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Vampiric metallers Theatres Des Vampires have evolved further and further away from their symphonic black metal roots with each new album since original frontman Lord Vampyr's final album wth the band, 2004's 'Nightbreed of Macabria' (which itself strayed from their established style on previous releases). A year later saw the issue of seventh full-length 'Pleasure and Pain', the album where Sonya Scarlet assumed sole lead vocal duties and perhaps a pivotal turning point in the band's history and style in terms of the Theatres Des Vampires people are aware of today - a more straightforward symphonic goth metal act. A band I've always found patchy in their recorded output, 'Moonlight Waltz' is, without a doubt, the Italians' most accomplished and consistent effort in their modern-day stylings. The production is better than it's ever been on any previous release, and the symphonic elements are more emphatically bombastic, yet cohesive with the songs' metal underpinnings. There's nothing too innovative at work here, rather the music is fairly generic throughout, although it's so well executed and brimming with layers of melodically catchy instrumentation that it provides an overall addictive listening experience. The orchestral parts are particularly good this time round, courtesy of the Classical Music Academy of Rome and director Luca Bellanova. There are moments of divergence from the stylistic genericism such as the opening keyboard sonics on 'Sangue' which sounds as if they've perhaps been inspired, bizarrely, by the Nintendo-core subgenre, and the rather beautiful ballad 'Figlio Della Luna' which sees Scarlet deliver her most passionate vocals on the entire album. More of this in the future please! The occasional guest vocalist crops up here and there such as Snowy Shaw on opening track 'Keeper of Secrets' and female growler Cadaveria on 'Le Grand Guignol' although their contributions are minimal in duration so the album's probably not worth checking out if you're just a fan of said singers. Diehard fans of the band might be interested to know that the limited slipcase version of the album includes a bonus DVD with, among other features, a video for the track 'Carmilla' and a documentary about the making of the album, so there's added value for money there. Oh, and the cover art's fantastic. So, 'Moonlight Waltz' is Theatres Des Vampires best work during the past decade, and they edge ever more towards making an album that is great. At the moment, though, they just attain "very good". Had there been more of the passion that's on display in 'Figlio Della Luna' then perhaps I would be able to call this album great.
Aural Music
Review by Mark Holmes
14th January 2011
1) Keeper of Secrets; 2) Vampires Fly Away
3) Moonlight Waltz
4) Carmilla
5) Sangue
6) Figlio Della Luna
7) Black Madonna
8) Illusion
9) Le Grand Guignol
10) Obsession
11) The Gates of Hades
12) Medousa
"...the Italians' most accomplished and consistent effort in their modern-day stylings."