Sometimes having a review sit forgotten for a while has its advantages as far as being able to include different information than if it would have been written right around release time. THEATRE OF TRAGEDY’s “Forever Is The World” is one of these cases, where I had been sure that I had the review done, until I found out that the promo was still patiently sitting there, waiting its turn. Imagine trying to do that to a MANOWAR album, it would let you know with a load roar that it’s still sitting there, THEATRE OF TRAGEDY, though, is more of a quiet kind...
Anyways, the different information is that the band has just called it quits after 17 years together (including some line-up changes, of course) and their seventh studio album has turned out to be a fairly quiet affair as well. The first two albums, self titled and “Velvet Darkness They Fear”, where among the catalysts for the emergence of Gothic Metal with dual vocals, growls and soprano, and unfortunately after that and the calmer “Aégis” the Norwegians dropped off my charts by going highly electronic for two albums before “Storm”, at the same time the first album with Nell Sigland on the mic, brought back the “Aégis” feeling a bit.
After hearing opener “Hide And Seek” on the band’s Myspace, my interest was really piqued, since it had an interesting atmosphere with some growls returning to the fold, a brooding verse and catchy chorus, where Nell joins in, still nothing to call Gothic Metal, but a very good Gothic Rock song and the growls definitely help. And I wish that Raymond had stuck to the growls, because his spoken word still is not a shining star (see “Astray”), while with Nell’s voice they seem to have tried not to layer them, which gives them a natural, but unfortunately also at times a little thin sound.
While some tracks get fairly soft and poppy (“Transition” is the biggest culprit there, immensely catchy, though), the band seems to have found a better way to get the atmosphere back into their songs, “Illusions” is an absolutely beautiful soft song that sets a great mood, while “Deadland” is probably my favourite with its great melodies and surprising drive, especially the wonderful chorus has a somewhat, hm, commanding presence.
Despite the album being fairly cohesive (despite a distinct lack of variety around the middle), the original two albums were never reached later on, so despite the band evolving throughout the years, their roots almost haunted them for the rest of their career. “Forever Is The World” actually was a good step back and with a little more heaviness could have been on a good way to recapture the spirit of the originals, but it seems that the band wanted to end it here.
A good to very good Gothic Rock album in the end.
(Online October 18, 2010)