Theatre of Tragedy is arguably the first and most important band that pioneered the beauty and beast type of bands, utilising brutal death growls and angelic female vocals. With albums like Theatre of Tragedy and Velvet Darkness They Fear, they set an example to a million bands who followed their footsteps, with only few of them trying to bring anything new to the table. Rather, they just expanded on Theatre of Tragedy's songwriting, adding in the occasional non-metal instruments. However, after Aegis, the band delved into a very industrial sound, dropping their characteristic sound and opting for electronic music with lots of dancey beats.
As the band lost touch with most of their older fanbase, they continued to experiment with industrial soundscapes, mostly evident on Musique. The following album, Assembly, marked their downfall and led to the departure of female vocalist Liv Kristine (now in Leaves' Eyes). Now, after so many years, Theatre of Tragedy returns with a new singer, a new album, and a new direction, according to second vocalist Raymond Rohonyi. Nell Sigland from The Crest is behind the mic now and she has a very soft, quite poppy voice that gives some of the songs a distinct 80's pop flavour. Almost all songs are centred around the piano and synth work of Lorentz Aspen; he plays both solo piano pieces and electronic synth textures. Although Storm is no where near as industrial-sounding as Musique and experimental as Assembly, it doesn't really stray too far away from these albums. I guess it would be logical to say this album is a mixture of their previous two; mixing atmospheric synth work with subtle guitar harmonies and static drumming. On the title track, Nell sounds passionate, and thanks to the clever mix of Greg Reely (Paradise Lost, Fear Factory) her doubled vocals are really amazing. It's like she harmonises with her identical twin before crunchy waves of guitars begin to soar above the delicate piano melody. "Silence" is relatively heavier, with great whispered vocals and accompaniment by Rohonyi. Unfortunately, how much his vocals add to the overall success of the album is highly questionable. I still find his singing (and spoken parts) rather dull and uninteresting. There are moments when the contrast between their voices works though, such as "Ashes and Dreams", a song that alternates between dark male vocals and fragile yet bright female harmonies. However, songs like "Fade", an entirely piano-driven ballad with only sprinkles of guitar riffs heard; or the rocking yet creepy "Begin & End" are a lot better, mostly because they're sung almost entirely by Nell. "Exile" and "Disintegration" return to Theatre of Tragedy's industrial, dance-style music, with lots of sampled beats and processed vocals. The album is wrapped by another midtempo track which is mostly sung by Nell, save for the middle part where Rohonyi narrates something in a nasal tone.
Some fans will still enjoy this disc, but I feel it's still inferior to their earlier work. Then again, I should know better as they'll never go back to playing that type of music again.
- Ashes and Dreams
- Begin & End