Tristania - Illumination review


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Band: Tristania
Album: Illumination
Release date: January 2007

01. Mercyside
02. Sanguine Sky
03. Open Ground
04. The Ravens
05. Destination Departure
06. Down
07. Fate
08. Lotus
09. Sacrilege
10. In The Wake [bonus]
11. Ab Initio [bonus]
12. Deadlands

So, Tristania have changed their face more than Joan Rivers -- we all know that. That being said, their 2007 release Illumination is probably the best sampling of the various flavors the band has offered during their 14-year run. Tag-team vocals range from guttural growls to Østen Bergøy's clean-yet-sinister sneer, while Vibeke Stene's angelic trills float above the fray with virginal vulnerability.

Comparisons to the pulsations of goth-rockers like Fields Of The Nephilim and Sisters Of Mercy are apparent at first listen. However, with time and repetition, a sorrowful scorn reminiscent of Christian Death begins to rear its head. But with all the goth-rock comparisons, do not be confused: this is a metal record. It sounds more like Theatre Of Tragedy's Aegis than The Cure's Pornography. The guitar riffs are metallic and driving while the bass-work sets the tone with uncanny forcefulness and ferocity. There is at least as much attitude on this record as there is sadness.

The album's standout track, "The Ravens," encompasses the full spectrum of emotion and energy present on Illumination. The lyrics present the song as the last stand of a man who is cursed and condemned. Despite a hint of sorrow, the author remains unrepentant and steadfast in the face of a bleak and eternal future, proclaiming "I will not kneel!" Other standouts include "Down," "Lotus," and "Sacrilege."

Overall a powerful and engrossing statement of sorrow and anger, Illumination is highly focused and a solid, albeit somewhat inconsistent effort from one of the true chameleons of Gothic metal. Tristania's musicianship is at its soundest; the band's moods are at their most sincere. While Illumination falls far short of the band's masterpiece full-length debut Widow's Weeds, it is certainly a better example of the band's sprawling decade-and-a-half career, and a must-have for any fan of Gothic metal.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 6
Production: 9

Written by saw_you_drown | 07.05.2011


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Guest review by
Tristania - a band name that used to (and indeed still should) stroke the libido of any self respecting gothic-metalhead. Mr. Veland left the band a long time ago, and shot me down in flames if you wish, but I have no problems with that. For me "World of Glass" outshone "Beyond the Veil", and even "Widow's Weeds" in terms of diversity and songwriting, and Tristania remained a force to be reckoned with.

published 20.02.2008 | Comments (8)

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