Theatre Of Tragedy
Velvet Darkness They Fear


5.0
classic

Review

by Seth T. White (Cravinov13) USER (61 Reviews)
June 13th, 2006 | 50 replies


Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist


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.

Pros
-- 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.

Cons
-- The death growls are a bit too brutal for their own good.
-- Unless you know old English, you won’t get this album lyrically.

Track Listing
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)



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Thor
June 13th 2006


10201 Comments


Pretty solid review, but it would have been a little bit better if you drew some sort of conclusion at the end. I know that you love this album because of your rating, but it would just be nice to see that in writing. Keep up the good work, though.

Cravinov13
June 13th 2006


3854 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I guess I could put a conclusion at the end. *strokes chin*

EDIT: Done!This Message Edited On 06.13.06

TheDevilsOwn
June 13th 2006


91 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

wow, I thought I was the only person who even knew who this band was. This is a great album, but you are right that the brutal vocals don't really fit a lot of the music.

Det_Nosnip
June 13th 2006


374 Comments


Although Theatre of Tragedy were an important early influence in the scene, they definitely weren't the first band to feature female vocals contrasted with grunts. Paradise Lost did that on their classic 1991 album "Gothic," and I believe that the Gathering messed around with it a bit during their pre-Anneke days.

Other than that, very nice review. This Message Edited On 06.13.06

Cravinov13
June 13th 2006


3854 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

That's why I said 'one of' in there, cause I wasn't sure. Thanks though.

Scoot
June 13th 2006


17844 Comments


I'll check them out, they sound great.

Digging: The Smith Street Band - Throw Me In The River

Shattered_Future
June 13th 2006


1541 Comments


I really, REALLY dislike this band. I have no idea why...they just seem to drag on and on.

Cravinov13
June 13th 2006


3854 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

are you not into progressive? or is it just the way this band works? *you could be thinking about their new stuff, which is kinda crappy compared to this album*

Shattered_Future
June 13th 2006


1541 Comments


I have Aegis, which is supposed to be their crowning moment...it almost falls into a later era My Dying Bride rut, in that it just goes on aimlessly and has riffs that last too long.

TEST
June 13th 2006


15 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've been listening to them for a while. Storm is their best album though.

Nice review.

Tarantino's Tarantulas
June 14th 2006


819 Comments


To the Guy who mentioned Paradise Lost - what are they like cos theyre supporting Opeth (Fvcking Love 'em) in November?

Det_Nosnip
June 14th 2006


374 Comments


Well, nowadays they're a little more polished. No more grunts/growls...I guess that Nick got sick of that whole thing. Still pretty good, though. A fair bit of electronics are used as well.

I'd recommend checking out either "Draconian Times" or "Icon." "Believe in Nothing" is also a decent album. Their latest album, "Paradise Lost," is a little bit of a return to form, featuring more of an emphasis on riffing and somewhat heavier tracks. They've ocassionally been compared to later days Katatonia.

Tarantino's Tarantulas
June 14th 2006


819 Comments


OK, sounds quite decent, I quite like Katatonia, so Ill check these guys out sometime.

Wave.Existance.Tears
June 21st 2006


72 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"I really, REALLY dislike this band. I have no idea why...they just seem to drag on and on."
Oh, that's right...
*checks profile*
Mainstream power-prog? Explains these comments, I suppose. Although I'll give you this much-much of new MDB sucks, or at least is no match for the classic material.

Yeah, Paradise Lost were one of the firsts, along with Funeral I believe.
ToT made it popular. Then bands like Lacuna made it fashionable.

Trek into PL with caution. If you like Opeth and such (meaning you can tolerate growls/singing dynamic), you can also start with Gothic. I havent heard much of their stuff besides that and the new stuff, + Shades of God. I like Shades of God, As I Die is a great song. However, some of their new stuff sucks: trying to expand with experimentation and electronics, the songs are just way too poppy and pointless, etc.
new Katatonia >>>>>> new PL
And Anathema is really cool also if you like Katatonia and Opeth, any era really.
Novembre is okay. A little overrated.


Wave.Existance.Tears
June 21st 2006


72 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

As for the review??

Another one of mine...*cough*

Okay. Here's my bones with it:
-It was loosely correct with goth-doom at the beginning. But calling it straight doom metal is too far (a la the end of the review). If anything, this is much more towards the goth side of the spectrum. Goth metal is pretty much an offshoot of doom/death that lightens up the music quite a bit, brightens up the hellish atmosphere a touch, and makes the music much more melodic than the early doom/death with keys, more mainstream-abilities (song structure too), and those female vox that are supposed to be angelic and pretty. Usually they suck. Lacuna Coil sucks. Tristiana goes nowhere in any given song, and furthermore suck. ToT is decent here and before this album, but sucks just as bad as the aforementioned later. They turned into electronica for a while, and not a good sort like Ulver. Storm sees them back it seems, but I havent heard it yet.
-ToT is not heavy. Nor is it brutal. Its floaty, dreamy and atmospheric, but not as accomplished as 3rd and the Mortal I'd say. And neither are in a psychedelic sense. The production here takes any possible heaviness out, the guitars are low but plodding and soft at the same time, and the growls are some of the most unimpressive here that you will ever see. Might be production, but I doubt it. To keep the dreamy, velvety quality, and to not completely kill the pretty pixie voice of Liv (not necessary an insult), I bet. I heard some of the first album, and the growls were much more...doom/death-ey, I suppose.
But yeah, brutal Lacuna Coil? Yeah, okay. LC has soiled themselves into nu-metal material with this new album, anyway. Marks off the review, I say.
-Even with the flaws, the generally good writing and atmosphere bring this album to its high status. The actual songs are what counts in the end. Too bad some of the actual songs DO drag on a touch too much. The main reason I attacked shattered future was because s/he made it sound like it was ALL the songs on the album, and then said other bands too (MDB...). So I apologized. I just assumed it was ignorance at first glance...
-A 4.

Wave.Existance.Tears
June 21st 2006


72 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Of course, he gave one of the best tracks on the CD a lower mark than all the rest because it was sang in german.
woot.
OF COURSE, the irony lies in that he takes German at school
LAWLZ

Also, the Old Eng. makes it hard to read only a few lines here and there. You can still understand the lyrics.

And no one f***ing studies Old Eng. as a lingo anymore.

Last point-as I said earlier, these growls are barely growls. Brutal my @ss, Seth. What Seth does is a growl that tries to be HxC, and sure, its powerful, but is completely lacking of any emotion whatsoever. He used to be my bandmate. He's a terrible one at that; doesn't respect others views, tries to take over, removes stuff from the recordings without asking, goes out with your ex within a day or two, and all the while claims you to be his best friend.

~Wave.

Cravinov13
June 23rd 2006


3854 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I could say the same for you. And stop being so immature as to bring your little hissy fits to Sputnik.

Wave.Existance.Tears
June 23rd 2006


72 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

*cough*
They hate you here.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
June 23rd 2006


16089 Comments


No one gives a shit to be perfectly honest.

Wave.Existance.Tears
June 23rd 2006


72 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

True.

And I couldn't give a shit if I was banned, considering I visit here about once every 3 months.
I have better things to do.
And better yet, better review sites.
And less prudish forums.



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