After their self-titled debut-EP I was eager to hear the first full album and "Widow's Weeds" already shows the potential of this Norwegian sextet. Back then many had called them THEATRE OF TRAGEDY-copycats, but the band from Tau impressively showed that they were so much more than a mere copy.
Sure, the basic ingredients are more or less the same: Mostly slow-paced rhythms, melancholic riffs, atmospherically well-placed keyboards and pianos, the angelic voice of Vibeke Stene and as crass opposite the deep growls of Morten Veland. But the class with which they assembled their songs is what made TRISTANIA form a beacon of excellence in the ever-growing tide of similar sounding bands.
The songs all are arranged very densely any variable, with a quite remarkable heaviness to them, nicely contrasting the atmosphere. That Vibeke and Morten sometimes use their voice in the "heaven/hell"-manner is just natural, but again, it's the class that makes the difference.
Songs like "December Elegy", "My Lost Lenore" or the brilliant "Wasteland's Caress" even back then had been among the crème de la crème of Gothic Metal and should not be missing in any collection.
And what nobody could know back then, it had been only the beginning of an evolution that found its so-far peak in the awesome "Beyond The Veil"...