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I can say without a doubt that Tristania is my favorite band of all time. Their debut, Widow's Weeds, is a hauntingly unique, darkly cold album. Beyond the Veil is the pinnacle of Gothic perfection. And then there is World of Glass, Ashes, and Illumination, each a powerful, extraordinary release with surprisingly little in common with it's predecessor.
Then, Tristania parts ways with its front-woman of over a decade, Vibeke Stene. And their male vocalist decides to call it quits. In addition to the singers, they lose a guitarist, a bassist, and a drummer after their 2007 release. Only two original members remain. Many fans were left with little faith in Tristania.
However, Rubicon hit like a storm. It is so incredibly different from anything before it, yet somehow, it seems to fit comfortably beneath the Tristania title. It is a strong contrast to it's predecessors, in that it has a modern, more "rocking" style, as opposed to the eerie, dark, sort of medieval atmosphere of the earlier albums. It, however, does share the single unifying factor of a Tristania release: its complexity.
Tristania albums are complex; Not so much in the technicality of the music, but the idea of it. There are "layers" to the music; it isn't standard in the Gothic Metal genre. The bulk of the genre is made up of shallow, basic music that is easy to listen to. Tristania is not. It takes a few listens to understand. Rubicon is no exception to this, and although it is, upon first listen, a huge departure from their old sound, it still feels very "Tristania-esque" once the listener becomes accustomed to it.
And, as I'm sure people wonder, Mariangela Demurtas, the new female singer of Tristania, neither adds nor subtracts from the music. When her identity was announced, fans either loved her or hated her. Admittedly, I was one of the latter. She seemed to fit into Tristania like a zebra fits into a lion's den. However, with this new style of music, her eccentric ways seem subdued, which is for the better. She is certainly present, and where she is she does a really nice job. She even has some shining moments here and there.
While Rubicon is by no means Tristania's best, it is an honest effort that long exceeded my expectations and the expectations of thousands of die-hard fans. It is distinctly different than any of their previous releases, but still has Tristania written all over it (figuratively speaking). I would highly recommend it to any fans of the genre, and even to people who are just looking for something a little different.