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This is OK album, quite interesting, but it's hard to say it's outstanding. It's doom metal under the obvious Candlemass influence, but with a huge gothic esotheria thing going on, and also with small dose of black metal. Sounds interesting? Maybe, but there are a lot of flaws. Sure, whole concept behind this album was quite groundbreaking during the mid 90s, but I don't think it survived the test of time, despite it's originality. Surely, this isn't a timeless classic such as old Candlemass - lot of things here suggest that it was just a matter of zeitgeist and thus is - passe.
This is combination of doom and dark metal, and such bands always had that tendency of getting cheesy or way too pretentious. However, this is among few better representations of such style. The album have very convincing medieval atmosphere, and it's structure is surely made to invoke such vibe (lots of acoustic interludes, keyboards, gregorian chants, low-pitched "monk" vocals etc.). Generally, Tristitia is typical Candlemass meets The Sisters Of Mercy thing and they did it more interesting than the Paradise Lost releases with such formula, but a lot weaker than their countrymates Stillborn. Distorted riffs are obviously borrowed form Candlemass, but unfortunately, doesn't sound very inspiring. Tristitia did much better job with clean guitar parts in songs here. Acoustic interludes are OK too.
Production is clean and a bit uninteresting, but the weakest part of the album is drumming. It's very generic and quite boring, but moreover, it sounds a bit synthetic, which suggest that production for this album wasn't very fitting in a way of how it was done. Combination of clean, low-pitched vocals and screams doesn't work here sometimes. Clean vocals are interesting, but the screams are a bit out of place and get the atmosphere ruined. OK, combination of these obviousy suggest some kind of dialogue going on, but it gets a bit cheesy at some points. Thomas Karlsson did awesome job with these screamy, dirty vocals later with speed metal legends Devil Lee Rot, but these weren't really good in Tristitia.
Lyrics aren't bad, but nothing special. Medieval Christianity is the main theme of the album, and I remember how this album confused some people back in 90s thinking that Tristitia was some kind of "unblack" metal, because they didn't got the subtle sarcasm and the theatricity and didn't realize how it was actually very Anti-Christian. However, I wish that lyrics were a little bit neutral (not pro-Christian, of course), deeper and much focused on spirituality.
I had this on dubbed tape back in the 90s and it was quite so-so, but enjoyable listen for me. Few years ago, I got a used CD copy for just 2 euros and I'm happy with it. So, if you see it at your local used-CD bins and bargains, get it. Otherwise, I don't think it's worth spending 10 euros or more. Maybe their next releases are better and more recommendable, but I haven't heard them yet.
Standout tracks are probably Hymn Of Lunacy and Dance Of Selenities.
Norway has created a few classic doom metal bands, the primary one being Funeral. However there is a side of the Norwegian doom sound that is tied to the feeling of bands like Storm and some of the Isengard songs, Tristitia represents this side of Norwegian doom perfectly. It features many classical acoustic guitar pieces that will remind some listeners of Ulver's acoustic work. The actual metal tracks are what makes me think of Storm. Slow folky riffs, with primarily deep clean singing, some use of keyboards, and a touch of black metal vocals. Basically a big inspiration from Candlemass, etc. except with a anti-christian lyrical theme and a more Norwegian folk influence.
The general feeling on here is not as slow and depressive as much doom metal, it is much more driving, but with an often beautiful medievalist sense of atmosphere. This is obvious in the use of female choir vocals, and like I said the touches of keyboards. The folkier riffs as well help to make this much more medieval then much other doom metal bands in a similar Candlemass direction.
Despite wearing it's influences on its sleeve, this recording has some good things to recommend it. If for nothing else but the classical acoustic pieces, this album is draped in a very good dark atmosphere of dark castles, forests covered with snow and deep depressive caverns.
If you like Storm and Isengard this is highly suggested, or this kind of folkish traditional doom with medieval elements. A cool fairly original and very forgotten band, and worth some money if you're a doom fanatic.
"...in the name of the Lord, nail them high for the cause..."
At the time when I received this as a promo for issue 41 of my zine from Holy Records, then one of my favorite European labels, I had considered my mother a somewhat unwittingly hardened listener to heavy/extreme/obscure music, having wrestled through my stages with early stuff like Venom and Hellhammer and into the '90s with Bolt Thrower and Sinister. I knew she clandestinely heard everything I was listening to right up until I moved out in the winter of '95. In odd times, she would even offer interpretations and opinions when she heard something that caught her fancy (for instance, The Gathering's Mandylion). Most of the time she said nothing, but even she popped her head into my bedroom during the second track and asked me if Hercules was singing.
Vocalist Thomas Karlsson is the possessor of one of the most distinctive voices in metal, interchanging between a sinister snarl worthy of his black metal origins and a majestic, richly deep-toned baritone usually only mythological beings would summon. It's these intonations that ordain the downtrodden, almost cabalistic timbre that truly could be a din for some proposed doomsday. Doom-laden soundscapes swirl in the somberness of acoustics, otherworldly keyboards, yearning cello, and the odd gothic overtone the vocals dwell in, hanging portraits of the grandiose throughout the walls of these eleven tracks.
"Sorrow", the acoustic preamble, is shattered by the unexpected nobility "Kiss the Crown" bellows, meanwhile saintly female soprano is continually woven into the abstract fabric this trio have created. Heavy doom is a prime factor in this affair, presiding over "Winds of Sacrifice", "Ashes of the Witch", "Dancing Souls", and "Dance of the Selenites" while "Adagio 1809" and "Burn the Witch" wade in the non-electric serenity "Sorrow" swims in. Actually moving faster than a stone golem is the somewhat up-tempo, yet sad-hued "Hymn of Lunacy", one of its kind on this lp. Keyboards are an illustrious partner to the doom, building atmosphere where there would only be the plod of riffs, and the album would bear a much different face and would be woefully generic. Amateurs to morose ambiance this three piece is not.
As an avant-garde production, One With Darkness will not be embraced as easily as most releases, which includes doom endeavors, but then most releases don't simply radiate something either diverse or special either. A sound to be heard, cultivated, and judged.