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If there was a single album one could use to describe the sound and atmosphere of gothic metal, it would be Tristania's Beyond the Veil. Tristania has made it their business to compose masterful gothic metal, and indeed they continue to do so 'till this day, however Beyond the Veil proved both that former member Morten Velend was the mastermind behind the band, and that this was their all time peak.
Beyond the Veil opens up with a very somber and beautiful section by Vibeke Stene, presenting the listener with a sort of peace. This is short lived, as within moments the listener is assaulted with pounding drums and guitars making way for Velend's beastly vocals.
Those first two minutes are enough to bring forth a state of rapture as the rest of the album unfolds. From the ass-kicking riff on the opening of Aphelion, the soaring choir brought upon by Vibeke in A Sequel of Decay, the seductiveness of Opus Relinque, meandering melodies of Lethen River, a fantastic duo performance by Velend and Stene on Angia, and ...Of Ruins And A Red Nightfall, all finally closing off with more intensity and soaring male choirs on Heretique, Tristania demonstrates their mastery of all instruments and song structures.
Indeed, all instruments are played to their utmost potential, and arranged and composed perfectly. There aren't any sections that are drawn out too much. Choirs, vocals, riffs, slower instrumental sections, all are proportioned perfectly, never leaving an overplayed feeling, just satisfaction, except in one regard. I felt Vibeke could've played a bigger part in vocals throughout the album. Her voice is too fitting to only appear as much as it did.
Definite highlights include ...Of Ruins And A Red Nightfall, A Sequel of Decay, and Angina. I've gotten a fair amount of disagreement, but I feel Beyond the Veil, the opener, isn't up to par with the other songs. That's not to say it isn't wonderful, but when matched up with the other tracks it simply falls short. All in all though, the album is the quintessence of gothic metal. Tristania emerges on top with this display of musicianship. Anybody looking to get into the genre, or needs assurance that gothic metal isn't the red-headed step child of metal, should definitely get their hands on this one!