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Tristania - Illumination

Label: SPV USA
Format: CD
Released: 2007
Reviewed By: The Goat

There was a period in extreme metal when majority of Norway's metal scene went weird. A great number of Black Metal bands exhibited a broader sound and diversity reigned supreme. It seemed that the next epic black doom metal band was being sought.


Tristania was one of these bands. Their original sound was comparable to My Dying Bride but with a female vocalist than a male. They incorporated some of the elements that made MY Dying Bride truly great, such as violins and depressive lyrics and themes. They were dark and had this sadness to them that was unparalleled. "Beyond the Veil" was a classic in all respects.

I lost interest after the lackluster release "World of Glass". There was something missing about the album and it no longer had the same appeal. Perhaps, I had heard enough female fronted gothic metal or perhaps it just didn't suit my needs. Tristania, in my mind, was just a flash in the pan. As a result, I completely missed "Ashes".

If "Ashes" is anything like "Illumination", then I am a fool. "Illumination" has hit me squarely between the eyes. It is simply an amazing album. It is the logical progression from where "Beyond the Veil" left off (and I say this without any awareness of where "Ashes" stands in this progression). It is a masterful creation of gothic metal. Vibeke Stene's vocals sound so amazing, sort of like across between Anneke from The Gathering and Tarja, formerly of Nightwish. sten Bergy's vocals sound like Pedro from Moonspell (but without the Portuguese accent). These two voices compliment each other in such a dramatic way.

‘The Ravens’ is such an amazing song. It captures the melancholia of the best doom metal. The guitars drive the song to its finally slow churn, which is so remarkably fulfilling. ‘Down’ demonstrates an urgency that will capture your soul and not let go until it has squeezed its lifesblood out of it. Hear, Vibeke's soaring voice over the churning and whirling guitars, and deny it does not stir your melancholic innards. Lotus is another song that exhibits Tristania at its peak performance and power.

If you like Madder Mortem, The Gathering, The Crest, early Theatre of Tragedy, starofash, you must, absolutely must include this album in your collection.

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