Yes I am back (evil, mean and still bitchy)
I have taken a deep breath finally about two months ago and listened to Illumination and now I have taken the time to get to know the album as I welcomed it into my arms wide open.
The first impression was like, wow, this sounds promising, but I didn't get my hopes high, because I still had many tracks to go. But I gotta say I really like Illumination, it is a really solid gothic metal album, solid Tristania album. The first half of it is somehow to me personally more striking, powerful and organic, especially tracks such as Mercyside, Destination Departure, which is definately the highlight of Illumination, Sanguine Sky and The Ravens.
Overall the whole album has a really nice flow, I sensed some BTVish elements from moment to moment being vowed with the new Tristania sound; I also like the use of acoustic guitars accompaning the melodies. Melodies then again are really nice structured and momentarilly have a really light sound, but overall the structure of the whole album is IMO much better than it was on Ashes; I felt again that songs consist of several very strong and complex parts and they are bonded really nicely.
The vocals, well, yes, I would really love to have more extreme vocals, it would give the album the edge and sharpness I am missing in Tristania from the old days, but again, Vibeke seems more confident again with her new stlye, which flows from operatic to rock, more shaped than it was on Ashes. Osten is the same as he was, flawfless with his specific voice colour that fits Tristania the best.
So I can say I am really pleased with this album, I guess I am regaining my respect for Tristania as artists and composers and not just a mass of very talented and precise musicians. The only minus are imo lyrics, I really like the sur-realistic/romantic idea of the lyrics, but the composure of text is just not something that would fit me. I could read their older lyrics as poems easily, and as perfect poems, filled with ecstasy but the new style just falls out mellow.