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Ground Zero and Groundbreaking - 93%

Gothic_Metalhead, July 11th, 2019
Written based on this version: 1995, CD, Massacre Records

If you think about gothic metal, one of the most common characteristics musically is the inclusion of beauty and the beast. A vocal technique which includes a soft operatic soprano female singer, and combined with a male vocalist guttural growls. Of course, the band that gets the credit for this revolutionary technique during the mid-1990s is Norway's Theatre of Tragedy. Theatre of Tragedy is far from being the first female fronted gothic metal band (look at The Third and the Mortal) nor were the first to ever do the technique (hear Songs from Early-The Gathering and Early-Paradise Lost) they were just the first band to do the technique in an entire album. You can argue that albums like “Velvet Darkness They Fear” and “Aegis” are the more influential albums in Theatre of Tragedy's discography, but the bands self-titled debut album was the true ground zero for what would become an overused technique in gothic metal. Theatre of Tragedy's debut is full of dark beauty, elegant atmosphere, sophisticated themes, and a bold message about how important it is to make a sensitive album.

"Theatre of Tragedy" is an album showcasing the band at their rawest and heaviest. The album's production is raw and may not be superior to Theatre of Tragedy's later albums, but the production gives them an advantage. It does give the piano/keyboard more darkness, and it adds noticeable reverb throughout the album. However, the production of the album is able to make it sound gritty and darker for a female fronting band at that time. I personally loved the guitar approach of the album because of how haunting it sounds. The drumming on this album is also really good too because of its slow doom style. It also has some overly dramatic music (which makes Theatre of Tragedy's music great) and most of it comes from its piano parts. The majority of the album's piano parts are full of classical inspirations and show a lot of sadness as well. Once you get to "...A Distance There Is..." it not only is incredibly sad, but is one of the best examples of classically trained gothic metal piano. The music of this album may be over dramatic, but "Theatre of Tragedy" is still a dark and sad album to listen to, and still a great choice for those wanting inspirations to play piano in metal.

"Theatre of Tragedy" is known for being the first album to feature the beauty and the beast vocals in full that would be synonymous within gothic metal. Concerning Liv Kristine's performance her voice is soft, but soothing. The passion is shown through her voice especially in "...A Distance There Is..." which adds more sadness to the song. As for Raymond Rohonyi's performance I say its pretty good. Though the production of the album does hinder his growling they still show that dark extreme passion as well. The vocals that Kristine and Rohonyl provided throughout album has a great level of dynamic especially with there later albums. Kristine gives that soft, passionate sound while Raymond's voice is the extreme, macho sound that the album really needs.

Theatre of Tragedy's debut album and even with "Velvet Darkness They Fear" also has unique lyrics. The majority of the lyrics are done in Early Modern English fashion to show more drama to their music. The lyrics make sound as if it was taken place in the medieval period.

"Swooning emotions smite my bosom -
I have in aptness depriev'd thy eyrie
Oh! - but ne'er alas;
Fro many another a lass -
Lodge here fore'ermore.
Dodge thither sable of yore!"

To be honest I'm not sure what to make of Early Modern English lyrics, but it does make this and the next Theatre of Tragedy album more unique than any other gothic metal band. The band is using what is considered a dead form of English and made into music for metal music. It's very difficult to write stuff like that as well as sing the way the English was said and showed Theatre of Tragedy talent as songwriters and as lyricist.

Theatre of Tragedy's debut album is the album that I consider to be the better album. Despite having raw production compared to "Velvet Darkness They Fear" this album is still the band's heaviest and brought a lot of unique elements into their music that has not been done afterwards. Theatre of Tragedy along with The Gathering ignited a new wave of gothic metal bands to involve more women into metal music. Most bands tried to do the beauty and the beast approach some are good, but some are bad. Women in metal and gothic metal in general are indebted to Theatre of Tragedy because they were the band that most want to mimic for years to come.