The cool thing about Tristania
's 2007 LP "Illumination" is as heavy as it is on the gothic side of the moon, the metal side is ever present and prominent.
"Mercyside", the opening track on the album, is a fast, aggressive, pulse-raising example of great metallic rhythm. With the exception of all songs balladesque, the guitars are always in the foreground regardless of pace and that's a good thing, for the primary characteristic of all things metal should be as such. Of course, there are plenty of gothic musings which is Tristania
" showcases female lead singer Vibeke Stene in her best Ariatic form, "Ab Initio" (a possible cover ?) is the dark prom night ballad of the album, and "Deadlands" is perhaps the best example of Stene's power and control over her vocal pitch (especially when she unleAshes her operatic style).
The male vocals, by Osten Bergoy ; however, is the stamp of gothic approval. His vocal parts compliment Stene with a very moody, stabbing-in-the-heart, groan throughout and is quite a pleasing alternative to the death metal (or extreme) grunts peppered on the few tracks that it appears.
The percussion occasionally sounds off a great cadence.
" provides a great feel in this regard, as does the next track, "Lotus". This song, though, reveals the one ugly truth of Tristania
songwriting skills - they're good when they're fast and when they're good when they're slow, but when they come at you in midtempo, the result is unimpressive to say the least. They're too good to accuse them of tanking a movement, so it's just better to say that when they go the speed limit they are at their most tame and lame.
being said, the grand slam of the album is "Sacrilege".
The five note repetitivie vocal line by Stene is not only the highlight of "Illumination" but skyrockets "Sacrilege" into level of one of the best metal songs of '07. It's a truly awesome cut - from the choir-like opening on, the chorus explodes like a Roman candle and all parts are perfectly harmonized, from both vocalists and their respective parts to the most aggressive guitar riff on the album. "Illumination" benefits on the whole from "Sacrilege" but even better, "Illumination" is a diverse, effective, and mood-swinging record that should retain its power over time as a very good artistic effort by Tristania