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Album Review

Long-running Norwegian goth metal band Tristania return with Illumination, an album that largely dispenses with the overtly metallic aspects of their earlier sound. In their place, Tristania have perhaps inadvertently created a single-handed revival of the late-'80s goth rock sound, much beloved by mascara-wearing, black-clad students of both sexes with late-night college radio shows. Songs like "Down" and "Sacrilege" are hugely reminiscent of the Sisters of Mercy at their most pop-oriented; indeed, the former of these songs could be a hit among the '80s revival crowd even today. With vocals split between Vibeke Stene's angelic, Kate Bush-like trill and Østen Bergøy's low-end lounge lizard Dracula vibe (think of Bryan Ferry mutated with the Cult's Ian Astbury), this is the smoothest Tristania album yet, with the clichéd death grunt vocals of guitarists Anders Hilde and Svein Solvang held to the barest minimum and keyboardist Einar Moen taking a stronger instrumental role. Although Illumination is more likely to appeal to the darkwave and goth crowds than the standard metal fan, those audiences should find much to enjoy here.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Regarded as one of the world's premiere goth metal bands, Norway's Tristania have earned their reputation through risk-taking creativity, unquestionable talent, and perhaps more than anything else, an impressive consistency from release to release. First coming together in 1996, Tristania took the uncommon step of showcasing three separate vocalists of wildly divergent styles to represent their lyrics, these being operatic soprano Vibeke Stene, clean-singing counter-tenor Østen Bergøy, and harsh,...
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Illumination, Tristania
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