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Theatre Of Tragedy - "Forever Is The World" (CD)

Theatre Of Tragedy - "Forever Is The World" CD cover image

"Forever Is The World" track listing:

1. Hide And Seek
2. A Nine Days Wonder
3. Revolution
4. Transition
5. Hollow
6. Astray
7. Frozen
8. Illusions
9. Deadland
10. Forever Is The World

Reviewed by on November 14, 2009

"They didn’t make bad music on 'Forever is the World,' just boring music."

Theatre of Tragedy is a band that has been toiling away for a while. Gothic metal in spirit, the band has teetered between metal, electronic, and techno for the last few years. Originally forged in Norway’s black metal scene, Theatre of Tragedy made three critically acclaimed records in the mid to late 1990s, cementing themselves as pioneers of female-fronted gothic metal. As the new century came about the band began to experiment, earning derision from fans and pundits alike. They are back with “Forever is the World,” and despite attempting to get closer to the dramatic metal sound that originally propelled them to popularity, they just don’t make it.

The album starts out in a very promising fashion – opener “Hide and Seek” is simply stellar. A grinding, crunchy riff drones on underneath the fascinating vocals of Raymond Istvàn Rohonyi. Nell Sigland chimes in with her almost-falsetto here and there, but Rohonyi’s off-kilter guttural growl gives the song legs, and wings. This is a promising start, but unfortunately that hope is unfounded.

The next appearance from Rohonyi is not until the fifth song, and even then it is just a brief lyric. Sigland is capable, but a bit flat, and the chord progressions from the guitars underneath don’t give the band’s music much else to work with. After a couple songs the formula is quite clear; a down tuned guitar chord progression runs underneath Sigland’s lilting vocals, and the songs slowly build until the dramatic ending. Keyboards and strings enhance the experience.

The problem is that there is nothing in the music that is particularly exciting or gripping. The songs play in a very predictable fashion, and then they end. Just like that. The production also makes the band sound distant. “Revolution” is a dramatic metal ballad that doesn’t end soon enough, “Transition” is a soft, boring song, and “Astray” is just that, with the faux-techno lyrics and almost sampled guitars. It isn’t until the second half of “Illusions” that the band kicks it into gear again, and by then it is too late.

Theatre of Tragedy has the tools to make good music, as “Hide and Seek” clearly shows. Unfortunately they move away from that winner, choosing fallow drama and easy gothic clichés instead of sticking to writing compelling music. They didn’t make bad music on “Forever is the World,” just boring music.

Highs: “Hide and Seek” is what the band wants to be on every song.

Lows: The band falls into dramatic goth metal clichés all too often.

Bottom line: A glimmer of hope from Goth-metal vets, then disappointment.

Rated 2 out of 5 skulls
2 out of 5 skulls

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)