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Sad and Pretty and Altogether Grand - 95%

Sue, January 29th, 2008

This is a quieter kind of music than Theatre's first two works. The rough vocals are gone, replaced by a crooning gentle lullaby. Liv's sweet voice sounds much the same, but is now backed by a slower, sadder melody. And such melody- Wagner flirted with such melancholy but never let it take over as they have here: Here there is nothing hard or overtly metallic to distract you from the simple sad elegance of the songs. And they are songs, not strange works of art like Velvet Darkness and the debut- This is much more normal, often akin to rock or alternative gothic.

We begin with the long Cassandra, a poem from a teen sensibility (That's teen as in Romeo and Juliet, not teen as in the pimply things) that waits a long time to introduce it's counterpoint but does so effectively, with gentle buildup and crushing melody. The album progresses through three more tracks before it peaks with the powerfull, deep, dark Siren. This is a grand work more akin to a movie score by John Williams than Velvet Darkness. And it is followed by two more flawless tracks of subtle power, smart shifts in pace and mood, gathering themselves in sultry melody and building up to orgasmic (Poppæa) bursts of power, riffs and chords of strength and focus that quickly rest back in their puddles. The album flows so naturally it's over before you know you've passed it's depths, it is subtle compared to their early work but not so subtle that one could deride its presence: The album has a sort of effect like watching a good eprformance in a devastating movie. You feel the pain behind it. Then Bacchante ends the album with a boring track I tend to skip, but hey, it can't all be highlights.

This is a one time swansong from a band who having made the highest peaks of gothic metal, would soon turn into some sort of industrial creature. They would eventually return part way to the beauty and power of Aegis with Storm, but for a long time this album was the end of all things beautifull in Norway, where Tristania would soon make it's mark, and where churches were so cleverly built from flammable materials.