TRISTANIA have been at it for twelve years now, and it´s been three years since “Illumination” was released. They have a new female vocalist in the shape of Mariangela Demurtas from Sardinia. They have also switched male vocalists to Kjetil Nordhus (TRAIL OF TEARS, GREEN CARNATION). Former vocalist Östein Bergöy is one of the guests, as is Pete Johansen on violin. Valdemar Sorychta has been a part of the production, as always, while the main responsibility has been with guitarist/vocalist Anders Höyvik Hidle and bassist/vocalist Ole Vistnes. It will be as gothic as ever, but what else?
Mariangela has a sweet voice right from the outset in “Year of the Rat”. Einar Moen knows where to lay out a synthesizer pattern and I hear nothing of traditional Goth – but is still tangible. I must say I take to “Protection” as a cozy track, when the growl starts. That leaves out the bonus points. The pace quickens in “Patriot Games”, and after three songs I feel they have reached maximum variation of the genre. “Exil” develops into a stable song with really great vocal parts from both Mariangela and Kjetil. All in all the band is skilled at matching and mixing their lead vocalists of both sexes. When the vocals sound strained, as in “Vulture”, the outcome is only highly average. A lack of pace is not suited either; I try to forget about the slow “Amnesia”. TRISTANIA are often over-Gothic, a development of their own. When all ends meet they make grand music like “Patriot Games”, but it is quite lonely at the top. Sometimes they end up as in album closer catastrophe “Illumination” – more than I can stand to hear. If they sort out their direction I´m more than convinced they have the potential.
Year of the Rat