Release DetailsLABEL Napalm Records
RELEASED ON 2/28/2005
Trail of Tears
Free Fall Into Fear
posted on 3/2005 By:
Just last week I reviewed the Blood Red Throne new album and commented on how Tchort seems to be on a number of new releases at the moment. Now I get to review an album that features his Green Carnation vocalist, Kjetil Nordhus, another guy who seems to be everywhere lately, between his lead vocals on the new G.C., Chain Collector’s recent EP, and this release from Trail of Tears. At least he splits the vocals here, handling the clean singing, while Ronny brings a black metalish scream to the table.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I have briefly heard the name mentioned before, so for the rest of you, Trail of Tears are usually described as gothic metal. Don’t expect any over-the-top, operatic female-sung fluff on this album though. The music here is aggressive at times, compelling, and driven. Some songs sound like hard rock with black metal dropped on top of it, while others sound like heavier versions of Kjetil’s other bands. The gothic tag is probably applied due to the moderate use of keyboards and other electronic sound effects, as well as some of guitar structures. They also used to have a female vocalist on past albums, so I’m guessing that the label has just stuck. Think of them as a more accessible Tristania, with clean male vocals substituting for female vocals.
Songs vary in style, so it’s best to look at a few differing examples. “Cold Hand of Retribution” bounces from blasty black to grooving rock with a peculiar synth effect in the background, all done very well. “Joyless Trance of Winter” starts off with booming chords played over a dark keyboard line while Ronny barks. This leads into a thrashy piece before giving way to a clean-sung chorus with haunting synths. “Carriers of the Scars of Life” starts off with an out-of-place sludgy riff, then into an oddball chorus with Kjetil crooning while drums blast, Ronny screams, and a synth plays out a sorrowful tune. Meaty riffs and creepy keys fill out the remainder. A couple of the tracks fall flat, but on the whole, they succeed.
On Freefall Into Fear, Trail of Tears brings together a number of differing metal styles, but they have the maturity to pull it together in a coherent way that seems perfectly sensible. I’ve only heard the one older song (“Sign of the Shameless”) that they have for download on their site, so I can’t say how they’ve changed from the older albums, but if that song is any indication, they have become heavier, more direct and powerful, in their sound, abandoning some of the traditional gothic trappings. Because of that apparent shift, I’d recommend Trail of Tears to the general metal community, not just the goth-metal crowd.
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