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Theatre of Tragedy: Assembly

A more startling metamorphosis could scarcely be anticipated -- not to mention welcomed with open arms -- than the makeover Theatre of Tragedy give themselves on this trippy new release. Why maintain the drudgery of goth metal as usual when so many artful and talented in the field, names like Tristania, the Gathering and Trail of Tears, cover this territory effectively; why shadow the world in painful pastiche of medieval/heraldic/courtly lyric styles when it's almost impossible to pull this off without sounding ludicrous? Why indeed, answer these Nordic artistes, giving us in place of lugubrious odes the poses, PVC, smeared trails of persona and fresh lipstick glamor of Eurodisco. Return with ToT in this thumping, bleeping, boinking, throbbing disc as they recreate the glory days of New Order, meshed with the industrial-metal swipe, porno 'tude and dance-ready grooves of Genitorturers, KMFDM and Nocturne; lyrics clean, smart and modern as they were formerly pretentious and silly, and thick freshets of power chords in place of meandering progressions. Liv Kristine Espenas has the trilling pipes of her goth metal cohorts with room to spare, and it's a pleasure to hear such a voice engaged in something unoperatic. A thrill, a triumph and a break from routine: Assembly made my day.

Added: September 4th 2009
Reviewer: Alex S. Johnson
Related Link: Nuclear Blast USA
Hits: 6170
Language: english

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Theatre of Tragedy: Assembly
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-09-04 01:24:24
My Score:

*****This is a review of the 2009 Remastered Edition of Assembly from Metal Mind Productions*****

The Norwegian band Theatre of Tragedy have been around for quite a few years and started life as a goth/doom metal band complete with growling vocals. That all changed with the release of Musique in the year 2000, combining goth rock with electronic beats. That leads us to Assembly which was originally released in 2002. My copy is the 2009 edition with three bonus tracks. For this album the band line-up includes Raymond I. Rohonyi (vocals), Liv Kristine Espenaes (vocals) who has since been replaced by Nell Sigland, Frank Claussen (guitars), Vegard K. Thorsen (guitars), Hein Frode Hansen (drums) and Lorentz Aspen (keyboards) This was definitely a surprise for me as I have not listened to music like this since my synth pop days in the early eighties. Layers of keyboards and electronics form the basis of this release and gives the music a heavy electronic vibe. Guitars are also used mostly in the form of heavier rhythms and riffs. I would call this synth-pop with a slight nod towards industrial. There are no traces of metal to be found so if you are familiar with the band's earlier catalogue this release may come as a shock to you.

The synth-pop of "Automatic Lover" starts the album and the electronic grooves continue through the rest of the album. The poppy "Universal Race" follows with the catchy vocals of Espenaes. The male and female vocals work well together especially in the melodic pop of "Starlit". Liv Kristine's angelic voice is in nice contrast to the spoken word vocals of Rohonyi. The keyboard driven "Motion" has a deep bass groove and the catchy synthesized female vocals work nicely. While I liked this release, it may wear a little thin with repeated listens as there is not a lot of complexity here, but it was a welcome respite from some of the more 'serious' music I listen to.

This release may not appeal to many Sea of Tranquility readers, however, if you are seeking music that is immediately accessible, and like eletro-pop with a nod towards the lighter side of industrial, you may want to check out Theatre of Tragedy and their foray into the world of European synth-pop.

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