Release DetailsLABEL Napalm Records
RELEASED ON 1/30/2007
Trail of Tears
posted on 4/2007 By:
Maybe it's the fact that I am not a goth metal scenester, but the raspy approach to vocals on Trail of Tears' Existentia seems relatively unique to me. I say this because the strongest element of the album is not the music so much as the variety of vocals (female clean, male clean, male raspy, etc.).
Trail of Tears, a band that apparently had four of its members drop out just before Existentia's release, is so genre-specific that I can't imagine anyone who doesn't have a sizable collection of dark gothic metal albums will pick up any of their efforts, including this one. The familiar thriving pulse of synth-happy dreariness is comforting but shallow, and with song titles like "Venom Inside My Veins," "The Closing Walls," "Empty Room" and "Shades of Yesterday," you know things aren't going to get any deeper with the lyrics. I had such high hopes after listening to the excellent opening track, "Deceptive Mirrors," but the pounding aggression seems to be exclusive to the album's first four and a half minutes. The aforementioned "Venom Inside My Veins" is another mid-paced heavy track with even stronger vocals, but you could say that about any aggressive song on the album. These songs bleed! The slower songs fare worse. "My Comfort" is the strongest of the bunch because the vocals are actually complemented by some memorable hooks. Of course, it's an exception, as the rest either sound phoned in and devoid of passion.
I have heard a few complaints about this band, the one constant being that they are unabashedly picking Nightwish's lint and pawning it on the black market. Not so. As catchy and accessible as both bands are, Nightwish is more symphonic and far less dark than its Scandinavian brethren in Trail of Tears. However minimal, there is a very subtle but clear and present thread of black metal being strung throughout Existentia, and I think its inclusion is to the band's benefit as it distances them from those playing less complicated and distinctive gothic music. Unfortunately, the songwriting is so formulaic that it negates any originality the group once possessed. It's a shame, because I feel Trail of Tears is working with the right palette but painting with predictable strokes.
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