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Tristania - Widow's Weeds (10/10) - Norway - 1998

Genre: Gothic Metal
Label: Napalm Records
Playing time: 53:08
Band homepage: Tristania

Tracklist:

  1. Preludium
  2. Evenfall
  3. Pale Enchantress
  4. December Elegy
  5. Midwintertears
  6. Angellore
  7. My Lost Lenore
  8. Wasteland’s Caress
  9. Postludium
Tristania - Widow's Weeds
Back in 1998 when this album came out, probably no-one had ever heard of TRISTANIA. They’d previously released the obscure selftitled “Tristania EP”, which was really a reworking of the even obscurer “Tristania” demo CD, before they hit the metal scene properly with their first full length “Widow’s Weeds”. Today, TRISTANIA is one of the biggest Gothic Metal bands in the world, thanks to extensive touring, word of mouth and the critically acclaimed “Beyond the Veil” record.
 
Back in 1998, I was living under a rock. Well, as far as metal is concerned I was. It wasn’t until the year 2000 I really got into metal, and guess what: “Widow’s Weeds” was my very first metal record!
I hated it first. There were no clear verse/chorus structures, the tempo changes left me disoriented, and the growling was way too extreme for me. You see I bought this record just because it was “Gothic”. At the time I was an alienated MARILYN MANSON teen if I needn’t explain more. I browsing the internet for something obscure, when a friend of my brother suggested TRISTANIA. I listened to some samples, thought it was the heaviest thing I’d ever heard and bought “Widow’s Weeds” the next day in the local metal store. The rest is history…
Or it isn’t, in any way I doubt you really care about it. Let’s get on with this record shall we? :)
 
”Widow’s Weeds” is classic Gothic. From “Preludium” to “Postludium”, this record is drenched in 19th century romance, Edgar Allen Poe and dark writing. This is Gothic of the old style with a touch of Doom and medieval theatre. TRISTANIA is offering the whole lot on this album, ranging from choirs, organs and strings to acoustic playing on “December Elegy”,…
 
As a band, TRISTANIA is an impressive ensemble. Morten Veland is the perfect frontman. He wrote most of the album, provides tasteful lyrics and delivers the growls. On the other end of the spectrum we have Vibeke Stene for opera style singing. Einar Moen on keys gives a class performance (“Preludium”, “Evenfall”, “My Lost Lenore”) and the rest of the band are rock solid in place, with Kenneth Olssen on drums, Anders Hidle on guitar and Rune Osterhus on bass. Honourable mention to Østen Bergoy and Pete Johanssen for clean male singing and violin respectively.
 
There is hardly a weak track in sight here. I’d try and pick out one but I can’t. Perhaps the only low point is “Angellore” because of the slight style difference, but it’s a good song nonetheless. If you really must have some guidance: “December Elegy” and “Midwintertears” are probably the best I can recommend you. You see “Widow’s Weeds” owes much of its grace to the excellent flow of the tracks. The arrangements extend beyond just the songs. Recommending “December Elegy” outside the context of this album seems almost impossible to me.
 
“Widow’s Weeds” is a 10/10 album, no doubt about it. However, those of you who expect a progressive metal masterpiece in here will be disappointed. This is a different 10/10 than I would hand out to OPETH’s “Still Life” for example. Let’s say “Widow’s Weeds” knows no equal in the realm of Gothic Metal. I’ve had this record for 3 years now, and it keeps getting better every time I play it. Now that’s what a classic is all about ;) (Online March 23, 2004)
 
Guest Reviewer Ben Meuleman



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