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Triosphere - "The Road Less Travelled" (CD)

Triosphere - "The Road Less Travelled" CD cover image

"The Road Less Travelled" track listing:

1. Ignition (Intro) (1:58)
2. Driven (4:36)
3. Human Condition (4:33)
4. Death Of Jane Doe (4:43)
5. Marionette (5:30)
6. The Road Less Travelled (5:24)
7. The Anger And The Silent Remorse (6:23)
8. Watcher (4:46)
9. 21 (4:47)
10. Worlds Apart (6:23)
11. The Last Haven (Outro) (2:16)

Reviewed by on November 8, 2010

"But what if I told you there was a female vocalist in heavy metal today that defied all those easy classifications and created one of her own? Would you believe me? Well, put on 'The Road Less Travelled' and believe it."

Female vocalists occupy a special, if clichéd, place in heavy metal. To wit: operatic beauty of Tarja Turunen, the modern bark of Morgan Lander, the classic croon of Doro, the gothic murmers of Cristina Scabbia, and even the demonspawn howl of Angela Gossow all fit in a defined place within the genre-needy metalverse. But what if I told you there was a female vocalist in heavy metal today that defied all those easy classifications and created one of her own? Would you believe me? Well, put on “The Road Less Travelled” and believe it.

To start, the first few minutes of “The Road Less Travelled” are an emotional roller coaster. A self-identified intro, the opening track teases us with some ephemeral guitar layers, slow and anthemic, power melodies and even some almost-blast-beats. Power metal with blast beats? Let’s see what happens! But then the track abruptly ends, more traditional power metal soundtrack kicks in, and we are disappointed by the thought of eleven songs of the same power metal we’ve been hearing for years. But finally vocalist (and bassist) Ida Haukland starts in, and her voice is a George Foreman roundhouse of power – raw, deep-lunged rock n’ roll power.

To put it succinctly, Haukland delivers the goods. Just take a gander at “Human Condition” or the title track. A cool bass line and accompanying guitars ride easily under her melodic bark during the verses, the bridges shift into a guitar and vocal syncopation, and the chorus has soaring vocal melodies. Haukland is featured throughout “The Road Less Travelled” and succeeds in spades by combining all the qualities of the aforementioned female vocalists into one package. The cherry on top is her power as she just doesn’t move from style to style, but bathes them all in raw force; Haukland’s vocal chords could probably bench press 500 kilos and her lungs are more leathery than cowhide.

But a good vocalist cannot make a good band alone, and this is where Triosphere moves past many of its peers. Instead of making generic metal music so the outstanding vocalist isn’t singing acapella (like, say, Magica, or even Doro’s more recent work), the rest of Triosphere is here to play and play hard. Guitarists Marius Silver Bergesen and T. O. Byberg trade off riffs and leads in some places and complement each other in other places, all while building more than just chord progression power sequences. Drummer Orjan Jorgensen must have played in a death metal band before Triosphere, as he is sniper-precise and keeps the other three honest. Hard rock, thrash, NWOBHM, 1980s-style guitar wankery, and even some blues make it into the proggy arrangements and music breaks, and it turns out the first intro track was a portent, not a tease.

Ultimately not satisfied to be a “look, we have a female vocalist! Aren’t we cool!” band, Triosphere needs the sum of its parts. With a mediocre vocalist, the music would be lots of half-filled ideas looking for a master, and without the band’s eagerness to go beyond standard metal tropes Haukland would be a bulldozer with no gas. But together Triosphere has created something that is powerful, eclectic, and repeatedly enjoyable.

Highs: The title track is a fantastic metal piece and vocal showcase for Ida Haukland.

Lows: The slow burn of “The Anger And The Silent Remorse” never quite ignites into the ballad it wants to be.

Bottom line: Eclectic prog/power metal and a phenomenal vocal performance combine on a terrific album.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)