Release DetailsLABEL SPV
RELEASED ON 1/25/2007
posted on 2/2007 By:
My only real experience with Tristania came from listening to World of Glass and a few scattered older songs about five years ago. At the time I relished the dark and heavy gothic sound that they were generating, but they stayed under the radar for a few years, and I didn’t take notice of a 2005 release, Ashes. Well, 2007 has arrived, so it is time to investigate what this Norwegian sextet (+1 on the road) has been up to.
Time seems to have mellowed out the band. While their soundscapes are still heavy in parts, the sense of foreboding evil is missing, which results in a talented gothic band that now must contend with a wealth of other female-fronted gothic acts. But that’s not a completely fair characterization, as male vocals (clean and unclean) play a prominent role – close to a 50/50 split amongst the genders. Vibeke has a silky voice that we can come to expect from European bands, falling between the operatic highs of Tarja (ex-Nightwish), and the authentic delivery of After Forever’s Floor. Whichever guy does the clean singing has a great voice, low and droning like Paul of Novembers Doom.
There are a few songs that stay heavy, an example being the opener “Mercyside”. But muffled production on the low-end tones blunt whatever fire they are trying to spark, leaving the harsh vocals to carry the mood. “Open Ground” is another of the harder tracks on Illumination, and in this one, rumbling bass guitar and thin, mid-pitched lead guitar drives the tune. Those songs are completely juxtaposed by “The Ravens” and “Fate”, which come off as surprisingly good doom metal, replete with entrancing clean guitar and droning vocals. Countering both of those styles are a few songs that are mid-paced, synthesizer-heavy, and that feature bombastic operatic singing. Some of these, like “Destination Departure”, are simply a showcase for Vibeke’s pipes.
Illumination has not bowled me over as I was hoping, considering their scaled-back energy. But, their new and restrained sound can hold its own with some of the better acts of the gothic metal subgenre like Trail of Tears and After Forever. Rabid gothic fans probably already own this release, but casual fans of this style should proceed with caution.
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