Triosphere – The Heart of the Matter (AFM Records)Thursday, 23rd October 2014
We’ve been getting our fair share of female fronted metal acts making waves in a variety of sub-genres – be it melodic death metal in Arch Enemy, the ever popular symphonic metal (take your pick, Nightwish, Within Temptation, etc.) or even in the power/progressive realm, as in this Norwegian quartet Triosphere. Active for a decade now, they’ve been releasing new records on a four year clip since 2006, as The Heart of the Matter enters the crucial third studio album microscope for their career, often the one that sets the stage for becoming a major player in your chosen craft or leaves you in the dust.
The guitar play and rhythm section possess this active, aggressive bite in terms of the chord and tempo choices – you can sense a team effort that exemplifies the title of the album in stellar arrangements and performances throughout. One exposure to the steady, Kamelot-esque double bass number “The Sentinel” featuring ripping neo-classical leads out of Marius Silver Bergesen or the reflective, progressive and playful follow up “Breathless” proves Triosphere has upped their melodies, harmonies, transitions, and interplay tenfold from their previous albums. Occasional bursts of modern, staccato attack often give way to tight dual harmonies and captivating vocal melodies – as bassist Ida Haukland ascends and descends the natural note scale without strain, a smoother Doro Pesch or Leather Leone meets other contemporaries in her home country such as Michael Eriksen (Circus Maximus) or Nils K. Rue (Pagan’s Mind).
A lot of Scandinavian progressive/power metal bands have taken the tools that began with 1990’s era Dream Theater and extended them into new horizons and frontiers, and I believe Triosphere is another that meet that criteria, as a lot of these songs possess finesse, sharp/tight picking, and bullet point choruses which can be larger than life. Highlights include the semi-dramatic/theatrical overtures for “The Heart’s Dominion”, the majestic “Relentless” that has lots of Riot meets Evergrey textures to the guitar presentation and haunting phrasings and the sparse, non-metal ballad “Virgin Ground”.
The abstract, interpretative cover also gives insight that Triosphere will never be content to put out the same release twice. The Heart of the Matter contains 12 songs that place the band in the upper tier of power/progressive metal today, and gives premiere artists like Kamelot and Pagan’s Mind a chance to push their creativity to bigger heights.