Tristania – The Darkest White (Napalm Records)

Friday, 21st June 2013
Rating: 8/10

Hardly the cleavage-pushing, keyboard-loving, bravado-based band they were when Beyond the Veil was making waves at the dawn of the 00’s, Norway’s Tristania have successfully transitioned into a new phase of their career without taking a creative nosedive. In fact, the band is barely rooted in Goth metal at all – just poke around at the pacing on The Darkest White. It’s a veritable melting pot of Euro-stylized metal, driven by melody and a multi-faceted vocal approach that if they want to get fancy, is quite formidable.

The vocal tandem of Mariangela Demurtas and former Trail of Tears/Green Carnation throat Kjetil Nordus is where most of the action resides. The two don’t have a defined role in every song, ala bands that wait to drop in the syrupy female vocals for the chorus, or leave the growling solely to the verse. As evidenced by his work in the sorely-missed Green Carnation, Nordhus is capable of working around standard deep male vocal confines, as heard on “Himmelfall.” Demurtas gets the spotlight on “Requiem,” which ends up being a world-beater of a track with a cascading chorus and buzzing melodies. Again, is this the same band that trotted out songs such as “A Sequel of Decay” and “Angina?” Definitely not.

As The Darkest White advances, it becomes more apparent how willing Tristania has become to escape the confines of the previous recordings. It sounds like we’re beating a dead horse with these sentiments, but for a band that was once so synonymous with former singer Vibeke Stenne and its Goth metal sound, the way The Darkest White translates is a real eye-raiser…in totally a good way. A late-career statement from a band who many might have written off, The Darkest White is one of 2013’s real surprises.

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