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Gothic garbage - 13%

Zodijackyl, February 27th, 2014

This is that type of shitty gothic stuff that had a bit of an allure when information was sparse, but the image and the music were only a speck in the shadow of what good black metal did with the same elements.

This is a sloppy, disorganized review because this is a sloppy, disorganized album. It consists of lots of short sections hacked together with no flow whatsoever, occasional repetition, and a stop every once in a while because that idea has run out. Consider this a warning for my fellow fans of melodic black metal who might be misled into thinking this is anything but gothic garbage that makes Cradle of Filth sound like Bolt Thrower.

The "melodic black" part here is pitifully wimpy, and the gothic rock elements are lame 90s mallgoth stuff, not atmospheric like good goth rock. Just about anyone can play tremolo chords and soak their sound in keyboards to make wussy gothic/black metal, much to the lament of black metal fans. This is a step before that, when the elements were in place - female vocals and keyboards to water down some distorted guitars and rasps - but the puzzle wasn't yet complete. It's like a puzzle because once it was put together, nobody was having any fun with it, it was done.

The remarkable aspect of this album is that despite borrowing the dregs of black metal and copying a few forms, they neglected the bucket of paste that held even the weakest black metal together - that is, distorted guitars played rapidly with fast drumming under them creates a simple aesthetic that sounds cool, the space in the mix is filled by the roar of distortion. Instead, TdV have a lot of space in their sound that isn't filled by noise, everything sounds small, and rather wimpy. Each of the elements feels small and lonely - the keyboards are resigned to the background so they are never the lead, but they also don't fill out the sound very well. The vocals - clean male, female, and rasping - seem to be trying to take the lead, with no sense of what a lead vocalist brings. The drumming is inconsistent in volume, relatively slow, and really sets the feel of this as some sort of crappy rock album, where rather than the full roar of a metal band, there are segments of clean guitars and keys, drums and distorted guitars, or female vocals over clean guitars. They don't put it all together.

The guitars are perhaps the biggest failure here. They're supposed to be the center of the sound but they sound like they're coming through a tiny combo amp. Their presence in the sound is in a pretty small range, with none of the air and atmosphere that practically comes instantly with distortion and trebly riffs. There's hardly any flow to it, half of the riffs are little fragments that aren't even hooks, and the rest is sloppy, aimless tremolo that neither flows nor sounds cool. There's neither the tremolo-chord fullness of black metal nor the aggression of single-note death metal riffs. Towards the end of the album they stumble into some more continuous tremolo riffs that almost provide a sense of flow, but despite nearly achieving competence in one aspect, it still sucks overall.

This makes Mystic Circle sound like Mayhem.

Transilvanian Hunger - 80%

Lasombra1750, June 21st, 2013

Warning: "Vampyrisme, Nècrophile, Nècrosadisme, Nècrophagie" is a "trve" black metal album with very little symphonic and gothic metal influences. Fans of later releases such as "Suicide Vampire", "Nightbreed of Macabria" and the Sonya Scarlet era should think twice before listening to this album. In fact, this album is more likely to appeal fans of traditional black metal bands such as Darkthrone, Mayhem, Burzum and Sarcófago.

Theatres des Vampires' debut album is a pure black metal work as it has: high pitched shrieks, horrible production, tremolo-picked guitar riffs, repetitive and fast drumming with plenty of blast beats, and songwriting focusing more on raw speed and brutality. The difference between this work and the following ones is that it has very little symphonic and gothic metal influences, and the keyboards are not the dominant instrument, instead the tremolo-picked guitars lead all the songs.

One of the strong points of this album are the vocals, which can be described as raw and primitive. Lord Vampyr hasn't fully developed his clean singing yet, and his shrieks sound stronger and rawer than never before. There is still a trace of his doom/death metal grunts of his early days with Sepolcrum and VII Arcano. This is easily, the best vocal preformance that Lord Vampyr has ever given in his entire career. It's such a pity that his voice has got weaker in his following works. Songs that show off the vocal range of this talented man are: "Upon the Darkest Mountain", the only song that in its full-length features only shrieking, and a really good one I must say. "Woods of Valacchia" with a good mix of vocal styles: witch chants used as background vocals, clean singing in some parts, and insane shrieking in the most brutal parts of the song. "Vlad the Impaler" has shrieks in its verses, screams and grunts in the pre-chorus, clean vocals in the chorus, and death grunts and clean spoken vocals in its ending.

Another pro of this album are the guitars and the keyboards. The guitars dominate the entire album, tremolo-picked riffs are found everywhere, giving to the music that raw sound that characterizes black metal. The keyboards are exclusively used as a backing instrument, with the only purpose of giving an eerie atmosphere to the music. Some of the most interesting songs instrumentally speaking are: "Twilight Kingdom" which is pretty brutal in its full lenght, with tremolo-picked guitars found everywhere, powerful shrieking and actually a quite good drum work at the end of the song. "Woods of Vallacchia" is easily the best song of this opus and a rollercoaster in its entirety: a very brutal pure black metal intro which is repeated nearly the end of the song; a hypnotic mid-part with some of the eeriest church organ lines I have ever heard backed up by brutal tremolo-picked guitars, shrieking and Lord Vampyr's signature witch chant; then the song slows down into an acoustic guitar riff with Lord Vampyr repeating some Wiccan chants just to be immediately followed by a chaotic quick part with some of the most intense shrieking Lord Vampyr has ever made; after that the intro pattern is repeated and afterwards the song fades with a repetitive riff and a bass line backing it. "Vlad the Impaler" is the most melodic song found in this album and the most similar to the ones found in "The Vampire Chronicles" and "Bloody Lunatic Asylum": it has the most melodic tremolo-picked guitar riffs and a doom/death metal feeling in its chorus and outro.

However, this album has its weaknesses. The most obvious is the horrible production, characteristic of "trve" black metal. The volume is very low in the recording, so you must listen this album with headphones to fully appreciate the music found in it. It is very clear that the main influences of Theatres des Vampires at this point are "trve" black metal bands like Darkthrone and Mayhem, for this reason this work also suffers the same trouble of the latter bands: repetition. This is seen especially in the drum work, the same patterns are used over and over again, making some parts of the album quite uninteresting and boring. Also some songs are plagued by sloppiness and sound forced, for example, "While the Snow Turns Red" while has it has its moments, the verses sound pretty sloppy as the instruments are off rhythm.

The lyrics, as in every Theatres des Vampires release with Lord Vampyr, are quite cheesy and overly simple. They are also plagued by spelling and grammar mistakes, since English is not the native language of the band. All the songs talk about blood drinking, raping and sacrificing virgins, creatures hiding in the woods and Satanism; written in a very cheap and almost laughable way. "Twilight Kingdom" talks about the Romanian city of Sighisoara and Dracula's reign of terror. "Reborn in the Wood" is a song about a vampire dwelling in a dark forest and the powers he has. "Within the Dark Domain" has the better written lyrics: it tells the story of an unfortunate traveler that enters into an uninhabited house where a female vampire lives. "Vlad the Impaler" is a song about the man that inspired the Dracula myth.

In conclusion, this is an album that will mostly please traditional black metal fans and hardcore Theatres des Vampires ones. It is a quite good work for what it has to offer, fortunately Theatres des Vampires will drastically improve and their three following albums are some of the best and most original material ever released in the metal universe. To sum up, this is a highly recommendable work and worth hunting down, since it is pretty rare.

Highlights: Twilight Kingdom, Reborn in the Wood, Woods of Vallacchia, Upon the Darkest Mountain, Vlad the Impaler.

Trve Vampyric Black Metal - 90%

DracuLeo, August 23rd, 2011

The band's first full length featured a continuation of their black metallish ideas from the Nosferatu demo. And honestly, all I've wished for this band is to evolve into this style, but with better quality and a little more keyboards here and there. But what they actually did was to slowly get rid of all the black metal influences and add too many keyboards! Anyway, on to the actual album:

The first track, 'Intro Twilight Kingdom', begins with ome atmospheric keyboard and Lord Vampyr speaking something from Bram Stoker's Dracula. Then the actual song begins with tremolo picking and fast drumming as Lord Vampyr says something about the Romanian city Sighisoara and 'The Princess of Evil Made Flesh' *wow, now where did I hear this name? Replace "Princess" with "Principle" and you'll know what I mean*. The guitar riffs in this song are actually great, and Lord Vampyr shows us once again his vocal talent with chants and many, many shrieks. Also, at the ending riff, the drumming is actually cool too!

The Lands Beyond the Forest starts off with fast tremolo picking and drumming. Then the riffs change to mid paced and Lord Vampyr shrieks once again some stuff about vampires. In the middle of the song the guitars get slower and more melodic, and that's a nice feature for a black metal album which we won't see that much. At 2:17 the keyboards FINALLY come in this song, but they're not something special or unique, they're more of a backing instrument in here. At 3:00 the guitars return to being melodic and slow as Lord Vampyr whispers in the background. The whispers soon turn into growls and the instruments join the keyboards once again, ending the song. Reborn in the Wood begins with some fast guitars *nothing new here*, then with some catchy riffs, and then Lord Vampyr's join soon *again, nothing new*. The keyboards can barely be heard, and it's a shame, since the riffs in this one are actually great! And well, that's how we can describe the whole song, nothing new is brought to the table, yet. Woods of Valacchia proves the opposite, however, despite the mispelling of the word Wallachia. The song begins with fast drumming, Lord Vampyr's shrieks and catchy tremolo picking. The keyboards create a horror movie atmosphere as Lord Vampyr shrieks something about how 'blood will be life'. The drums and guitars aid the keyboards in creating this beautiful and melodic atmosphere, but I guess you know already what to expect from this band. At 1:47 the keyboards play one of the coolest church organ riffs I've ever heard, and the rest of the instruments join in, the guitar playing the same riff. Then we have a little slow bridge with the keyboards trying to be 'horror movie like' once again, but then they repeat the same awesome riff as before, although you notice that some instruments are a bit off rythm. Then the guitar plays an awesome riff as well, and is soon joined by the keyboards. Once they all stop, Lord Vampyr does a witch chant and the instruments soon join him with slow-paced riffs, but things get faster as he starts shrieking. At 5:04 the guitar plays something more melodic, once again with a background keyboard, but then at 5:45 the riffs start to repeat, revealing that these are all the ideas that Lord Vampyr had. Still, this is one of the best songs off this album, as it mixes the black metal feeling with melody perfectly!

Within the Dark Domain starts with a sudden shriek and then some fast guitars, this time the band keeping themselves more melodic. Lord Vampyr sings about how a man is traped in a haunted house and how the girl which lured him there is a vampire which hates crucifixes a little too much. After 2 minutes of this formula, the keyboards finally join the other instruments and Lord Vampyr switches from shrieks to chants once more, making the song even cooler! Then the tremolo picking from the first parts of the song is repeated once more, and once it ends, things get more melodic as Lord Vampyr tries to impersonate the crucifix hating lady, which is a bit cheesy. Hiring a female vocalist for this would've been better. The keyboard joins in once again, but not for long, as Lord Vampyr decides to repeat the beginning tremolo picking parts once again. The song ends with the cool keyboards from the second minute of the song and some more of Lord Vampyr's chants. Upon the Darkest Mountain has some of the album's most melodic tremolo picking, but it has only shrieks, which is the only downpoint of this song. It should've had some clean vocals here and there, especially since every guitar part is eargasm. While the Snow Turns Red has some great string parts and great fast-paced guitars and drums as well. Lord Vampyr's shrieks are truly killer in this one, but this song's problem is that it's a little too off rythm and quite a little hard to enjoy because of that.

The album closes with its best track, Vlad the Impaler. It's obvious, since it talks about the very person which inspired the Dracula myth. It starts with some catchy tremolo picking to which Lord Vampyr shrieks a bit. Then, all of a sudden, all the instruments stop and you can barely hear the bass playing a nice melody. Lord Vampyr suddenly shrieks and the guitar plays the same melody as the bass with tremolo picking, with the drums adding more speed. Then things get slower and Lord Vampyr does some chants. Afterwards, this whole formula is repeated, with the church organ playing the bass melody as well. At 2:45 things get even more slower, with the church organ creating a haunting atmosphere and Lord Vampyr first doing some clean vocals and then shrieking. The instruments make one last attempt at true black metal, but with slower tempo, and once the tremolo picking and Lord Vampyr finish their job, we're left with the church organ, which closes the whole album with one of the creepiest melodies I've ever heard!

Overall, if you're a black metal fan or if you've loved their Nosferatu demo, then do yourself a favor and grab this release too, since it's one of their best black metal works! Sadly, after this album, the band added more gothic keyboards to their songs and they've also given up the poor recording, as they slowly started to stray away from black metal.
Favorite tracks: Twilight Kingdom, Woods of Valaccia, Within the Dark Domain, Upon the Darkest Mountain, While the Snow Turns Red, Vlad the Impaler