Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

A Listenable Tragedy - 76%

HanSathanas, July 16th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2000, CD, Nuclear Blast (Limited edition, Digipak)

Listening to the entire album for the first time provoked a certain uneasy feeling deep inside, knowing these are the same people who masterfully crafted three beautiful records, beginning with the self –titled, Velvet Darkness They Fear, and Aegis. It seems unfortunate that Stavanger’s Gothic doom household has now turned on its head, becoming a mere parody of itself.

Now, fifteen years after its initial release, Musique is certainly an offering that one has grown to either love or hate. Consensus across the board seems to indicate a uniformed pattern of shock and contempt at the drastic change in style. Ask around any metalhead about this record; it is a safe bet that they will most likely jeer at this album. However, one man’s abomination is another man’s art. It eventually grows on me like some benign tumor that poses no threat due to its miniscule size. At the same time, I am awaken to the reality of trying get rid of it while it is still infancy. While there is not much to be treasured from this release, “Machine” is certainly a memorable opener. In all intent and purposes, this is no longer a Gothic metal album. Liv Kristin shifts from singing like a siren in despair to all-out pop queen. Afraid not, her trademark voice is still here to stay but she has explored a new singing style that is surprisingly pleasant after a decade and a half later. On the other hand, Raymond now sounds ever so monotonous and digitized thanks to the voice synthesizer. He sounds awful, like pretentious almost. Although I can’t exactly blame him for his performance but his breath is funky from the prospect of getting more money. Yes. Liv is the reason this album being a not so disastrous in my long list of bands whose change in style gone completely wrong.

Personally, this record holds a certain level of aesthetics that is so foreign even to the band members but it is not without redeeming qualities. Picture the song “Crash / Concrete” being used in scenes where Wesley Snipes is slicing his way through a crowd of vampires in the next installment of Blade film series. “Image” is however nothing short of sexually flirtatious and it will not work with the previously mentioned scenario. On its own, the song is one of my immediate favorite and it is a perfect choice for a single. There is nothing particularly fantastic about this track other than its clever use of synthesizer, upbeat tempo akin to classic rock fused with danceable electronic tunes. Have you watched the music video? The monochromatic texture befits the song very well and it is by no means surprising to see just how alluring Liv is. The rest of the guys look rather hilarious though what with the emo-esque eyeliner.

Another highlight of the album is “Retrospect” which is surprisingly pleasant to say the least. Its slow, trance-inducing verse section is notable for bringing back the listeners to the band’s Gothic heyday. It is a moving experience that somehow sums up the band’s metamorphosis, yet the process retains the basic DNA that makes Theatre of Tragedy who they are. This is also the track where the guitars are more upfront with computerized sound effects toned down to minimum. Consider this song as a self-conscious farewell note to their old style that Raymond deemed to have grown sick and tired of repeating. Next, we have the near-instrumental “Retrospect” followed by “Space Age”. The latter track finalizes the electronic transition on most somber notes, neglecting what the band has stood for in the past while their hearts are somehow itching to relive the good old days. To some, Theatre of Tragedy seemed to have made the bed that they now sleep in but pre-departure albums disproved otherwise; both “Storm” and “Forever is the World” recapture the emotional high commonly associated with their Gothic doom sensibility during the early years.

“That’s it, Theatre of Tragedy commits suicide” is exactly what I thought when Musique first came out fifteen years ago. Yes. Back then, I didn’t even bother listening to this album after one session. I was deeply disappointed. Today, I am now able to appreciate what they do and I respect their decision after purchasing their last two records. Once thought to be dead, the band is alive and kicking, only to depart once again but this time, they are totally gone, never to return. “Musique” is for the most open-minded metalheads. Majority of the tracks are quite boring. Only a handful of songs are listenable and they are surprisingly good which makes this album a skip-worthy record, suitable only for the die-hards and collectors alike.