Review Summary: A fitting swan song from one of the originators of the gothic metal scene of the 90s.
There are times when a certain album or band takes you back to the very first time you listened to it. One of those bands that take me back to an era when I was a young lad looking for music without the assistance of the Internet is Theatre of Tragedy. The reason that I didn’t use the Internet back then is simply because it wasn’t as widespread as it is today; and before you start calling names and using phrases such as “old as dirt”, bear in mind that Theatre of Tragedy’s debut was released in 1995. However, I was lucky enough to be exposed to the band’s music with the help of their 1996 masterpiece Velvet Darkness They Fear
. That album was also my introduction to the gothic scene that was becoming increasingly strong during the 90s and boasted bands such as Anathema, Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Type O Negative and others. At the time of their debut and sophomore release, Theatre of Tragedy were known for their mix of deep male growls and female operatic vocals that became known as “Beauty and the Beast” vocal style. Moreover, in their first three releases they also used predominately Early Modern English in their lyrics; a trait that added to the mystique of the band’s sound.
However, Theatre of Tragedy was one of those bands from the doom/gothic scene that changed their style and evolved with every release of theirs. As a result, from the doom/gothic sound and the “Beauty and the Beast” vocals of their first two releases, they went to a more straightforward gothic third album. However, evolution is not always for the better and as Theatre of Tragedy were gaining fans with their initial three releases, they suddenly lost a large portion of them with their fourth album Musique
. Why? Because they evolved so much that metalheads couldn’t follow their industrial and pop tendencies that dominated Musique
. I was one of those metalheads and since then (2002) I simply lost track of the band.
Fast forward to 2006 and the release of their penultimate album Storm
. Once again, Theatre of Tragedy had evolved but now in a “return to roots” manner. Three years after they parted ways with their lead singer and most beloved member among their fans, Theatre of Tragedy released an album that was closer to their gothic rock sound of Aegis
. Hopefully for some, they finalized this shift with their final album Forever is the World
. The now somewhat older young man that loved their initial albums is content. Granted, their “new” female singer is not as good as Liv Kristine. Liv Kristine’s voice was haunting, cinematic and characterized a whole generation of doom/gothic fans. No one would be as good as Liv Kristine but Forever is the World
is probably Theatre of Tragedy’s best release since Aegis
and this is what matters most.
So, gone are the industrial and electro elements in the band’s attempt to leave Musique
behind once and for all. From the very first track of the album, the listener can experience the doomy and gloomy atmosphere and the “Beauty and the Beast” vocals that made the band dear to so many fans of their 90s material. The ambiance is significantly colder on Forever is the World
and the guitars are definitely doomier rather than industrial but melodic at the same time. The long time fan can easily feel that the band has made a conscious choice with this album to play some gothic music in the manner they did in the past. Moreover, Nell Sigland sounds more confident in her second attempt as the lead singer of the band. Even though she doesn’t provide us with a mind-blowing performance, she complements the rest of the band ideally and her voice is on the spotlight of every track. In addition, there are moments where her voice resembles that of Liv Kristine but overall she sounds colder and more girly than her predecessor on the microphone. Actually, those of you who are familiar with the modern sound of Anathema or even Paradise Lost’s One Second
will find elements of those albums on Forever is the World
. Another element that has returned is the warm sound of band leader and oldest member Raymond Rohonyi.
On the other hand, the presence of deep male growls is very limited as they appear sporadically on three tracks only. In addition, even though the material is very well executed, Theatre of Tragedy could have added a bit more of their character to the final outcome. It’s not that the album sounds generic but they could have done a somewhat better job of infusing it with more piano and death growls as mentioned earlier.
To sum up, Forever is the World
is an album that is bound to be enjoyed not only by lovers of the band’s first period but by fans of gothic metal as well. This is also a fitting end to a band that influenced heavily the atmospheric scene of the 90s but decided to break up simply because their way of living couldn’t coexist with a “rock and roll” lifestyle.