“Illumination” by Tristania

Artist: Tristania
Title: “Illumination”
Label: SPV Records
Release Date: 1/25/2007
Genre: Gothic Metal
Rating: 4/5

With “Illumination” it seems that Norway’s Tristania has decided to move deeper into the Gothic side than ever imagined as this release serves fans a quasi-Evanescence feel – but with a lot more depth and dramatics than that outfit seems to provide. There aren’t much of the Dark Growling vocals that were once delivered by Kjetil Ingebrethsen; as the singer left the band in mid 2006 to pursue other interests. Instead, that style is provided by guest vocalist Vorph (from Samael) and used sparingly this time around. For “Illumination”, the band shifted gears a little and as result the whole release is now a brooding and dark piece of music with textures that both chill and warm the blood at the same time. Singer Vibeke Stene provides siren like melody and operatic styles to the sullen and deep words of her male counterpart Osten Bergoy and this pairing seems to work even better than it did before. The opening track of “Destination Departure” just grabs you with the overall groove it has to it while “Mercyside” is perhaps the albums most captivating sing based on the big operatic choir it uses as a chorus. Surely both of these will be among many of the fans favorite tracks.

Their US debut was “Ashes” (also on SPV Records) but it was an album that was slightly different for that that release focused a lot more on Kjetil instead of Vibeke. On “Illumination”, she is really showing to be the focal point of the group instead of just being their female bonus member or ornamentation. Vibeke is also a stunning beauty and together with her incredible voice she is bound to become a star that will be worth watching. The lineup of Tristania is quite large with a full seven members in its roster making this music come to life. Joining Vibeke and Osten are Anders Hoyvik Hidle (guitars), Rune Osterhus (bass), Einar Moen (keyboards), Kenneth Olsson (drums) and Svein Terje Solvang (guitars); perhaps the large membership roster is what makes this band come off as a little fuller than others who choose this genre.

The Gothic Metal style seems to be growing in popularity and thanks to efforts from bands like Moonspell, Type-O-Negative, and Draconian there is just so many good ones that it can be taken seriously and take sufficient growth steps. The bands decision to blend additional elements of Doom (the very Black Sabbath inspired style) to their brand of Gothic makes this a recording that stands out a lot more than others of its type. Having compared this to other Tristania releases I think this is the release that will break new ground for the group and offer them a promising future. Truly the dark never looked as bright before now.

Track Listing:
1. Mercyside
2. Sanguine Sky
3. Open Ground
4. The Ravens
5. Destination Departure
6. Down
7. Fate
8. Lotus
9. Sacrilege
10. Deadlands

Official Website: http://www.tristania.com

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