Review Summary: Radically different from the previous two albums, Aegis is still an excellent gothic metal offering that surprised critics and fans alike at the time of its release.
As in real life, evolution is a natural process that usually affects bands and their music. For every Manowar that haven’t changed even remotely there’s an Anathema and for every Motorhead there’s an Amorphis. Even though I love all four of the aforementioned bands, evolution may not always be for the better. Aegis
is one of those interesting cases of albums that are considered polarizing because when it came out in 1998, fans of the band simply didn’t know how to feel. It was so different that at the time it alienated a number of diehard fans who loved Theatre of Tragedy for their work on their self titled release and the colossal Velvet Darkness They Fear
is not only an evolution of Theatre of Tragedy’s sound but a significant change in style. Gone is the combination of death and doom metal with the harsh guitars but more importantly gone is the band’s trademark “Beauty and the Beast” vocals. There are almost no death growls on Aegis
and Liv Kristine’s role is significantly reduced (a direct result of her leaving Norway to live in Germany?). Moreover, the haunting sound of piano that contributed so much to the atmosphere of the first two albums is replaced by keyboards. The music on Aegis
is very influenced by the likes of Sisters of Mercy, The Fields of the Nephilim and The Mission. Therefore, the music on this album is more gothic oriented, sadder and colder rather than aggressive and cinematic. Nevertheless, Aegis
is still a heavy metal album and a very atmospheric one while with a quick glimpse to the song titles one can see that they consist from female names as on Cocteau Twins’ Treasure
. What is important about this album is that the change doesn’t sound forced. Theatre of Tragedy may be entering a different path but the transition sounds very natural and the outcome is more than positive. So even though Aegis
is very different than the band’s previous albums, it’s still an excellent offering.
In a nutshell, Aegis
is a very significant album on Theatre of Tragedy’s discography as it signifies the end of the band’s most successful period artistically. At the same time, it serves as a fine example of change done right. Even though diehard fans may have trouble getting into this album, it’s certainly recommended to fans of gothic metal and bands such as Tiamat and Moonspell.