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Repetitive gothic metal album with good vocals - 50%

limbonic_art666, July 22nd, 2011

This band has the downside of being very cliche, cheesy, predictable, and often, exaggerated. Ignoring the lyrics and song names, these issues still come up through the music itself. But do these hindrances take the album down in flames with it? Or do the positive elements outshine the negatives? Does it fulfill expectations? Is it possible to listen to it without skipping any songs, and still be loved? To answer these questions, it is necessary to identify the strengths and weaknesses, and the overall flow.

Theatres des Vampires is a band that has changed their style many times. They started as a Black Metal band with their first album, and moved to symphonic black metal/melodic BM, then slowly to Gothic Metal, and finally to an industrial-influenced sound. This record features Lord Vampyr and Sonya Scarlet as the vocalists, which gives a beauty and the beast type of vocals. The cover is a purple "goth" girl, which is interesting but cheesy. For reference, this album was made during the gothic metal era of the band.

What are the strengths of the album? Defiantly the vocals, hands down. Sonya Scarlet's and Lord Vampyr's vocals are very fitting to the atmosphere, and are one of the main contributors to the sound and flow of the songs. They are what you would expect of a typical Gothic metal album, but the highlights are the duets, such as the one in "Angel of Lust". Lord Vampyr uses growled vocals and sung, opera-like vocals, and spoken vocals. In some songs, they sing both together which also works well. Another strength are the keyboards, which are the second most important aspect of the music. They remind of a horror films, the night, Halloween, and Tim Bourton movies, and are used in almost every song, sometimes complementing the guitars, or playing their own terrifying melody. The keyboards are the main tool for creating the nightly atmosphere, and do their job well.

Unfortunately, the album is far from perfect, and suffers from a number of flaws. The guitars aren't too impressive, they play the same notes over and over, and are often distracting from the music. There is little variety, and suffer from being too loud, diverting attention from the other elements in the music. This is a metal album, of course, and they are necessary for that piece of heaviness, but fails here. It is not fun to listen to the same notes over and over for the duration of the WHOLE ALBUM. Repetition is another recurring element; both in the songs and the album. It is often a chore for me to listen to full album since very few songs stand out, and the rest feels like the same thing recycled over and over. I wouldn't say there are any un-listenable songs here, but some suffer from being too similar, predictable, and boring. This usually occurs when the lengths are so short as the ones here, the average is about 4 minutes per song. Although it is gothic metal, and variety is not necessary, more elements could be added to the songs to make them more interesting.

The album is hard to listen too entirely, but it has some memorable songs. Sonya and Lord Vampyr are amazing here, but everything else could be improved. Even the keyboards, which are done well, could still be used more, there are many parts of songs that feel empty or incomplete and more tracks could remedy that. The rest of the flaws are very bad, especially the repetition. This is one of the weakest albums of the band's discography, but much better than the albums that come after it, without Lord Vampyr. The sound here is just too simple at times, and songs don't have much progression either. I'd take any TDV album released before this any day.

Originally written for sputnikmusic

Surprisingly Good! - 78%

h_clairvoyant, February 10th, 2009

Ok, so it's an album with a distressed little doll on the front cover. The front-woman looks like a cheap whore on Halloween night and the front-man calls himself "Lord Vampyr". It would be a lie to say I walked into this with high expectations. In fact, after the short soundclips I had heard, I don't know how I ended up buying this album in the first place. However, I am glad I did.

Now, the vocals really are nothing special here. The majority of the vocals are sung by either Sonya Scarlet or Lord Vampyr, sometimes clean, sometimes harsh. At times they can be interesting and noteworthy, but for the most part, they are pretty standard. One vocal stand-out is the chorus part of Luciferia. Sonya harmonizes beautifully, making this one of the most memorable tracks on the album. For both of the vocalists, however, I have the same peeve. It is almost impossible to understand them. I do not know whether to blame their Italian accents, poor production, or just the whacky non-sense lyrics they write. Overall, they are quite listenable, but nothing to write home about.

Music-wise, Theatres des Vampires tends to stick to a traditional gothic style. The keyboards tend to overpower the guitar work (but the vocals are definately the forefront here). Organs are often placed into the undertones of the music, gently hinting at a midnight atmosphere. Also, TdV introduced a group of guest musicians into their music. The strings brought with them only strengthen the piece.

Perhaps through the first couple of listens, nothing on Nightbreed of Macabria would particularly stand out. The majority of the songs seem to blur together, since they all comprise of the same, signature TdV Gothic atmosphere. However, after a couple of listens this album really does stick. Be it the dominating choirs of Angel of Lust or the sinister repetition of "Join Us!" in Carnival Day, this disc has a little several moments to relish. The songs may not pull you to tears or change your life, but you may find yourself singing along, playing some of the songs over and over again.

There certainly are both highlights and low-lights. There are songs to repeat and songs to skip, as with the majority of other notable albums. And, with albums that have those enjoyable songs that help make an otherwise standard CD very listenable, I would have to recommend it. It is no Beyond The Veil, but it is a thoroughly enjoyable Gothic metal album. I will admit my low expectations were shattered and I was pleasantly surprised.

Highlights: Lady in Black, Angel of Lust, Luciferia, Carnival Day

Their Most Diverse Release to Date - 80%

Ouijamage, April 5th, 2005

What first struck me about Theatres des Vampires (TDV) was their incredibly atmospheric sound and appealing imagery which surrounds the band members and their choice of artwork. TDV have always used much orchestration and effects in their music to bring accross a gothic horror film feel to their music and this album certainly contains the most diverse use of effects and varying styles to achieve this end.

At first I was a little apprehensive of buying this album after hearing the downloads available on their website - the vocals sounded more like Till Lindemann from Rammstein than Alexander's usual screeching style. However, I was not to be disappointed.

"Luciferia" is an amazing track, and soon grew on me. It has a slow, catchy chorus riff, and the organ effect in the background really does work. The song is simple and sticks to a straightforward approach. Although not released as one (at time of writing this review), you could call this the single of the album) - it presses all the right buttons both musically and atmospherically. You will notice with a lot of TDV songs they know how to effectively use subtle musical effects to enhance their songs, proving they are not a joke, and this is one fine example.

Another favourite is "Angel of Lust" which is quite catchy and has more of a rock-based chorus. This begins with a great twinkling keyboard effect followed by soft vocals and builds up and up throughout the song, and Alexander really belts it out in the chorus (perhaps showing his range!). He duets quite frequently with Scarlett in this song and it really goes together nicely. It is a shame he left after this album.

My other favcourite is "The Curse of Headless Christ" which is probably what I would call the ballad of the album. It is slow and melodic, using clever guitar effects at just the right moment to add to the gothic soundscape. There is also good use of staccato string effects as it fades out.

The album does have its fair share of instrumentals and tracks focussing entirely on effects, such as the two "Incubo" tracks and the intro "Welcome to Macabria". Musically pointless, but atmospherically essential, these tracks only feed the album's description of "a musical travelogue through a beautiful yet unspeakably grotesque realm of the imagination, that owes something to the cinematic vision of Gothic director par excellence Tim Burton." (taken from the TDV website). Burton's love of a background gothic choir is highly evident through the use of Scarlett's vocals, and Fabian, as always, has pulled no punches with his orchestraic effects.

The final track, "La Danse 'Macabria' du Vampire [Horror Club Remix Feat. Radamantis - SixSexSix]", is a remix of a track from Suicide Vampire album, and due to the repetitive and catchy synthesizer during the verse, this actually works well as a dance track, I hate to say!

At the start of writing this review I had given this album a score of 75%, but after listening to it whilst writing I've upped it to an 80%, as although not a perfect album (there are no real amazing blinders on here), the album overall is clever and effective at achieving their gothic horror sound. As the band are Italian, their English isn't perfect, especially when singing in a genre reknown for its complex syntax and lavish use of words, but this album is a damn good piece of work.