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The roots of all greatness - 97%

TommyA, March 7th, 2007

"Widow's Weeds" is Tristania's debut album: the roots of the greatness this band is delivering until this very day. Although their style is always changing, they're still carrying the same Tristania touch that was established in this amazing work of art.

A lot of labels are given to "Widow's Weeds" when it comes to genre. I've seen people labeling it as operatic metal, death metal, doom metal and even black metal. Not one of them describes this album. Just because it contains an operatic female singer and a harsh vocalist, it doesn't make it operatic or death metal. It's the perfect example of gothic metal. It was the first pure gothic metal album. It's the roots of a genre which, today, is overcrowded with less-impressive bands.

Like all Tristania albums, vocals are the highlight. "Widow's Weeds" contains three types of vocals; a harsh male vocalist, an operatic female vocalist and a clean male vocalist. Appearance follows that same order. So, throughout the album, you'll hear Morten's growls more often than the other vocals. However, they're not the irritating screams that a lot of gothic metal bands feature. On "Widow's Weeds", harsh vocals are very well done; they're a pleasure to listen to and you are always able to understand what is being sung. Just listen to "Pale Enchantress" to find the greatness in Veland's voice. Moving on to the female vocals. What can I say? Vibeke Stene is a goddess. Her voice is what I imagine the singing of angels to sound like. If you think I'm exaggerating, you've obviously never heard "December Elegy"; a song which makes you feel like you're in paradise. Last but not least, the clean male vocals. Osten has the kind of voice which adds seriousness and class to a song. Like the other two vocalists, his voice is very powerful and delivers a great amount of emotion. However, he only sings abundantly on "Angellore".

What about the music? To describe it in a single phrase, I'd say it's beautiful heaviness. It can go from the harsh guitars on "Wasteland's Caress", to the serene violin sound on "December Elegy". Einar Moen is the one that impressed me the most. He's an amazingly talented keyboardist who gives an incredibly addicting melody to every track. If you don't believe me, go listen to "My Lost Lenore". He's definitely my favorite keyboardist in metal

This album has no weak songs. All 9 tracks are unique and contain elements which aren't found in others. The songs which I would consider highlights are "December Elegy", "Angellore", "Wasteland's Caress" and "...Postludium". I consider "December Elegy" as a highlight because it's gives you a break from the constant heaviness of the album. It’s amazingly executed with violins and great keyboards. Not to mention the fact that it's one of the best songs in Vibeke's career. "Angellore" is also a highlight. It's somewhat different from the other songs in the album, which is what makes it stand-out. It's mostly guitars (not a lot of bass involved) and violins. However, even though it took a few listens to get into, it's a very addicting track. Moving on to my favorite song of the album; "Wasteland's Caress". This is a heavy track with guitars playing a very big part of the music. The parts from Vibeke leave an exquisite contrast with the constant growls in the song. It's the song I look most forward to hearing when I listen to this album. The final highlight is "...Postludium". It's a very short instrumental track with a choir-sung chorus that sticks in your head. It's probably the catchiest track of the album, not to mention the fact that it ends the album perfectly.

Having said all that, there's actually one track which is slightly less impressive than the others, but by no means weak; "Midwintertears". Even though it has a great combination of the three vocalists, it's just not up to the same perfection as the rest of the songs on the album. Maybe it's due to the fact that it's between two amazing songs that I tend to skip it. However, it's still in the area of excellence.

Overall, "Widow's Weeds" is a great album. Even though Morten did slightly better on Sirenia's debut album "At Sixes and Sevens", this deserves as much praise (given that this was the very first album in his career). "Beyond the Veil", Morten's second album, isn't as good as "Widow's Weeds", yet it's still a good follow-up to this.

So, in conclusion, this album will blow you away. It will transport you to an entirely different world. It has everything a gothic metal album should have. However, I wouldn't recommend this to you if you've never heard Tristania's music. "Beyond the Veil" should be your first Tristania album, but you must get this right after.