Tristania - 'Darkest White' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     November 02, 2013    
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A potentially great album for the right listeners.

Despite spending most of my time listening to and reviewing female fronted bands, there are still a handful that I have yet to become acquainted with. It's not that I think little of them or they are not worthy, it's just time and circumstances haven't afforded me the right opportunity. Probably the biggest name of these is Tristania who have released six albums since 1995, and now return with 'Darkest White'.

If, like me, you expected Tristania to be a heavily orchestrated Symphonic group then think again. Their current style is far more modern with heavy gothic influences that avoid relying heavily on arrangements. This is more comparable to a cross between Lacuna Coil and The Mission/Sisters Of Mercy. It opens in hostile fashion with 'Number'; the verses are full of death grunting and it scowls along to a really infectious chorus. Sadly for those who hate the grunts they also feature in four other songs, including 'Night On Earth' and 'Arteries'. There are even two songs which feature only clean-ish male vocals which are 'Darkest White' and 'Cypher'. There is one moment of calmness in 'Lavender' with its psychedelic opening and a clean male chorus. Of the ten tracks there are two that have become my favourites. The first is the beautiful 'Requiem' which has an uplifting revolving riff and a massive chorus, although unfortunately it's the fourth song to feature grunts. This is followed by 'Diagnosis' with its churning verse riff before a really positive, sunny chorus arrives, featuring a super choral line.

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When I first listened to this I was at the day job, and despite several plays I just couldn't get on with it, and almost wrote as such; a good album usually stands out irrespective and this didn't. But they must have been bad days because I came back to it with no preconceptions, and upon reflection I have to say it's actually a fine album. For me personally, it still doesn't rank as sensational as some of the stunning releases this year. It's a touch too modern, plus the limited use of orchestration doesn't go in its favour. But the clincher was that the death growling didn't work for me this time and I know that sounds strange given some of my previous reviews. In some circumstances I've come to enjoy/overlook the grunts, but in others it really bothers me and this is one of those times. But that is all purely personal and subjective. I can just as easily see how for some of our readers this could be a potential album of the year as there's nothing generally for which to mark it down.

A potentially great album for the right listeners; 'Darkest' didn't shine quite as bright for me as I had hoped but that's not to say it won't be a leading light for others.

Dave Scott

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