Tristania
Illumination


4.0
excellent

Review

by Altmer USER (175 Reviews)
June 14th, 2007 | 16 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist


In a genre that is becoming stale and plagued with copycat bands playing the same style of female-fronted metal, some of the old dogs are still playing and making the music. Tristania, one of the early bands to play this style, have solidified their reputation over the years with albums such as Beyond the Veil and Widow's Weeds. Morten Veland, the band's original songwriter, may have left, but the band has recovered since and it has been full throttle ahead after that. After the acclaimed Ashes release in 2005, Tristania were challenged with writing a succesful follow-up, which would be released in 2007, and that would be... exactly, this Illumination release.

Well, Tristania has someone in specific to thank for their success. Now ex-singer Vibeke Stene is an unbelievable megahot chick from Norway, and on top of that, she sings gorgeous operatic vocals, in a register above that of Tarja even. Many of the songs on here are carried by her vocal operatics, mostly contrasted with Berg√ły's baritone vocals, but also, as on Destination Departure, a gorgeous ballad, by her alone most of the time. She hits those high notes with pride and majesty, and she can just leave the low stuff to another singer, which is an excellent combination.

Musically it's nothing overly interesting or complex that you're going to see from the band. The riffs are clearly metal but they don't churn or chug; they sound a bit muffled and put to the background. The band also doesn't use any symphonic orchestras (they do use keys though.) It's a bit more modest, but for all the operatic bombast and grandeur the style is known for, it works amazingly well; Tristania are simply the more honest, down-to-earth version of gothic metal posterboys/girls Within Temptation. And that approach to the music just shows that you don't have to bring in a damn orchestra just to sound good and gloss over your shortcomings.

Song-wise, the album isn't huge on variety, but there are some interesting experiments. Occasionally grunts are used, courtesy of Vorph (from Samael), for when simple baritone vocals aren't good enough. This is done on some of the heavier tracks, such as pummeling opener Mercyside, or the amazing Down. However, there is one song that also is heavy that definitely steals the show on this album. That is the amazing Sacrilege; probably one of the only songs on here to contain some pure furor, mainly directed against the misguidings of Christianity (how original.) The guitars churn, the drums just banish, and the unmistakable duet vocal lines just keep you enthralled all the way through this magnificent song.

But for most of the album, the band doesn't stick to those dark, downtuned guitars. The major thing about this album is that the band resorts to ambient music as the backdrop for the metal side of the band. This mellows the album down and mitigates the heaviness, giving the album more of a rock feel rather than a metal feel. As a consequence, the variance between more midtempo songs (Lotus for example), and slow tracks (Deadlands), allows for just enough mellowness to creep in for you to relax and enjoy this album. It isn't a headbanging experience, this is music you could just play everywhere basically because it's not excessively heavy, not excessively provoking, it's just nice and beautiful gothic metal.

I don't know if all this could lead one to conclude that Tristania have released another winning album over their lengthy career. However the band does show with this album that they are on top of the gothic/female-fronted metal heap, and continue to release good album after good album. Tristania may not be honoured for doing something special, but at least this band continues to pump out good and consistent music. And that alone should be enough for any fan of the style to purchase this platter of well-made metal.



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user ratings (66)
Chart.
3.5
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
cSsteFa
June 14th 2007


47 Comments


Good review, could have used some bolds.

antihippy
June 14th 2007


696 Comments


good review.

doesn't sound like a band for me though.

Confessed2005
June 14th 2007


4513 Comments


I really can't get into any female fronted metal bands.

At all. I can dig Arch Enemy (but even they were a ton better with Johan IMO).

Cool review though.

Cravinov13
June 14th 2007


3854 Comments


Ashes was better then this IMO.

Altmer
June 14th 2007


5701 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I am getting Ashes in a couple days. It'll probably give me an alternate viewpoint. Right now I'm digging this.

Cravinov13
June 14th 2007


3854 Comments


Just like all Tristania though, it has it's downpoints.

Altmer
June 14th 2007


5701 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah pretty much but this album is pretty cool :D

Altmer
September 12th 2007


5701 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this album ages like shit btw

BallsToTheWall
November 27th 2007


48999 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Is this a good album to start with from?

Digging: Protector - Golem

Zoo
November 27th 2007


3759 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Who the fuck negged this?

[quote=Altmer]this album ages like **** btw[/quote]

I agree. Still very good though.

BallsToTheWall
July 17th 2008


48999 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Album is good but yes, what zoo said. Sacrilege and Mercyside rule however. Trying to write up a review for the masterpiece Beyond The Veil is. And the lack of Tristania on this site makes me a sad panda.

BallsToTheWall
April 15th 2009


48999 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This album has aged on me, for the betetr actually. The Ravens is aamzing.

jrowa001
April 15th 2009


8752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

album is ok. havent listened to it for a while though. might listen to The RavensThis Message Edited On 04.15.09

BallsToTheWall
April 15th 2009


48999 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yah, The Ravens, Sacrilege and Mercyside are turning into some of my favorite Tristania tarcks. Underrated album is underrated. Morten doesn't know what he's missing by ditching this band for the crappiess of Sirenia.

pizzamachine
September 7th 2009


13873 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm liking Tristania 'cause of the trippy, gloomy vocals. Might get this album.

OllieS
November 15th 2009


2145 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

'Musically it's nothing overly interesting or complex that you're going to see from the band. Tristania are simply the more honest, down-to-earth version of gothic metal posterboys/girls Within Temptation.'



This is just so funny to me when I think of what they were like with Morten Veland (first 2 albums).



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