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Dark, Vampyric Brilliance! - 90%

SnuffThespian, August 18th, 2009

“Pleasure and Pain”, Theatres des Vampires’ first release after the departure of singer Lord Vampyr, still manages to keep that classic dark, vampyric feel that TDV is known for. It still went in the direction of “Nightbreed…”, further dropping the symphonic black metal feel and continuing toward a more hard gothic rock sound, while keeping a metal vibe. Along with their later releases, this album really shows the band’s endurance and their true artistic talent, giving a rather avant-garde take to each of their releases.

The guitars are melodic and brooding, while staying very heavy, and they complement each other very nicely. This goes for the bass as well. The bass makes itself known and distinguished, while not overbearing or just plain trying too hard. There is nothing too unnecessary in any of the progressions, and the riffing can be rather memorable, which is sometimes hard to say with my experiences with typical gothic metal.

The keyboard is actually quite a nice treat with this album. It’s not anywhere near domineering or annoying at all throughout. It actually adds something necessary and beautiful to the music, as opposed to the average “this’ll make us sound spooky” kind of aesthetic, as attempted by many so-called gothic metal acts, which are really just symphonic metal. The synth chords actually move with the rest of the music and the keys can be quite impressive.

There’s not much to say about the percussion on this release. The drummer keeps time well and does nothing too unnecessary. The double bass adds the heavy touch to each song when needed, with enough experimentation to keep the drums noticeable and exciting.

Sonya Scarlet’s vocals are just brilliant. She is and has been very good at what she does, even after taking the lead role. Hearing her almost makes you forget about Lord Vampyr, while still maintaining the accustomed TDV feel, but taking the band into a new, possibly better, direction. Scarlet’s voice is dark and melancholic, and a pleasure to listen to on each tune. It fits in nicely with the rest of the band’s orchestration, and is perhaps the band’s selling point. Sonya is accompanied graciously by deep male vocals from the other band members, which are also quite nice. Even the Italian accent is a beautiful touch.

Overall, “Pleasure and Pain” is a great listen. Production isn’t the best, but I think it adds to the dark atmosphere a bit, and maintains the band’s previous feel. The best part is that the band is not still overly dwelling on the whole vampire theme, and even though it’s still quite apparent, it’s not as dominating and silly as before. The songs are lined up nicely, with the standout being “Black Mirror” in my opinion: doomy and artistic, with hints of black metal and a rather harsh sense of melody and gothic beauty. This album foreshadows TDV’s next releases (which are still good) and makes for a wonderful, gloomy metal experience. This is a treat for both old and new TDV fans, and I strongly recommend it for those seeking quality gothic metal. I give it a 90% overall, though I personally believe it deserves 100%; the new TDV is quite different, so I'm trying not to impose on those who still want the old TDV or aren't too affectionate towards gothic metal.