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Tristania's first album without Vibeke is the first one I would consider as disappointing. After listening to the first track, I actually stopped it and put it back on the shelf. However, I decided to try listening to it again lately, and I realised it was not half as bad as I thought it was.
Don't get me wrong, the album in general is more punk rock than metal. Even the way the tracks are structured and...well...the music overall. If I had to compare it to Tristania's past albums, this would get a figure very close to 0 or 10. However, judged on its own, it's actually not a bad album after all (though far from great). It just needs to be listened to without comparison to older Tristania.
The music, although slightly in the veins of "Illumination", is too punk rock like for me. The keyboards are very cheesy (just listen to the first few seconds of the album) and the guitar riffs are way too boring and dragging. There isn't a single song which still has the Tristania heaviness (that which thankfully "Illumination" still kept). There was clearly no effort made to "keep in touch" with the old Tristania sound. However, some violins (like those present in "Amnesia") were a nice unexpected touch.
The vocals here aren't my favourite, but I guess they're not so bad. Mary is no Vibeke, but she's not so bad. The clean male vocals are given more importance than they did in the previous album, which is not a good thing. Even though Mary's vocals aren't that good, I'd take them over the clean male vocals any time. Then, the "harsh" vocals are just silly in my opinion. One of things I hated the most is that quite a few times, the female and male vocals are heard simultaneously, which makes the album "less metal" than it already is.
Despite the cons of this album, it's still enjoyable at the end of the day. There is no song which falls below the overall level of the album. It's not the direction I hoped Tristania would take, but it's still decent for what it is. Tracks which appeal to me more than others are "Patriot Games" and "Illumination".