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Tres Bien, Tres Bien... - 80%

HanSathanas, October 29th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2009, CD, Metal Mind Productions (Limited edition, Digipak, Remastered)

Not bad. That’s exactly the thought that came to my mind when I first listened to Assembly. With drastic change of sound, our beloved Gothic lords have changed direction as a follow up to their shocking transformation on ‘Musique’, my least favorite record in the band’s discography.

I’m not sure if anything that I’m going to say about this album has already been said before, but I give it a try. First off, Assembly is a complete evolution from their somewhat shaky experimentation on Musique. On Assembly, the band sounded far more confident in delivery. They know what they are doing because they got tired of doing the same thing over and over again, which is Gothic. The change is rather surprising at first; I was one of many fans who scratched my head and thought “What the fuck happened to Theatre of Tragedy??” But you know, I being an open minded music lover who listens to all sorts of non-metal stuff such as pop, downtempo and techno, so I give it a try. Surprisingly, it doesn’t take that long to let the whole album sink in and guess what; I’m loving it.

I do agree that Assembly is not a record for every metalhead, save for a few tolerant souls like me. Yes. Earlier I mentioned that the band gained confident in writing and playing in this style of music. The opening track “Automatic Lover” is one of my favorite tracks as it is packed with futuristic vibe while moving your body to its addictive, rhythm-heavy tunes. Throughout the album, Liv sings with full determination albeit band members’ claim otherwise (heard that she got kicked out from the band due to lack of commitment post-Assembly). The electronically charged tracks like “Automatic Lover” pretty much give you an idea on what the whole album is all about; flirting, city life, and contemporary metropolitan society. All crafted in somewhat frivolous, toyetic approach.

A few tracks maintained somewhat dark and gloomy passages be it synthesizer-wise or vocally. We heard that in the opening track and now “Episode” continues the solitude-inducing sensation just like its successor “Play”. For this type of music though, you can’t really complain much about the lack of bass; it is there alright. Although on “Play” the bass is a bit distorted to complement the synthesized drum beats, it still creates a nice boom on the finished sound. Well, good thing they didn’t completely abandon the electric guitar because on some songs, the rhythm is surprisingly good too.

Perhaps the most interesting song on this record is “Superdrive”. The mesmerizing synth intertwined with poppy beats combined with Kylie Minogue-esque vocals make this song worthy of repeated listens. Raymond with his pseudo-robotic voice stands somewhere between being annoying to hilarious but eventually his part is nonetheless integral to the track. In a final interview with Raymond Rohonyi (on Last Curtain Call DVD), he stated that “Superdrive” was his among his favorite tracks so it is understandable that he was not too happy with Forever is the World and decided to disband due to Theatre of Tragedy not going in the direction he wanted. Back to the song, the listenable value of this particular song is surprisingly high, if only you are the type of person who enjoys dance music when you are not worshipping Satan while masturbating to Sargeist’s “Empire of Suffering” in your parents’ basement. Well, not that I have anything against that though; I’m a huge fan of Sargeist too, you know.

The lead single from Assembly “Let You Down” is somewhat a downer and does not live up to the magnificence of “Superdrive” but it should be enjoyed in its own perspective exclusively. However, the band restored their dark yet danceable spirits with “Starlit”, which is also another one of my favorite off this record. Like I said, this album is full of surprising elements, prove that Theatre of Tragedy while losing fans after reinventing themselves in the already-tired Gothic scene metal scene, they gained new following with Musique and this album. Just listen to “Envision” where Liv sort of pushes her voice without sounding too banal or forced. One thing you need to remember is that Liv is still singing behind the mic so the stylistic change is not disastrous after all. And yes, the chorus part of “Envision” is also worthy of praise and it sticks in your head long enough that on boring days, the chorus just pops in your head and you start singing away to it. Similar vocal lines are observable on “Flickerlight” where the chorus is even well thought out.

The remaining track, in particular “Motion” is a somber closure. It is a slow, synth-laced conclusion with computerized vocal effects that pretty much summed up the entire record. Although I considered it to be a non-standout track but over time, it grows on you for some reasons unknown. I can’t explain it but this song sounds quite sad, perhaps because it is the final track (the official album track list, excluding the bonus songs which I’m not going to say anything about) where we get to hear Liv Kristin’s vocal for the last time before she got kicked out of the band. Yeah, that’s probably it. Nevertheless, a cool song to close the chapter.

Here we have a band once known to be the godfather of Gothic doom / death metal metamorphoses into something that many purists considered as “blasphemy” to the band’s roots. Plus, Theatre of Tragedy are among those outfits that brought forward the perfect marriage between death growls and enchanting female lullaby. All in all, Assembly is not a bad album. It needs more than just ears to listen and appreciate what the band had done for their fans anew, which to me is another positive change for them. Sometimes, playing the same thing over and over again can be bothersome; you are left to drown in unfathomable monotony for the rest of your career. I think the shock that Theatre of Tragedy created after the radical transformation has somewhat attracted attention of new, younger fans, who may not always be into metal but they love to listen to music that stands somewhere between rock and electronic. Perhaps it is just business as usual, perhaps not.

For open-minded music fans - 80%

Shadow_Walker, July 6th, 2009

When I hear the name “Theatre of Tragedy”, the image of a band which had a great impact on the development of the gothic metal genre with its early albums pops up in my mind. But here we are, yet to face another, completely different face of the band. Yes, this is not metal, it’s not even goth music. This is electro pop/rock. However, I think the goths who listen to industrial and EBM would enjoy it.

But let’s concentrate on the music. It’s happy, it’s up-beat, it’s full of positive emotions and you can chill out while listening to this album. Well it’s not something really unique but the band has put their talent in making this a nice and interesting album. Its mood really fits the modern nightlife in a big metropolis. While listening to “Assembly” I feel like I’m in a club where the people are dancing wild on the floor. So it’s logical that the lyrics deal with flirting and modern life in somewhat a funny way.

There are two main elements that build up the music:
The popish synthesized sounds that actually are complex and a bit eccentric, so that they cannot be found in a song by some pop diva. They are the key part of the melody and are responsible for the pleasant club atmosphere. I personally “see” them as strange floating and intertwining neon lights.
And the guitars, simple and not heavy at all. But they load the music with energy, which is actually their main purpose, because here the synthesizers are in the front place, as in most electro rock bands.
I assume there are drums but it seems that they were killed by the electronic beats.

The vocals are, of course, perfectly performed by Liv. She doesn’t sing in the same vein as in the first albums, and has approached in somewhat pop-manner to her singing, which really fits the atmosphere. However, although I don’t really like the robot voice of Raymond, especially in their last album “Storm”, here he finds his place.

Of course it’s not a perfect release, there are some weak parts, some mediocre tunes. But as a whole it’s a well-done album and most of the songs have their memorable parts. I would recommend this album to all open-minded music fans or those who would like to explore the territory or the electronic music.

Electropop Done Right - 75%

Sue, January 29th, 2008

After the near fatal horror or Musique, Theatre of Tragedy continued their descent into electopop, but unlike Musique- Assembley is good electropop. Now don't get me wrong, I like gothic metal and it hurt like hell to watch one of the most important gothic metal bands turn into some sort of club music, but where Musique was bad club music, Assembly is at least a better album.

In the world of electronica that means catchy, fun and happy. And somehow a band called "Theatre of Tragedy" managed to make a happy pop sort of album. There is no variety in the sound, all electronic, all sung with light voices and lighter lyrics about space, flowers and sex. There is no real quality beyond the fact that it sticks in your head with funny little phrases and notes repeated so much that you can't help but start thinking them. It all plays like the soundtrack to a sci-fi romantic comedy.

If you like real gothic metal, stick with the first 3 albums. If you need a break from gothic induced depression and good music, get this. That's not sarcasm, that's a good review. Kind of.

Ass-embly... A real tragedy indeed! - 55%

Axonn, June 21st, 2007

What I first noticed when listening to this album was the text. The (very) stupid lyrics. The music sounded pretty interesting during the first song (Automatic Lover) but the title of the song and the lyrics pretty much defined the rest of the album: idiotic text and techno/rock music. While I don’t particularly dislike this kind of stuff, it’s definitely Theatre Of Tragedy’s worst album. Their previous release, Musique, was much better than this and Aegis is light years away. Since I like Theatre Of Tragedy, I'll make an exception to my own rule and spend some time in writing a review about something I don't love. I don't hate this album, but it's definitely a disappointment.

What annoys me most are the lyrics. I can’t really stand listening to music when stupid words are being shot at me ears like bullets in my stomach. Even so, I’m going to try and make a super-human effort and ignore this aspect (even if it’s so hard considering the lyrics are sang, not screamed, which makes them more understandable, unfortunately!). So, let’s concern ourselves only with the music on this lowly release.

I don’t know what they were thinking when they recorded this stuff. ‘cause it wasn’t metal, that’s for sure. On some songs, the guitars are used only as filling material and dare-say, the entire album revolves around keyboards, not around guitars. While this might be okay in other situations, it’s not here, since the guitar arrangements are too simple and… simply dumb. They might as well have used a keyboard simulation of a guitar. Anyway, the music isn’t terrible. It’s just… the worst I heard from Theatre Of Tragedy. However. Some songs have really good parts, such as the beginning of “Episode” or “Starlit” or “Automatic Lover”. There are highlights, no doubt about this. But this isn’t enough. The album seems like a happy-horse-shit collection of songs with meaningless lyrics, stretched on a techno-rock instrumental platform. Liv Kristine’s last album as vocal for Theatre Of Tragedy is a sad piece of sound compared to their past works. It looks like it’s turning into a habit with these girls… Tristania’s last album with Vibeke was also their worst. I wouldn’t buy this CD and I would even advice people against it. Go get Aegis instead, it’s a fantastic album. Or, at the opposite ends, Velvet Darkness They Fear (old style) or Musique (new style) are better options.