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Requiem

Theatre of Tragedy

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Theatre of Tragedy had a huge impact on me in my late teens and is probably the archetypal band that sums up gothic metal for me. Their use of beauty and the beast vocals just blew me away back in the 1990s, and to this day their first three albums are some of my favourites of all time. It hasn't all been roses and Shakespeare, though. Let's take a look at their output: 

Requiem's Ranking of Theatre of Tragedy Albums from Poor to Great

7. Assembly (2002)

This band, in my opinion, has more mediocre and poor albums than they do good, and here's as good a place to start as any. Their second album in the 'modern' style, with more beeps and squeaks than R2D2, songs about boardrooms and cities (probably), lyrics about god know's what but they certainly aren't poetic. Opening track 'Automatic Lover' will put you off any further exploration of the 'songs' here. The final album with Liv Kristine, and it's a credit to her that she held on long enough to record this tripe. Terrible post-modern future world cover 'art'. 

6. Forever is the World (2009)

Liv's replacement Nell Sigland is a good singer, but she just doesn't have the same vibe. Strange production on this, the band's final album. The songs are not terrible, and it has some elegance buried amongst the plastic mastering, but it's not particularly exciting and hard to listen to for any great length of time. Bland. Pretty cool and elegant album cover. 

5. Storm (2006)

The first song - the title track - is a great rock anthem, and is the only thing that really puts this album over 'Forever is the World'. Nell's first album. Bloody Raymond's vocals still come through this electronic vocaliser thing. What the hell was he thinking with it? Anyway, the song is great, the album is bland. Let's leave it at that. Nice faux leather album cover. 

4. Musique (2000)

I could write a whole thesis on the negative impact this album had on my friends and I when it was released, as a heap of gothic and doom bands went electronic, but I'll spare you. Once I got over the shock, the electronic ultra-modern songs are actually quite enjoyable, particularly the fantastic pop anthem 'Image' and the ode to train passengers everywhere in 'Commute'. Liv is great. Raymond sounds like a robot. Modern style album cover is ok and I don't hate it. But damn, this album ruined my life when it first came out. 

3. Theatre of Tragedy (1995)

The debut is a milestone in true Norwegian gothic metal. Genre jokes aside, this really set the template in many ways, with its renaissance feel, piano, beauty and the beast vocals and early modern English lyrics. Songs like 'A Hamlet for a Slothful Vassal' are archetypal. 'Sweet Art Though' is so damn amazing - listen to it and you feel like you're at a castle woeing a sexy damsel. Great album cover depicting two roses. 

2. Velvet Darkness They Fear (1997)

An all time classic, this is really the pinnacle of gothic metal in many ways. Stunning medieval/renaissance atmospheres, beautiful lyrics that are sometimes in the form of plays, other times poems, weaving an interplay between male and female protagonists like the bard himself. The music is melodic, organic and has some spine-tingling moments, like the harpsichord part in the middle of 'Fair and Guiling Copesmate Death'. For many, their last great album. Saucy semi-naked woman draped across purple silk makes for a fitting album cover.  

1. Aegis (1998)

Number 1. This is one of my all time favourite albums, and for many years I was going around telling people it was my second favourite from any genre. To this day it's mesmerising. The metal has been stripped back and Raymond speaks rather than growls, but the early modern lyrics remain, as do Liv Kristine's beautiful, lilting, Ophelia-like voice. The songs are repetitive, soft and often based around a verse/chorus structure, and just nails musical perfection for my personal taste, like in 'Cassandra' and 'Lorelei'. Great rose/fire album cover. 

I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on this pretty divisive band. Any opinions?

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I've never listened to Aegis, but the other albums I've heard from after it had nothing to offer me. Your comment about them having more bad albums than good seems accurate, but I do still hold them in high esteem for their first two. It's weird to think that's where Hein Frode Hansen would end up after parting ways with the Enslaved boys, but it works.

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Among the Stavangan Gothic Metal bands, I like Theatre of Tragedy, Tristania, and The Sins of Thy Beloved. Theatre of Tragedy is still my favorite. Velvet Darkness They Fear is my favorite album by them along with Aegis. My ranking would be

 

7. Assembly

6. Musique

5. Storm

4. Forever is the World

3. Theatre of Tragedy

1. Velvet Darkness They Fear and Aegis

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20 hours ago, EmeraldDark said:

Among the Stavangan Gothic Metal bands, I like Theatre of Tragedy, Tristania, and The Sins of Thy Beloved. Theatre of Tragedy is still my favorite. Velvet Darkness They Fear is my favorite album by them along with Aegis. My ranking would be

 

7. Assembly

6. Musique

5. Storm

4. Forever is the World

3. Theatre of Tragedy

1. Velvet Darkness They Fear and Aegis

Nice list. It’s hard to go past those top three albums of theirs. Glad you love ‘Aegis’ as much as I do. 

While I shall forever love ToT and Tristania, I never thought that Sins of thy Beloved were in the same league. They had all the same ingredients but seemed to me to lack the songwriting hooks.

I remember giving them a good go, but maybe I need to listen to them again?

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Aegis was the first album I bought from Theatre of Tragedy. I also like to listen to the demo. I like the live performance of The Sins of Thy Beloved. Especially, I like Nebula Queen. They had a violinist on stage. I have not listened to any studio versions yet except for Until the Dark.

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