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So far this month I have been spoilt, with a huge variety of great music already reviewed, and Norwegian veterans Tristania and their seventh album ‘Darkest White’ is another to be added to that list. Now, I have obviously heard of the name before (they have been around since 1995), but Tristania are a band that have so far escaped any close scrutiny from me, other than to listen to an odd track here and there; not because I haven’t liked them in the past but purely because you cannot listen to everything. Therefore, I am not going to be comparing ‘Darkest White’ to any of their previous albums, talk about the fairly large number of line up changes or debate which era or vocalist is the better. What I will be doing is focussing solely on my feelings for this album alone and telling you that if your ‘thing’ is a mixture of gothic, blackened, melodic death, and symphonic metal with perhaps even a touch of hard rock (e.g. Kamelot and Gothminister meeting latter day Dimmu Borgir without all the orchestration), all sung beautifully with huge swathes of haunting melody, then you have to listen to this album.

Immediately, what you notice is the triple vocal attack of Anders Høyvik Hidle (guitars & harsh male vocals), Kjetil Nordhus (acoustic guitars & clean male vocals) and Mariangela Demurtas (clean but not operatic female vocals) and the interplay between them works beautifully, with not one of them getting ‘overused’. Unlike Amaranthe who use a similar vocal approach but stick to a commercial, almost poppy, formula, Tristania use their vocalists where the song requires them, so any one of the three could be singing the chorus and that diversity really adds to the flavour of the album. I also absolutely adore the melodies, harmonies and key changes used on this album. Opening track ‘Number’ starts in a fairly fast black metal vein and just when you think ‘this needs to change’, Mariangela’s voice arrives at the perfect moment and within seconds you feel like you are listening to a musical aria, such is the strength of vocals and chorus. And the more you listen, the better it gets. From then on, the accessibility and quality of the album is fantastic. Only two tracks - ‘Lavender’ and ‘Cypher’ - fail to quite hit the heights of everything else, but not by much. Production and mix, courtesy of Christer André Cederberg (Anathema, Circus Maximus) is fantastic, with perhaps just the bass of Ole Vistnes lost a little. Everyone else involved - Einar Moen (synth, programming), Gyri Smørdal Losnegaard (guitars) and Tarald Lie Jr (drums) - play their parts with aplomb, all making a great album even better.

Whether this is the album existing fans of the band wanted I cannot say. I have read a couple of early reviews saying this has no melody or passion. I can only say those reviewers must have been listening to a different album from me. ‘Darkest White’ is beautifully melancholic and mournful but you cannot fail to be uplifted at the same time. Excellent stuff.
Napalm Records
Review by Rick Tilley
31st May 2013
1) Number
2) Darkest White
3) Himmelfall
4) Requiem
5) Diagnosis
6) Scarling
7) Night on Earth
8) Lavender
9) Cypher
10) Arteries
"...beautifully melancholic and mournful but you cannot fail to be uplifted at the same time."