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Return of the Vampire - 95%

Lasombra1750, August 19th, 2013

Theatres des Vampires underwent significant changes after releasing "Vampyrisme, Nècrophile, Nècrosadisme, Nècrophagie", their debut album. Firstly, Lord Vampyr recorded all the first album by himself due to his original band mates quitting the project, so he looked for more professional and enthusiastic musicians and he found them, namely in the keyboardist Fabio "Necros" Varesi. Second, the band decided to stop playing "trve" black metal, instead they would start playing a more friendly, yet awesome blend of melodic black metal and symphonic gothic metal. In a few words, this is an entirely new band with an entirely new sound.

Now, let's talk about the music. As I stated before, this is an entirely different band from the one that we found in the first album and the "Nosferatu, eine Simphonie des Grauens" demo, the musicians in this line-up are way better and more talented. Every instrument in this album is played perfectly and well-performed, achieving an entirely original and authentic sound with a very vampyric and horror movie style atmosphere. Don't expect the sheer speed and brutality of the first album, instead we have a very wide arrange of musical influences: melodic black metal, symphonic gothic metal, thrash metal and traditional heavy metal. It is this variety that makes this album fresh and very funny to listen.

The strongest point of this album are the keyboards, they are the backbone of the band and fortunately, they are very well-played. Necros is one of the best and most talented keyboardists and songwriters in metal. The keyboards really bring out the vampyric and unique atmosphere that Theatres des Vampires' music achieves. There are many ways in which the keyboards are used to give the music a creepy feeling: be it the spooky one-note piano pattern of "Preludium", the classic horror-movie score church organs found in "Throne of Dark Immortals", "When the Wolves Cry" and "The Coven", or the choral arrangements in "Exorcism" and "Cursed".

Vocals have always been a strong point of this band. Lord Vampyr is one of the most talented vocalists in melodic black metal and extreme gothic metal. While his shriek is nowhere as strong and raw as in the first album, he still does his work perfectly. His clean vocals have improved a lot from the first work and he has no trouble switching between singing styles. As Sonya Scarlet isn't still in the band at this point, Lord Vampyr has to take further his vocal duties and gives a really good performance, sounding like a gothic/black metal version of King Diamond. "Exorcism" really shows off Lord Vampyr's talent, with its mix of low tenor clean vocals and very harsh, high-pitched shrieks.

The guitar work is also top-notch, playing with a wide array of metal genres. The solos are very good and I can hear traditional heavy metal influences in them, a la Mercyful Fate and Iron Maiden, the best solos in this work can be found in "When the Wolves Cry", which has a very cool guitar work and personally, is the best song of the album. "Woods of Valacchia Part 2: The Revelation" has a killer thrash metal guitar work, which can be heard especially in the intro.

The bass work is very interesting as the instrument is clearly audible in the full-length of the album and is quite creative and original. "When the Wolves Cry" has some interesting bass lines underneath the guitar solos, "The Coven" begins with a simple bass line that gives the music a spooky atmosphere, and "Thule" is great with its rock n' rollish bass lines in the intro.

Maybe the only downside of this album are the idiotic and cheesy lyrics. As in the first album and every Lord Vampyr project, the lyrics are plagued by spelling and grammar mistakes, this guy really needs some English courses or maybe he should write in Italian if he feels uncomfortable with the language. The only well-written lyrics are "The Coven" and "Exorcism" but both weren't written by the band. Also the band relies heavily on quotes by authors such as H. P. Lovecraft, William Blake and Edgar Allan Poe, noting even more the poor writing skills of Lord Vampyr.

To sum up, "The Vampire Chronicles" is one of the best metal albums ever released and one of the most creative and original efforts too. Choosing the best Theatres des Vampires album is a hard task as this album and "Bloody Lunatic Asylum/Iubilaeum Anno Dracula 2001" are material of very high quality. However, if you like traditional heavy metal better, you'll find "The Vampire Chronicles" more attractive.

Highlights: Enthrone the Dark Angel, Throne of Dark Immortals, Woods of Valacchia Part 2: The Revelation, When the Wolves Cry, Exorcism, The Coven.

'Queen of the Damned' - In musical form! - 65%

Derigin, November 30th, 2008

In the second novel of Anne Rice's infamous series of novels, the "Vampire Chronicles," the protagonist finds himself in a rock band; a rock band whose members pose as vampires, sing of vampires, and - through luck and ill-fortune - actually has a vampire in it. Be that as it may, the protaganist realizes it's all a gimmick. Theatres des Vampires "The Vampire Chronicles" is no exception. The depressing reality is that you're left questioning whether it was intended or not. How could it not be? Yet, that is an answer I can not fully grasp from this work. No matter how shallow the 'vampirism' gimmick seems to be, the band remains passionately involved in it.

The members of the band are evidently experienced with their instruments. After ten years, it comes as no surprise that the riffs, the vocals, and the instruments are all tuned, skilled and performed well. Altogether, the instruments combine together marvelously; there is no sense that there are any issues with cues or with competence. The most remarkable aspect of the band is its ability to switch between styles and to converge styles effortlessly. Even within songs (as exemplified in "Enthrone The Dark Angel" or in "Cursed"), vocalists can move between growls and clean gothic vocals, and fast-paced thumping riffs can fade into distant guitar solos and piercing piano notes without hesitation; without seeming awkward or out-of-place. The drums are inevitably a bit mundane, and unnecessary for this style of music, yet they neither contribute nor take away from the overall sound. Their existence in this work is for token purposes - for providing that additional 'umpf' for the purposes of creating a chaotic and violent atmosphere to the rest of the music (as in "Thule").

On the whole "The Vampire Chronicles" is a tirade of gothic influences and black influences trying to out compete each other for attention. There are points, (as in "Woods Of Valacchia Part 2"), where I am almost certain - almost - that I can hear thrash influences in the vocals and in the bass. Ah! Perhaps it's my own selfish wishful thinking for something better! As much as this is a convoluted mess, it continues to be sustainable throughout the entire work. It's most significant weakness is that it becomes utterly monotomous after only a short time. For a ten track album, that shouldn't be a concern.

Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to avoid the vampire clichés in this work. Sobbing and wailing children are no more suited in this situation, than they were in Tim Burton's "Sleepy Hollow." An organ, and a chamber choir to go with it (as in "Throne of Dark Immortals") is so very typical for a gothic approach towards vampires. If the goal was to achieve a stereotypical Dracula-esque atmosphere, lightning, one-key hits of a piano, and ghostly wails (as in the intro, "Preludium") were successful in doing just that. For the entrance track, I can't help but feel it was sorely lacking in the atypical. One could say that applies to the whole album. The lyrics, the song titles, even the album's title itself only contribute to the overall sense that the 'vampirism' subtracts from what this album could have been. If only.