Theatre Of Tragedy
|©1995 Massacre Records
1. A Hamlet For A Slothful Vassal
2. Cheerful Dirge
3. To These Words I Beheld No Tongue
4. Hollow-hearted, Heart-departed
5. ...A Distance There Is...
6. Sweet Art Thou
8. Dying - I Only Feel Apathy
Although dark metal bands featuring a light or soprano female vocalist dueting with a grunting death metal styled male singer are in abundance through the heavy metal world, Theatre of Tragedy seems to be the cornerstone and standard setting band to whom all others are compared. Whether this is a good standard or not is entirely up to the listener as what Theatre of Tragedy does on their debut is not particularly the most stimulating and exciting music you'll ever hear.
The original Theatre of Tragedy sound is one that incorporates slow, heavy guitar riffs, keyboard underscoring and of course the vocal interplay between Liv Kristine and Raymond Rohonyi. The sound quality is thick and very large in scale but what slows much of this album down is that the songs aren't always the type to reach out and encourage the listener to be intrigued, excited or even mildly amused. Liv Kristine occasionally sounds completely out of her element as her airy voice clashes with the heavier passages. It is on the more serene, piano based "...A Distance There Is..." that she truly shines and finds the proper music for her voice. Elsewhere there is too much competition for dark and heavy sound to completely sound a part of things.
While Theatre of Tragedy is not a bad album, there does seem to be a feeling that a true catalyst for the dark and gothy music has not been found. Yet, this album and band seems to be the holder of the flame for comparisons within the style. There are certainly more interesting examples of the style out there. Theatre of Tragedy is meant more for those who feel this style is their favorite within the metal genre and not necessarily for those who aren't as easily impressed.
Review by John Chedsey
Review date: 01/2001
|©1996 Century Media
1. Velvet Darkness They Fear
2. Fair & 'Guiling Copesmate Death
3. Bring Forth Ye Shadow
4. Seraphic Deviltry
5. And When He Falleth
6. Der Tanz Der Schatten
7. Black As The Devil Painteth
8. On Whom The Moon Doth Shine
9. Masquerader & Phoenix
Theatre of Tragedy has often been described as a band with great but tragically unrealized potential. This album fits the "unrealized" description to a T; however, it fails to even hint at the band's alleged "potential". Theatre of Drudgery would be more appropriate.
The songs are undifferentiated, ponderous, lengthy affairs characterized by plodding metal guitar riffs, alternating waifish and grunty vocals, very rigidly performed Counterpoint-101 instrumental sections, and the occasional hackneyed spoken sample. The grunt vocals are run-of-the-mill doom/death fare, and Liv Kristine's timbre and vocal technique are thoroughly unremarkable and underpowered. The vocal melodies sound like rough drafts of amateurish keyboard lines that the keyboardist stumbled upon once by accident and listlessly wrote down lest he was unable to compose anything more compelling. What is more, the vocal lines do not pay any attention to the semi-interesting dissonant shifts in the underlying chords, and many a note is jarringly out of place, as if the vocal track had been slapped onto the wrong song. Trying to tell any two songs apart is an impossible challenge, worthy of a spot on Survivor III: The Glum Drabness of European Doom Metal.
What I fear is not Velvet Darkness (Allan Holdsworth's underappreciated debut solo album); it is another encounter with this ditchwater-dull piece of boredom.
Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier
Review date: 12/2001
|©1998 Century Media
Theatre of Tragedy are one of those hopelessly downtrodden doom bands; slow, croaking, utterly poisonous musical poetry, lamenting "dark, beautiful women" and generally all things dramatic and/or depressing. But wait! Progression is afoot. Vocalist Raymond has opted for a sort "speak-talk" as opposed to either grunting and grumbling (this album's predecessor) or actual singing (hopefully this album's successor). Such is the only quibble I have; the music is nicely executed gothic metal with all the atmospheric trimmings and Liv Kristine's crystal-clear soprano ought to be heard...but Raymond, guy, climb off the fence, pick a style, and go with it. I mean, this performance could've been phoned in whilst doing the laundry and watering the plants or something. So when the curtains are drawn, the impression that I get is one of highly interesting, if slightly flawed musical drama. Fans of the band should not be disappointed, but still, too much unrealized potential.
Review by Lee Steadham
Review date: 01/1999
|©2000 Massacre Records
3. Lorelei (Icon Of Coil Remix)
4. The Masquerader And Phoenix (Phoenix Mix)
5. On Whom The Moon Doth Shine (unhum Mix)
6. Der Tanz Der Schatten (club Mix)
Inperspective is an ironically titled EP featuring some remixes and random recordings from Norway's Theatre of Tragedy. Although this band is most often the point of comparison for any metal band featuring male death vocals paired with clean female singing, Theatre of Tragedy has toiled away in the land of highly generic music for pretty much their entire existence. Certainly they have been capable of a few good songs in their day, but you know all about that theory of a thousand monkeys at a thousand typewriters. This EP features one song from Aegis, an unreleased track and then a bevy of remixed songs from various studio albums. The thing that is most striking is when their music is deconstructed and put to a techno/electronic backing, it suddenly becomes much, much more interesting than anything they have accomplished on their own. In particular, the remixes of "The Masquerade and Phoenix" and "On Whom the Moon Doth Shine" are very well executed pieces of club dance music with very little of Theatre of Tragedy's style (beyond perhaps vocals melodies) intact. So when a band's best performance happens to be a remix, you must realize there is something fishy in Denmark, er, Norway. This EP definitely does put things Inperspective and helps one along to an epiphany that Theatre of Tragedy should probably avoid making their own music.
Review by John Chedsey
Review date: 03/2002
|©2000 Nuclear Blast
2. City Of Light
11. Space Age
12. The New Man (Bonus Track)
Some metal bands are able to make a leap from their original doom oriented musical base to a more technology friendly and gothic based style without actually sounding like complete and utter goofballs. A prime example of that is Paradise Lost, who made a significant jump into an updated and heavier 80s goth style on One Second. Other bands are not quite so skilled as to create a gothic edged music without coming across as a near parody.
Theatre of Tragedy, over time, has gotten quite far away from their original doom metal style featuring the excellent vocals of Liv Kristine and death metal vocals of Raymond I. Rohonniy. Their last album, Aegis, showed Raymond slowly moving away from his original style with some degree of success. However, all that has been lost on Musique, their latest foray. This album is the sound of a band in trouble. Apparently the band is trying to create a technology vs. music concept on the album and unfortunately they come off as robots from a horrendous 50s sci-fi movie. Remember that robot from the TV show, Buck Rogers in the 24th Century? That should give you an idea of the camp value Theatre of Tragedy captures on Musique. Raymond sounds supremely silly, to be frank. His vocal contribution is a flat, goofy robotic monotone and fails entirely to convey the lyrics with any sort of panache. Liv, on the other hand, sounds positively bored and runs through her lines with little enthusiasm. Often the band sounds as though they discovered Kraftwerk but really had no idea how to be properly influenced by them. Keyboards and futuristic tones are attempted throughout.
There are moments of reasonably catchy material throughout the album and at times I feel as though with some honest effort, Theatre of Tragedy could pull off this style change with conviction and skill. In fact, one of the best songs is the bonus track "The New Man". That track has some energy and vocals that seem interested in the performance. But cornball songs like "Radio" and "Musique" are just belly laughs at best. Musique comes off as a record that is puzzled by the band trying to create it.
Review by John Chedsey
Review date: 12/2000