Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

The real thing, what else can I say? - 94%

Nightsward, December 13th, 2008

Really, very few words could accurately describe this band. Tristania are some of the crown jewels of gothic metal, surpassing pioneers Theatre of Tragedy with their debut album, Widow’s Weeds.

The cover does a near-perfect job of illustrating what the potential listener/fan would get from here: melancholy, darkness, and more melancholy. Yet, not even the greatest artist’s brush could really depict what treasures you’d find in this art for the ear, because THIS melancholy includes beauty, and who can really paint a picture of both?

But anyways I’m losing sight of the topic. As beautiful as it is, it isn’t one of the cheesy, orchestra-and-keyboard-riddled mess that pollutes the once-honored halls of symphonic and gothic metal nowadays. In fact, the keyboards are used quite tastefully, more for adding beauty, depth, and an extra dimension that wouldn’t be present otherwise. Rarely does it ever take the melody, but when it does, you get an earful of excellently crafted, easily memorable melodies, and, while they are occasionally repeated a tad too many times, they still somehow manage to keep the listener’s attention.

The guitars are remarkable as well, playing some memorable riffs when in the main or giving strong support to the keyboards when the keyboards take hold of the melody. Sadly, the bass is not often audible, only popping up with the keyboards or at guitar-less parts. But, like every other instrument here, it is full of integrity, and plain awesomeness.

And it shows. It shows through in a set of six excellent tracks (the other two are instrumentals, as you might know by now, and one is just an average song). Not a single one is a hunk of filler. This is all solid instrumentalism, backed by excellent vocals.

But I didn’t mention those vocals yet, did I? THIS is the reason why the album isn’t the average, run-of-the-mill album. Those vocals are the foundation of this album, and damn solid they are, too. Morten Veland’s growling…goodness, where to begin? His growling is some of the harshest, most powerful growling I have ever encountered. Morten tops every other gothic metal growler in my book. (Anders Jacobsson of Draconian comes close, but doesn’t quite get there.) Also being the core songwriter until he left…well, I am at a loss for words. Excellent, excellent, excellent.

Yet, despite the genius of Morten, the album still wouldn’t reach anywhere close to the top peak if it weren’t for Vibeke. I haven’t a clue as of where to start, so think of it like this: If Morten and the rest of the band are the rocky expanse of a snow capped mountain, then Vibeke is the snow. Without her, the beauty element would be next to nonexistent. She is a bit like Floor Jansen in the fact that she takes regular female vocals (Though good female vocals can never be called just “regular”) and mixes them with operatic vocals. But like Liv Kristine, the gentleness and beauty shines. And hell, it shines bright.

So therefore, it’s pretty obvious that the best songs on here are the ones that make the best out of her presence: Pale Enchantress, December Elegy, My Lost Lenore. (Although I do love Wasteland’s Caress, the song that doesn’t really showcase the singing, but I’ll get to that later.) Perhaps the lone exception is Midwintertears. Yes, it has a great vocal part at 4:08, along with the keyboards, but that’s really not saying much when it’s chock full of meandering, boring riffs. But still, it’s not a strictly BAD song. It’s enjoyable enough if I’m in a good mood, and that’s saying something.

My favorite stands as My Lost Lenore. THIS is a prime example of gothic metal at its pinnacle. Keyboards that manage to never get boring no matter how many times they’re repeated (something I haven’t figured out the solution to; repetivity often bores me to death), Vibeke’s never-failing vocals, the trademark growls of Morten, and some prime songwriting. Need I say more?

I think I’d put Wasteland’s Caress second. The second to last song (the last one is the instrumental “…Postludium”, something I find completely unnecessary), it has a sense of definite finality, and I would have preferred this song to be last. Hard-driven guitars, an excellent acoustic guitar interlude, vocals that seem to be a notch above the rest of the album, and keyboards, keyboards, keyboards. Even though female vocals are not showcased too well here, this has grown on me to become one of my favorites.

I haven’t mentioned the other tracks, but those tracks are also filled with the passion, darkness, and unwavering beauty that is the hallmark of the first two albums of this band. Nowadays the fundamentals of gothic metal seem to be broken up and relaid—nowadays you find maggot spawn where you should find, well, gothic metal. And this album most certainly belongs to the latter. And of course, it ended up breeding a host of imitators. But for the real thing, for gothic metal’s definite apex: get this. Have a listen, then you will see exactly what artistry once was, and never will be again.

Highlights: Pale Enchantress, December Elegy, My Lost Lenore, Wasteland’s Caress, Angellore