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Avoid at all costs - 5%

PrincipleOfEVIL, March 28th, 2011

Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate... Yes, forget everything you knew about Tristania before listening to this album. The new Tristania is here and as I feel relieved because the album has ended, I decide to write this review, to warn everyone foolish enough from listening to this album.

So, Vibeke Stene has left the band. Kjetil is not in it anymore and Veland has his own band. What have we here? Ah, the new album by Tristania. Wait! Tristania? They (used to) play true gothic metal, I am so thrilled to hear their latest piece of work and hear how they incorporated Mariangela into the band. I regret this decision now. As I told you at the beginning of the review, forget everything you knew about this band. I am surely not someone who is close-minded, nor someone who is mad about Vibeke Stene. No. I am all for experimentation, improvement, changes and evolution. Sadly, this album has nothing of this. Beside that, I am a very objective person. And in this review I shall be objective... I already hear naysayers claim ''It's Mariangela's fault!'', but they would be wrong, unless she composed this album. I don't know even where to start...

So, this is not gothic metal. There is 0% gothic influence here, despite all the elements involved: female vocals, harsh vocals, violins, keys, or whatever else you may associate with it. Furthermore, there is the sad truth that there is also 0% metal inflence on this album. No, this is a gothic rock album with a dominant punk influence, both in the vocal department, as well in the compositions. The only ''gothic'' elements found here are the somewhat ''dark'' lyrics, that have an edge to them and are well-written. Nor the gothic rock nor the punk influence are a bad thing per se. What makes this album so bad is the totally uninspired songwriting. There is no atmosphere, no flow nor any beauty behind this mess. I urge you to listen to the whole album and remember anything from it. I am sure you cannot, since there is nothing memorable about it. Guitars don't even play riffs, but some random notes, drums maintain the same flat rhythm that dulls everything, without any drive or power, it's like an introduction or break that never picks up into the song, nor the keys nor the violin do anything to alleviate the torture any casual listener endures. And we arrive at the vocals. If the above-mentioned instrumentation didn't make ring a bell in your mind, this will. Remember the wonderful vocals of Osten Bergoy and how they use to add an extra dimension to the whole music? This is gone. But, wait, he's still in the band. Yes, he is. Sadly. He's not even singing. Most of the time, he's reciting the lyrics over some guitar noise, and often it resembles rapping and makes me think of nu-metal and metalcore. Disgusting. Not that he had an outstanding singing talent, but the way his vocals were incorporated into the whole was pleasant to the ear. Now, it's not. Secondly, we have Mariangela Demurtas. I am not a Vibeke fanboy, let me repeat again, but I think her departure hurt this band to the point that messeems they shall never heal. It is obvious that Mariangela is not Vibeke, but it is also obvious that she is a capable singer and with her more aggressive style, which they could utilize to a much more effective extent, they wrote instead bland lines that no one would want remember and that require no skill to execute. There is no chemistry in the interplay of Mary and Osten, because, first, there's no interplay between them and the vocal lines are bland, unmemorable and devoid of any energy. True, in the chorus of ''Protection'', we see Mary belting the lyrics with conviction, but the overall conclusion is nobbut bitterness. She also shows that she can sing in a more ethereal and feminine way, but neither this vocal style is used, beside some scant and barely heard lines. She also can sing in a classical way, but this style was not used neither. We can hear some powerless harsh vocals as well, which appear at seemingly random places. And we have some ''thrash' styled male vocals as well, that are the most decent sounding (meaning least ear-shattering) of all of them, but appear for too short sequences, which makes them practically useless. We were witnesses of marvelous interplay of vocalists on previous releases, as well with their singing in unison. This album's dominant vocal style is all the vocalists singing together, but this was a bad decision. Were they all gone deaf or what? You cannot distinguish voices one from another in such passages, and as already said, the lines they sing are bland, mostly featuring a proto-melody that is usually recited or rapped by Osten, with Mary and co ''supporting'' him in the background. Their voices do not go well together and the final effect is an ear-shattering cacophony.

So, if you can bear to listen this album from start to finish and enjoy in it, you are either deaf, or devoid of any musical taste whatsoever. The direction Tristania is taking will surely furthermore hurt their already crumbled status, and not only because of the departure of Vibeke, nor because of Mary, since ''Illumination'' was already a very lacking album, but because of an utter lack of inspiration, vapid compositions without any purpose and the fact that they do not play metal anymore. I would surely not recommend this album to anyone, except to those that are masochistically inclined, or to those who like punk or nu-metal. But even to them, this vapid album would be a torture to go through. Forget about this album and get for example the new Sirenia. However commercionnal it is, it has good compositions and is gothic metal at least, or just listen to Widow's Weeds. I sincerely regret the 50:17 minutes I spend on listening this piece of worthlessness. Do not make the same mistake as I did.