragedy makes up for the lost times with arduous melody wrapped around a heart so heavy that it leaves you gasping for air. If anything, the synthesizer is used a lot more here than in 'Storm' but majority of the effects are quite unimpressive. Of all the songs, 'Astray' is the weakest in terms of structure and approach. I can understand that they are trying to cannibalize what's left of the electronic components used in 'Musique' and 'Assembly.' But the eventual result speaks for itself. Nothing more than a track put together from salvaged, discarded materials. The type of product that not even your bottom-feeding club DJs would want to lay their hands on.
They have resigned to the fact that they are unable to repeat past glories, let alone relive them. They are not apt at reinventing the wheel either. What we have here is an overproduced album, otherwise packed full of sparsely memorable tunes. 'Illusions' resembles nothing that Theatre of Tragedy has written before. Despite being one of those generic songs, 'Illusions' is able to sustain my interest long enough for its beauty to sink in.
Concluding the journey is the title track. 'Forever is the World' is somewhat a somber closure. Despite its overall optimistic sound, performed live this track is a very moving experience as evident in their final concert 'Last Curtain Call'. When Nell speaks before the audience, saying "this is our last song", you know some tears will be shed. In itself, this song is averagely entertaining. Of course, the most unforgettable part is the ending. The heart-warming piano turns even the toughest men into mush.
Quite an enjoyable record if you have been following Theatre of Tragedy from the ground up. Don't expect anything revolutionary. It is sad to see them go but I think that's the best thing that needs to be done. I can't imagine listening to another album from this band, only to end up disappointed once more. Either way, I shall express my gratitude and much respect to Theatre of Tragedy for writing some of the greatest songs in the history of heavy metal. Farewell.
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.