Tristania - Widow's Weeds review
03. Pale Enchantress
04. December Elegy
07. My Lost Lenore
08. Wasteland's Caress
Well, well, well…Tristania's Widow's Weeds. It is about time I wrote a review for one of my beloved albums. So, I will try to sum up the majesty of this album in these lines.
Widow's Weeds is the first full-length of Tristania. The band was formed two years earlier by Einar Moen-keys, Keneth Olsson-drums and Morten Veland-guitars/vocals. Morten was the main figure behind Tristania back then. After a self-titled EP in 1997 that got rave reviews around Europe they signed a record deal with Napalm records and started preparing this masterpiece.
Searching for influences, the one that comes to mind is Theatre of Tragedy, the pioneering gothic metal act also from Norway. However, Tristania is in no way a copy of Theatre of Tragedy, they have a sound of their own, adding violin in most of their songs and choir arrangements. A style that so many bands play nowadays but none really succeeds at.
But let's take a closer look into the album itself. Widow's Weeds starts off with "Preludium…," an intro where bells are heard and chants by some choir are sung to get the listener to the essence of the album. "Evenfall" is a great song, grunts by Morten, violin, mid paced tempo and a catchy chorus with both male and female vocals. "Pale Enchantress" is another opus. Again, harsh vocals, inspired use of keys and an outstanding closing where the music slows down and Vibeke sings some words. "December Elegy" (the title shows what the song is about) slowly starts with female vocals, keys and drums while both grunts and blackish screams appear in the chorus. Perfection! "Midwinter Tears" continues the saga. 'Shadow cast upon my heart…' screams Morten and delivers you into other landscapes, darker and more beautiful. Again, an unbelievable song with the rhythm stuck in your head for a long time. "Angellore" is a fine track with clean male vocals by Osten Bergoy who would become later a member of the band. "My Lost Lenore" is purely just so beautiful and sad. Words cannot describe this song. Intelligent use of keyboards, amazing riffs, heart rendering performances, the highlight of the album.
As the album comes to an end we find Wasteland's Caress, probably the heaviest song. It is a rather long (about 8 min) and has some ambient sounds as an intro. Fast paced with almost only male vocals, death grunts and blackish screams. One of the best riffs is here. Speechless was I left when I first listened to this song and I listened too it over and over again. It's perfect for the ending. "…Postludium" is the outro where chants are heard again.
The performance of the band is incredible. The atmosphere it creates and the emotional impact is impeccable. Vibeke may not have the best voice but she sounds so frail, fragile and enchanting that no other vocalist would perform better. Morten screams with such passion. The slightly scratched guitars accompany the voices and the keyboards give another tone in the album. The choirs only appear occasionally when they are needed. Morten's lyrics are among the best I've read, so deep, personal, beautiful and poetic. The use of archaic English is wonderfully adding points to the already amazing lyrical work.
The production is just what is needed, maybe not the clearest but it gives a special feeling. The artwork from the cove, booklet and the back cover is absolutely great and fitting the music.
I highly recommend this album not only to gothic or melodic metal fans but generally to the ones that can appreciate such a brilliant piece of art. It's an album that changed my life from the first listen. If only the band had kept like that in their other releases…
|After the release of their self-titled EP, Tristania became a part of a rising label at that time (1998), Napalm Records. They started working on their long-awaited debut album since "Tristania" had received good critics from the music press. And, yes, during 1998, the debut album of Tristania, "Widow's Weeds," saw the light of day and became one of those sparkling jewels in the world of gothic metal, one of those albums that always shines for their unique feeling and beauty!
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