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Trail of Tears: Existentia

You gotta love a band like Trail of Tears. This little band from Norway has been around the extreme metal scene for about a decade now, and has gone through many line-up and stylistic changes, but they never fail to deliver quality product. Their latest Existentia is a solid follow-up to their recent Free Fall Into Fear, that one being a healthy collection of death, black, progressive, and gothic metal styles that made for one exciting and varied listen. Here on Existentia, we once again see the addition of some female vocals, courtesy of Emmanuelle Zoldan, who adds a great element into the mix between the dueling clean & growled vocals from Ronny Thorse and Kjetil Nordhus (Green Carnation).

The music on this release is pretty damn heavy, yet also very symphonic and progressive, with crushing guitar riffs, orchestral keyboards, and bombastic rhythms flying about the mix, offering up a fantastic musical accompaniment to the layers of vocal styles that permeate each song. All of the above can be heard on the killer "Venom Inside My Head", a real brusing metal number with plenty of class and catchy hooks, with Thorsen's venemous growls playing pefectly off Nordhus' more melodic sensibilities. Ethereal keyboard provide the calming backdrop on the otherwise violent metal attack of "Decadence Becomes Me", and all three vocalists take center stage on the dramatic rocker "Deceptive Mirrors".

Raging organ and driving guitar riffs propel the headbanging "She Weaves Shadows", and "The Closing Walls" sounds almost like a cross between Mercenary and My Dying Bride with its catchy hooks, bubbling synths, heavy guitars, and mix of clean & growled vocals. Guitarist Runar Hansen throws in some tasty licks and brutal riffs on the symphonic "As It Penetrates", a tune also noteworthy for Kjetil's gorgeous clean vocals and Frank Roald Hagen's stunning synth and piano work.

News has it that Trail of Tears have recently lost all of their members save for Ronny Thorsen, who has proclaimed to keep the band going and find all new musicians. Time will tell if this will happen and what the results will be, but if this is the swan-song for Trail of Tears, Existentia certainly sends them off with a bang.

Track Listing
1. Deceptive Mirrors
2. My Comfort
3. Venom Inside My Veins
4. Decadence Becomes Me
5. She Weaves Shadows
6. The Closing Walls
7. Empty Room
8. Poisonous Tongues
9. As It Penetrates
10. Shades Of Yesterday

Added: June 11th 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Trail of Tears Website
Hits: 4746
Language: english

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Trail of Tears: Existentia
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-06-11 09:19:02
My Score:

This follow up to Trail Of Tears monster piece Free Fall Into Fear would utilize some of the same principles that worked well for that recording but this time around a little more emphasis would be placed on the Dark Gothic Metal aspect. While possessing three sets of vocals on previous recordings the dueling male voices would be more upfront this time around and the result is a thunderous and brooding piece that gets things going right away with the opener "Deceptive Mirrors". It's here we find the growls of Ronny Thorsen backed by the deep and dramatic voice of Green Carnation's Kjetil Nordhus over a driving musical score that even adds some symphonic chorals for good measure. The light and dark aspect of the male vocalists works well for TOT and it's all complimented by the beautiful voice of Emmanuelle Zoldan. Existentia would be my second experience with the band and compared to FFIF I can definitely say that this release might be a little more accessible to the listeners of other Gothic Metal bands like Tristania and perhaps even Therion. I enjoy what the Darker side of Goth Metal brings to the table as it takes the conventional stuff and makes it all the more dramatic and thereby making the music a little more exciting and unpredictable. The numerous vocal tradeoffs here make the listener feel as though they are experiencing a scripted stage performance at times. "Empty Room" has the ability to be a lead single for the band since it's the most atmospheric and elegant of the albums offerings and pretty much showcases Emmanuelle the most out of the remaining tracks. When it gets to "As It Penetrates" we find Kjetil's clean style handling more of the tune than Ronny's darker side and its one of the recordings most appealing numbers as far as overall drive is concerned. The music under all the vocals is to be commended for there is not a bad riff on the album and thanks to Runar Hansen (guitar), Kjell Hagen (bass), Frank Hagen (keyboards) and Jonathan Perez (drums) we get some incredible head banging moments. Hagen's keyboards are lush and really bring the atmospheric end to life wherever he can fit them in but it's not overused at all. Once you place this one in your stereo it's almost impossible to take it out after only a couple of songs. The band intrigues enough to make you let the whole thing play out and allow you the opportunity to enjoy in full the intense riffs that are presented in full throttle power. Trail Of Tears is a band that serves your need should you be seeking intense music with dynamic and interesting vocals. Given the way they combine all their elements their fifth album Existentia remains exciting with each and every listen that you give it.

The release does come with some dramatics as far as personnel is concerned as shortly after this was recorded all members of the band except for Thorsen decided to move on to other projects and interests. Thorsen has said he will continue the band with new members but only time will tell on how easy or hard that will be for him to accomplish. If Existentia is the bands last hurrah then talk about going out with a bang. Check this one out when you can.

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