I'd very much like to hear your thoughts on DARKEST WHITE.
First, the overall impression:
It's a very raw and stripped down album. The sound is dirty, with few synth parts, and very prominent harsh/extreme vocals. As a fan of extreme metal in general (though mostly black metal), this appeals to me very much, BUT it is also a double-edged sword.
The in-your-face rockers - like Number, Darkest White and Arteries - benefit greatly, and their raw emotions are enhanced, but the softer songs, with slower mood and grander choruses sound thin and crippled. Songs like Scarling and Lavender could really use a production like the ones found on Rubicon. They end up sounding like demos, like they were written with a more "common" Tristania production in mind. Anders said that they wanted to re-create the atmosphere they had on live concerts, where many of their songs sounded raw and heavy, but on the record, it kills many of the songs for me. It's a good album, better that Illumination, but I think Ashes and Rubicon had overall better material
Song by song:
Excellent track! The "black metal esque" opening melody sent chills down my spine, and the verses were fierce and powerfull. Anders' vocals are perfectly fitted for this sound; they are venomous snarls and raspy shouts - hateful and angry! Mary's vocals are very dramatic, and the stripped down production brings out her strength, I think. The synth in the middle was a huge plus!
Another excellent track! My pick for the best song on the album. Fantastic guitar riff, amplified by double-bass drums and Kjetil's roars. The choruses are very catchy and memorable, and the playful piano parts in the background are a nice detail. Impossible not to headbang in the middle.
A slower song, compared to the two openers, but still an excellent song. The main riff (after the opening/initial riff) is friggin' cool. The vocals are nicely placed, with deep vocals by Kjetil before Mary makes her grand entrance. The lyrics are a bit silly ("Free your dog of desire..."), but the last lines were haunting ("Raise your glass for those who smiled - swaying from their ropes"). The song builds up nicely towards the end.
A masterpiece. Pure and simple. My second pick for best song of the album. Mary's performance makes this song, especially her vocal melodies during the verses and in the chorus. The agressive riffs and the quiet build-up at the end had me stunned. This is the last song in a line of excellence!
Interesting songwriting, with hectic music and slow vocals.... too slow! It doesn't really go anywhere, and I feel like this is a filler. Here the production becomes a burden for Tristania. On Rubicon, songs like this wound shine, but it sounds flat here.
NIGHT ON EARTH
Riff-gasm throughout the song, strong vocals by Anders and Mary. The only problem I have, is that it's too short. It sounded like it was building momentum, but sadly it didn't go far enough. I understand that they are going for short and compact songs, but this one could have been an epic.
The low-point of the album. It's epic, sure, but the production makes it stripped down and empty. It needs a certain "lushness" that all Tristania albums had, but Darkest White does not. I'm not saying that stripped down can't be beautiful, but the song sounds like a demo with this songwriting and this production.
Here the album does a comeback. It's a very epic and beautiful song that works WITH the production, not despite it (like Lavender). It builds up and releases an orgasm of majestic artistry! Very epic, and very good!
Perfect closer! It ends as the album begins: HOLY SHIT THAT RIFF IS AWESOME! Another silly lyrics though ("The pacifist, the pussyfist").