My friend Ronny Thorsen is not lucky for sure. After the release of TRAIL OF TEARS’ last album “Existentia” basically his whole band quit on him, announcing that the band had split up, but now, two years later, he is back with “Bloodstained Endurance” and a completely new line-up (well, soprano Cathrine Paulsen already had been with him between 2000 and 2004), and I am very happy to announce that the turmoil has not affected the quality of the music in the least. Just like in the past, we are treated to a vibrant mix of Death, Gothic, Black and Symphonic Metal, which is epic, variable and has this widescreen feeling to it that is taking my heart by storm.
I usually try to find certain aspects to look out for in order to figure out, if you might like this, I can put it down into three words: “The Feverish Alliance”. An excellent set of dynamics with heaviness and symphony holding the balance, Ronny’s growls going hand in hand with Cathrine’s powerful voice (not the usual fragile soprano) and this superb chorus that will sweep you off your feet – this is a near perfect opener and TRAIL OF TEARS will not let up, showing that by amalgamating the best of different styles can still be catchy, dynamic and just plainly good without sounding like trying to openly appeal to too many potential fan bases, because if they did that, they would not combine fast and heavy, Black Metal influenced passages with powerful female vocals during the calmer parts (“Once Kissed By The Serpent (Twice Bitten By Truth)”) or add some violin to the symphonic fury of “Bloodstained Endurance”.
Generally one could say that TRAIL OF TEARS may very well be too heavy for the Gothic fans and offer too many melodies (and female vocals) for the fiends of the heavier side of the spectrum, but if it is delivered with such vigour and passion, it is hard, nay, almost impossible to elude the allure of the Norwegians’ music. I know that I started out by mentioning the first three songs in a row and I was almost tempted to continue in this vein, as each of the tracks contained here can stand its own, but I think that it becomes clear pretty quickly that “Bloodstained Endurance” is an extraordinary album that has the potential to wipe the floor with many of its contemporaries, from the widescreen arrangements of “Triumphant Gleam” over the aggressive variety of “Take Aim, Reclaim Prevail” (including a spine-chilling choir) to the excellent epic ballad of “Farewell To Sanity”, the Norwegians ride the whole gamut and to the best effect.
While I had thoroughly enjoyed “Existentia” back in 2007and the clear male vocals have disappeared again, I feel that “Bloodstained Endurance” is another step forward for the Norwegians and they deliver strong, very well executed compositions that have heartfelt conviction and power as well as variety that will appeal to a wide range of fans, it sure does to me, an excellent straddling of several genres with a strong production and depth, I’ve been a fan of TRAIL OF TEARS since their demo back in 1997 and this is their best effort to date!
(Online December 23, 2009)