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Halfway Back to the Beginning - 90%

Sue, January 29th, 2008

Theatre of Tragedy began with two of the finest, purest examples of gothic metal there are. With Aegis came a softer but equally gothic sound and then in the minds of most of their fans, it all went wrong. Musique brought with it the horror suggested by their previous terrible remixes: The lords of gothic metal turned to electropop. Bad electropop. The lyrics abandoned olde english in favor of computer terms, the crunching guitars and classic drums were exchanged for synth bubblegum and the vocals left behind the operatic and beastly poetry for... I can't even say it. But with a new vocalist came a sort of renaissance: They did not return to their roots, but they remembered them.

Storm sounds directly between Aegis and Musique. There are electronic elements but they do not take over the album, they subtly enter the gothic foundation of the work to enhance it, to augment it. The lyrics are modern but the subjects are smarter and more heartfelt than computers and cities of the future. The new vocalist sounds little different from the former, and most importantly- The quality of their early years is back.

There is not a great deal of variety, there are some highs and lows but I imagine which songs are which varies from listener to listener. Instruments sound the same throughout and tonality shifts little from the softer to the harder works. So what does this sound like as a whole? It sounds like Aegis's younger, quirkier sister. It's not as dark or somber, it's more playfull and lighter. Keyboards interweave in a Smashing Pumpkins sort of way, that Adore era folksy sad tune that fits in so well with it's electronic counterpoint that you would think 1850s Norwegians had a copy of ProTools. There are no rough vocals, or truly operatic ones, but all the words are cleanly sung in the Aegis style, both relaxing and soothing, but strangely ominous.

No it's not Velvet Darkness, but what else is? (Tristania and Darkwell, thats what is) Had Storm come between Aegis and Musique chronologically the descent might have made more sense. Storm is not an album that apologizes for the techno years, and it's not a full return to the true gothic metal origins of a true gothic metal band, but it is as good as we can hope for, and on it's own merits Storm is a good catchy fun dark gothic metal album that warrants several spins, and a hunt for the bonus tracks and b-sides.