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Tristania - Widow's Weeds

Tristania -  CD Review
Widow's Weeds
CD Info
Napalm Records
11 Tracks in this version
English lyrics

I’d like to say that Tristania have done a lot for Gothic Metal, but that just feels wrong. Tristania haven’t done a lot for Gothic Metal, all they’ve done is create a sound that’s been mimicked one way or another ever since, but never bettered. So, taking into consideration all the inferior, dime-a-dozen BnB bands that have cropped up purely as a result of Tristania, they’ve probably done more harm than good. The problem is, if something’s good and it sells, then other people will get inspired and want to jump on the bandwagon. However, what they don’t realise – and you’d think they would because it’s so damn obvious – is that they’re not the same band. They think they want to write similar songs and sing similarly, but what they actually want is to have written the same songs and be the same band. Well, hard luck. About once a year, a really quality BnB band will come along like After Forever or Draconian [I’m not counting Sirenia], that restores my hope in BnB, but no-one really measures up to Tristania’s standards. So, they haven’t done a lot for Gothic Metal, but they have done a lot for almost getting the genre to implode as a result of the ridicule it suffers [or deserves to] because of all these other silly BnB bands who think they’re a) talented and b) tough. Shame.

This does not detract in any way from the fact that Tristania have made some very impressive albums themselves. Well, two. Some people think that World Of Glass is the best thing since sliced bread. Well, it is, just very bad bread. Widow’s Weeds, on the other hand, is one of the best BnB albums you can get your hands on. It ranks along there with the best of After Forever and Theatre Of Tragedy. There seems to be a split in opinion over which of Tristania’s most recognised albums is the superior. Most people prefer Beyond The Veil due to the complexity of the sounds, the aggressiveness, the different layers, and the brilliance of the song writing. However, because of this, Widow’s Weeds seems to have got pushed to the back a little and has become Beyond The Veil’s little brother, an inferior Gothicling discarded by its stronger sibling.

Whereas Beyond The Veil is a fast-paced, galloping steed of a BnB album, Widow’s Weeds is not so intense, but this is its strength. All the songs here are first-class, but if you’ve heard Beyond The Veil before this, you might find it a little bit of a surprise that they’re not so extreme. This is Morten Veland almost in chilled-out mode, but the guitars are still as heavy as ever, we have the beautiful voice of Vibeke, and the lush choirs. It seems as if Veland really has done the best that is possible with everything he has at his mastery. From the opening hit of Evenfall, the beautiful piano and violin in Pale Enchantress, the strains of Vibeke’s stunning voice in December Elegy, the wonderful thrashing pace of Angellore, to the closing strains of Postludium, this is really what the BnB genre should be about. Unsurprising too, because Tristania were responsible for redefining it.

It is very difficult to find fault with Widow’s Weeds. There are some bits of it that you could describe as a little hackneyed and naff, like the jamming in of the odd choir chord after a chunk of guitar distortion, which is almost funny at times, and the fact that most of the songs sound a little too similar, but they’re all so good that this is almost a compliment. However, I’m really splitting hairs here. Widow’s Weeds is a quality piece of work. The production is top notch, the violins and clean vocals are beautiful, and the contrast with the death vocals is always perfectly placed. Morten Veland seems to leave a trail of great work wherever he goes, and unlike Mark Jansen, doesn’t seem to be in danger of disappearing up his own arse. Which could only be good news for the rest of us.