"Ashes" (SPV / Steamhammer; 2004)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter


I have always enjoyed looking forward to Tristania's releases. I even enjoyed their previous release, "World Of Glass," despite many reviewers who felt the album was rushed in the aftermath of Morten Veland's departure. However, Tristania took nearly four full years (side projects and sidetracks included) to consider the final output that is "Ashes" and the results are good very good, in fact.

With "Ashes," Tristania sounds like a band that is forging a new path without forsaking its past. The arrangements seem to be carefully thought out without being forced. The album starts off in howling fashion with the blackened growl of "Libre" before settling into the Gothic metal glory that the band has long been known for. Tristania bridge a broad swath of material over the next six tracks that highlight the band's mastery of dynamics and outpouring of emotion. The middle track, "Cure" is particularly impressive as it lets soprano vocalist Vibeke Stene really show what she is capable of.

"Ashes" may seem short at 43 minutes over seven tracks, but it is the band's focus on quality and making a deep impression that stands out. I'll take that over longer albums any day. It goes without saying that the three vocal attack still stands out as one of the band's enduring strengths and hallmarks. The only thing more impressive than Tristania's consistency from release to release is the sheer depth of their artistry. "Ashes" is a wonderful addition to their growing legacy.

Tristania: Vibeke Stene on vocals, Kjetil Ingebrethsen on vocals, Osten Bergoy on vocals, Anders Hoyvik Hidle on guitar, Rune Osterhus on bass, Einar Moen on synth and programming, and Kenneth Olsson on drums.

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"World Of Glass" (Napalm Records America; 2001)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter


Hot on the heels of 1999's "Beyond The Veil," Tristania unleash another deafening slab of Goth metal. With "World Of Glass" Tristania still slam eardrums with a very dynamic gothic metal style. In a scene that is getting all the more crowded by the minute (it seems like that anyway), Tristania play with confidence and flair. 

Vibeke's vocals are a bit more prominent on "World Of Glass" compared to "Beyond The Veil." "The Modern End" sounds like it could have been right at home on The Gathering's "if_then_else" because it has a haunting vocal melody on top of a subdued musical foundation that carries rather than buries. Many of the other songs carry on in the vein of Therion with an attitude problem.

Vibeke's prominence does not mean that the extreme male vocals have been abandoned, however. The extreme vocals, while fewer in appearances, seem a bit more focused and raging. The choir vocals are also pumped up in the mix adding more weight to the toned down vocals. Melancholy and rage make unlikely partners, but Tristania weave the two into a strand that is stronger than the parts.

"World Of Glass" is not too different from their previous release "Beyond The Veil" so if you didn't like the last one you probably won't care too much for the new one. However, if you even had the slightest inclination to enjoy "Beyond The Veil" you'll find a lot to like in "World Of Glass."

"World Of Glass" was produced by Terje Refsnes.

Tristania: Vibeke Stene on vocals, Einar Moen on synth and programming, Anders H. Hilde on guitar, Kenneth Olsson on drums, and Rune Osterhus on bass. Tristania are joined by Osten Bergoy and Jan Kenneth Barkved on clean male vocals, Ronny Thorsen on extreme vocals, and Pete Johansson on violins.

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"Beyond the Veil" (Napalm Records; 1999)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter


Norwegian symphonic metal masters Tristania have collected a fair amount of praise for their efforts so far and "Beyond The Veil" doesn't disappoint. Tristania continue to stretch the symphonic sound as far as it can go by expanding the elements of black metal intensity, gothic atmospheres, power metal zest, and choir vocals to the maximum possible.

It's obvious a lot of influences went into "Beyond The Veil," but the strength of the songs and the balance of the instrumentation is what keeps this CD in my player. Although the songs are long, Tristania have that rare ability to make even long songs seem short by the sheer musical skill they bring to the forefront with their ideas and deft arrangements. There's nary a dull moment with all of the musical ideas being thrown into the cauldron of Tristania's bleak view of the world. The title track and "x" are obvious highlights, but the CD is very solid from beginning to end. The band has surveyed desperate landscapes and the light of hope within a weary world-view.

The raspy vocals occasionally remind me why I don't like Cradle Of Filth, but that's really just a minor drawback for this reviewer. The lyrics give the impression that they're steep in reality, yet it's obvious that fantasy elements are a strong part of the tales that Tristania's tells.

All in all, "Beyond The Veil" is one of 2000's better efforts. Fans of Therion, Moonspell, and The Sins Of Thy Beloved will enjoy Tristania's "Beyond The Veil."

"Beyond The Veil" was produced by Tristania and T. Refsnes. The production is phenomenal! The crystal clear mix and superb sound of the CD go a long way to adding to the pleasure of listening to this huge CD.

Tristania: Vibeke Stene on vocals; Morten Veland on vocals and guitars; Einar Moen on synths and programming; Kenneth Olson on drums; Anders H. Hidle on guitar; and Rune Osterhus on bass. Additional contributions provided by Pete Johansen on violins, Osten Bergoy on clean vocals, and Jan Kenneth Barkved on clean vocals.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2005 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 28 Aug 2022 14:16:30 -0400.