Published on Thursday, 30 May 2013 22:28
Album title: Darkest White
Relase date: 31 May 2013
Label: Napalm Records
02. Darkest White
07. Night On Earth
Tristania was once one of the leading gothic metal bands, leaving a deep seal in the history of that very genre. Their unconventional, innovative albums and especially their trademark sound, which was a mixture of gothic and death-doom metal, spiced up with the very right amount of orchestrations and amazing vocals lines, is what made the band one of the most recognizable and honourable names. It may seem over the top, but what made their sound so unblemished is how they harmonized all these elements into a perfect mixture.
A series of line-up changes over the years occurred, that inevitably reflected in their sound. The “second era of Tristania” started with Ashes in 2005 and the new sound was a lot barer, stripped down to the very basics. The orchestrations were gone, so was the “beauty and the beast” vocals interacting in a story. The dramatic and romantic lyrics, which sounded so enchanting, written in old English, were gone. The fans of the band split up, some stayed devoted to their band, with the words every musician must evolve. The others just weren’t amused anymore with the drastic change of their sound. And so, Tristania went on with their new sound and Darkest White is the obvious progeny of 2010’s Rubicon, which was the album that yet again put the band on a new challenge, as their previous opera singer Vibeke Stene was replaced by a rock singer Mariangela Demurtas on female vocals.
Darkest White shows at the very beginning, with the opening track “Number”, that was time to get a bit bolder, more extreme and raw. What we witness is something a bit heavier than on previous three albums. A lot of emphasis is on growls. Guitars and drums sound a wee bit heavier. Mariangela’s vocals are clean and not layered. The acoustic guitars are gone, keyboards are minimized and there are only few interactions between all the three (female vocals, clean male vocals and growls) voices. Unfortunately, with all these changes, the album lacks atmosphere and harmony, which leads to the sound being inexpressive and easily forgettable. Darkest White is not extreme enough on one side, as it has no memorable guitar riffs, which would carry the song, no insane drumming that would carry the beat. On the other hand, the album is not atmospheric enough to mesmerize the listener with its story and concept, so it’s settled somewhere in the pure mediocrity.
But not to be the darkest, there is some part of the album that is “white”, and that part is hidden under the tracks “Lavender” and “Scarling”. These are the crown jewels of Darkest White, the songs that hold strong, memorable melodies, integrity and great gothic atmosphere. “Himmelfall” is another song standing out, delivering an epic touch.
Even when compared to the “second era of Tristania” albums, Darkest White is their least profound album. It doesn’t offer any truly exceptional, breathtaking songs and is easily forgettable. It seems as the band wanted a change in their sound and had an idea how to enrich it, but it just didn’t work out. It’s an album for the fans, but those looking for a good gothic metal album, should look elsewhere.
Review written by: Ines