Written by: PP on 05/02/2007 12:29:12

The followers of the gothic metal scene have been awaiting for the highly anticipated new Tristania album for over a year and a half eagerly, and not without justification. The band's earlier work combined with their magical liveshow filled with mysterious dancing and beauty/uglyness dynamics has lifted them onto a similar status that Nightwish has been enjoying for years now. Tristania has always been known for releasing quality goth metal, and their fifth album "Illumination" sees the band continuing on the same path as their last two albums.

For those unfamiliar with Norway's Tristania, they fit into the cliche goth metal description one hundred percent. A frontwoman capable of reaching nearly operatic scales? Check. Dark male vocals and occasional growls? You bet. Industrial meets power metal style guitars? Nothing surprising here either. All the basic ingredients are there to underline their genre-loyalty, and consequently it is unsurprising to find bands like Trail Of Tears, Nightwish and Therion on a list of bands they have toured with in the past.

This raises the obvious question of how does "Illumination" compare with the releases of the other heavyweights in the genre? While it certainly isn't "Wishmaster" or even "Griefshire", "Illumination" still has some unforgettable melodies and soothing originality in songs like "Open Ground". Vibeke's theatrical vocals are the carrying force throughout the album, and more or less the only reason why anyone should be interested in the band or their music. Because lets be honest here, while the slow songs like "The Raven" are darker than the night and the midtempo, more folk-influenced tracks such as "Down" have some catchy bits here and there, without Vibeke's occasionally unbeliavably soft and silky vocal work this band wouldn't be enjoying the attention it is. One only needs to skip to "Destination Departure" to witness the true magnificence of Vibeke's voice, as the majority of the song is dedicated to her operatic aria at the kind of heights most people could only dream of reaching. While this song perhaps isn't as metal as it is rock/pop, it is not surprising to realize it as the best song on the album given the fact that it is here where Vibeke is allowed to use her voice to the fullest.

This leads me into the reason why "Illumination" won't reach the upper quartile of ratings anywhere on the net. Many of the songs fail to take full use of Vibeke's vocal talent as demonstrated on the aforementioned song and instead opt for using the darker male vocals in the verses. This isn't a new problem either--in my opinion all their releases since the 1999 classic "Beyond The Veils" have been plagued this--but with that being said, "Illumination" isn't a bad release by any means. When Vibeke is allowed her chances, you'll feel like under a spell, which is probably what the band aimed for in the first place. It's just unfortunate it isn't used more.

Download: Destination Departure, Open Ground
For the fans of: Nightwish, Elis, Trail Of Tears, The Gathering
Listen: Myspace

Release date 22.01.2007
Provided by Target ApS

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