Theatre Of Tragedy is a gothic doom metal band from Stavanger, Norway. They formed in 1993, and have released several albums that could be considered major influences on bands like Tristania, Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation, and Novembers Doom. The band is also one of if not the first band to use the contrast of male and female vocals, having both deep male singing (with frequent death growls) and soprano female singing that we later see running wild in the gothic/ darkwave metal genre. On this album, Velvet Darkness They Fear
, along with their two previous albums, the bands lyrics consist mainly of early modern English writing. By the release of their album Musique
, the band took a drastic change to industrial goth rock, abandoning all early modern English, death growls, and doomy atmospheres. The band’s front woman is most well known as the female vocals on Cradle Of Filth’s hit song Nymphetamine and is also the front woman of the band Leave’s Eyes.
The first track on the album, Velvet Darkness They Fear
, is a one minute long intro track, preparing you for what is to follow with the album. With gothic ambiance and dark keyboard riffs, the intro track immediately tells you that the album is going to be dark, atmospheric, and haunting. Fair & ‘Guiling Copesmate Death
begins with Liv Kristine’s haunting vocals and heavy, doomy guitar riffs. When the male vocalist come in, the mood is changed from haunting to brutal as he lays down some brutal death growls onto the constant strums of the guitar. A sudden silence filled only with gothic ambiance comes in only to burst back into another aura of slow paced, heavy guitar riffs and haunting female vocals. The song then goes to another silence occupied only by a faint violin strum and the male vocalist speaking in Norwegian. The song has a very heavy and atmospheric feel, and definitely sets the standards for the rest of the album.
Bring For Ye Shadow
is another dark track, with melodic guitar and bass strums to start it off, it quickly goes into punishing guitar riffs and brutal death growls, creating a dense atmosphere of gothic madness. The song has some very catchy riffs and bass lines throughout, along with some good breakdowns with soft female vocals and steady drum lines. Probably one of the best tracks on the album, and a good example of what doom metal meets darkwave music should be. The next track, Seraphic Deviltry
, also has a soft intro that ascends into some greatly distorted guitar riffs and a grooving drum line. The song is much like the previous in vocals, but Liv Kristine also does a lot more back ground vocals to add to the atmosphere and giving the song great flow. This song is a lot more straight foreword then the previous two tracks, and even contains some chugging riffs to top it off.
The next track is And When He Falleth
, which has a great piano opening. The song then picks up into a steady drum beat and beautiful female singing, before going into a chugging guitar riff and deep, brutal death growls. The song has a breakdown near the middle win which soft guitar strums are played anc characters of the song’s story speak to each other. The song doesn’t have the most even flow, but has a great feel to it and is overall one of the better tracks of the album, and the heaviest vocally. Der Tanz Der Schatten
is another great, dark track, with deep organs and ambiance in the beginning, the song then jumps into a very Brave Murder Days Katatonia-style riff. Both death vocals mixed with haunting female opera dominate the track (as they do most of the album). The song then breaks down into a German dialogue before returning to the all out doom fest of brutal death growls and dark keyboard riffs. The song out of all the other tracks seems rather jumbled and doesn’t flow the way it should with the album, but still a great track overall.
Black As The Devil Painteth
begins with melodic guitar strums and light, doom style riffs that are fueled with brutal death growls. Surprisingly, the male vocalist dominates most of the track. The song is another heavy track with plenty of chugging riffs, brutal growls, and solemn chants in old English. On Whom The Moon Doth Shine
is what I can describe as a Lacuna Coil track only ‘brutal brutal brutal’. Another tack full of dark, mystical keyboard and ambient atmospheres and beautiful soprano singing from Liv Kristin, though interrupted by heavy male vocals and chugging riffs. The song switches back and forth from heavy chugging riffs, to slow and dark ambiance to sweeping guitar melodies, making for a very diverse and progressive feel.
The Masquerade & The Phoenix
ends the album on a much softer note. Focused mainly only soft guitar strums, light drum lines, and bass riffs, creating a very soothing atmosphere. The song’s melody is interrupted briefly by death growls and sweeping guitar riffs and melodies before going back to it’s soft, innocent sound. After a bunch of sweeping guitar riffs and keyboard melodies, the song goes into an orchestral sound with ascending drum lines and organ sounds. Ending with avery heavy death vocals and guitar riffs, silencing into dark chanting that slowly fades, ending this brilliant display of gothic doom madness. Overall, the album is a near perfect solid 5 star album, with brilliant musicianship and technique and a unique style of both gothic ambiance to near Isis heavy riffs that kept me on the edge of my seat through and through.
-- Great production for an underground album.
-- Great musicianship and vocals.
-- Is noticeable as a classic amongst doom metal.
-- The artwork is something to be desired.
-- The death growls are a bit too brutal for their own good.
-- Unless you know old English, you won’t get this album lyrically.
1. Velvet Darkness The Fear (4.5/5)
2. Fair & ‘Guiling Copesmate Death (4.5/5)
3. Bring For Ye Shadow (5/5)
4. Seraphic Deviltry (4/5)
5. And When He Falleth (4.5/5)
6. Der Tanz Der Schatten (3.5/5)
7. Black As The Devil Painteth (4.5/5)
8. On Whom The Moon Doth Shine (4/5)
9. The Masquerade & The Phoenix (5/5)