Theatre Of Tragedy - Musique review


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Band: Theatre Of Tragedy
Album: Musique
Release date: 2000

01. Machine
02. City Of Light
03. Fragment
04. Musique
05. Commute
06. Radio
07. Image
08. Crash/Concrete
09. Retrospect
10. Reverie
11. Space Age
12. The New Man [bonus]

Now, I don's think anybody expected this one. Here was Theatre of Tragedy, truly at the top of the heap of the Goth Metal movement. They had their own unique style, blending evocative and, admittedly, occasionally overblown Olde English-themed lyrics and a tight, doomy/gothic vibe. In 1998, they released what many consider their seminal work, the beautifully gloomy Aegis. Perhaps then they realized they could do no better in the sub-genre they had helped to create and, in 2000, decided to throw it all out the window.

Perhaps they were just tired of all the "thee" and "thou" crap. Let's face it, it was starting to get a little old. But, I doubt anyone expected Musique. Instead of just eighty-sixing the olde English and retaining their familiar style, Theatre of Tragedy opted to completely redefine themselves. Not only were they now singing about technology and the dark recesses of a city completely under its control, the music had also changed. There are drum loops, various electric blips and bleeps and a cold, almost mechanical vibe coursing throughout this album's veins. Hell, the first track is called 'Machine'; it's almost as if they're practically spelling it out for us before we even buy the record.

But, you know what? It works? mostly. Granted, I might be in the minority as many of their old fans took one look at this and threw up. That's a shame, though, because there's some really good tracks on here. In 'Fragment', one of the best tracks present, Liv Kristine once again proves to be one of the best female singers in metal as she croons through a song that blends a thick rock sound with something heretofore unfamiliar to ToT fans: a little groove.

Speaking of groove, 'Commute' is another groovy highlight as Liv and Raymond I. Rohonniy's travel through the city via 'she tube?. Here, and especially in 'Crash/Concrete', the heaviest track on the album, we hear why the band's picked up the sub-genre title of ?Industrial metal?. Not only is the subject matter reflective of this, so is the sound.

The words that keep coming to mind when describing ToT's transformation of sound are ?cold? and 'mechanical?. That might sound negative but here it most certainly is not. Frank Claussen's chunking out, Hein Frode Hansen's rhythmic pulse in ?Commute", ?Fragment? and other highlight track ?Reverie? roll to the beat of a great big metronome in a dirty, rusty, creaky factory. It's a bit grimy but it really works.

Like I said? mostly. There's some songs here that border on the kitschy and step over the line between experimental and just plain dumb. The title track, with Rohonniy's imitation robotic tone verges on the supremely annoying while Liv Kristine's declaration that she wants 'so get you off? in 'Image' just feels immature and out of place. Lorentz Aspen's keyboards play a vital role to most of the atmosphere present on Musique but on occasion it can get out of hand, to the point where certain passages sound like excerpts from some bad pop song.

The worst part to all of this though is that it seems that this was message the band had in mind from the start; 'Image' was one of the singles released. Why, when there are a number of other top-shelf tracks present, would you want to give the fans the cheap stuff? The mind wobbles?

But, I still like the album. So, to whoever has written off this band as another once-was that is no longer, I implore you to give Musique a shot. First and foremost, you must listen to it with an OPEN MIND. If you don's, you?ll probably hate it and, despite a few real clunkers among them, you?ll be missing out a pretty darn good listen.

Written by John P. Dunphy | 03.09.2003


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.


Comments: 4   Visited by: 100 users
16.06.2009 - 16:28
Liver Failure
Didn't like this album, even listening it with ''an open mind'', I could'nt appreciate. The rate could be lower.

member of the true crusade against old school heavy metal, early 80s thrash, NWOBHM, traditional doom, first and second wave black metal, old school death metal, US power metal, 70s prog rock and atmospheric doomsludgestoner. o/
14.10.2009 - 13:51
Concept One
I think you are only disappointed by the change of style, the album is not badly in its kind, it surely deserves a more high rating.
19.02.2010 - 00:40
The sudden change of style was to me a very bad surprise.

I love the first 3 albuns and as much open minded i can be this album is for me the biggest disappointment ever.
20.12.2015 - 22:34
I don't really like the whole album, although ''Image'' is one of my favourite songs in industrial gothic metal!!

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