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Bandname: Tristania 
Genre: Gothic
Release Date: 22 January 2007
Record Company / Label: SPV /Steamhammer
Distribution: CNR - Petting Zoo Propaganda


Tristania is not a band which can be defined easily: with every new record the band shows an other side of itself. The polyphonic sound, atmosphere and bombastic remain characterising for this Noorwegian goth/melancholic metal band. They are more than which other band a master in combining female vocals with a guitar orientated sound. The previous album ‘Ashes’ (2005) was full of contrasts and with ‘Illumination’ they discover clearly another path. The innocence in albums as ‘Beyond The Veil’ and ‘Widows Weed’ has disappeared once and for all: the band is darker than ever.


Vibeke Stene – Vocals
Anders Høyvik Hidle – Guitar/Grunts
Svein Terje Solvang – Guitar/Grunts
Østen Bergøy – Clean vocals
Einar Moen – Keyboards
Kenneth Olsson – Drums
Rune Østerhus – Bass guitar

(With a new layout what matches with Illumination)
You can hear samples from the songs online at:

Song Review

01. Mercuryside -  4:39
The first song has a the wellkown guitarlines and the dry dumsound in the front of the mix. Above that male vocalist Østen with his deep, dark voice a là Tiamat, brings in the melancholy. Unexpectedly the aggression returns with some heavy grunts and a tempo acceleration. Female vocaliste Vibeke Stene can easily handle those changements: she keeps that fragile ethos around her. Especially the drums are creating the metal feeling. A whirlwind of emotions which leave the way open for the rest of the time. It makes me curious and those who know ‘Ashes’ easily will recognize that melody structure.The diversity is there and also the changements between the heavy and soft parts.

02. Sanguine Sky - 3:50
This song starts with Vibeke accompanies by a stringkwartet and arrangements. This time Einar has more space to be experimental on his keyboard. Rapidly the heavy guitars comes in. Østen has a very recognizable dark sound: he completes the low alto of Vibeke perfectly. This duet has all the space and with that the strength to grow. The number becomes more accessibly by the catchy refrain. Producer Waldemar Sorychta (Lacuna Coil, Tiamat and The Gathering) has found a good assessment by separating the layers clearly: the vocals on the forefront and the instruments more subordinate.

03. Open Ground -  4:40
The thirth song is again a tensing song: the advancement is unexpectedly and environment ominous. Vibeke shows a new side of herself: high, fragile and serene straight out of her heart. Every song on this record has an own mood and caracter. More than the records before Tristania let go the clichés in the gothmetal scene. The influences are there, you can’t ignore the past, but with the new elements the whole band manages to challenge themselves and the listener.

04. The Ravens - 5:06
With ‘The Ravens’ the perfection is complete. They played this song already live during their show on Metal Female Voices Fest. There it affected me because of the assemble from the voices.  Most strength lies in the dynamics between both vocalists: Vibeke and Østen in duel with technique and emotion, active to a climax which comes from their toes. It grabs you and brings you to a grant finale. The turn of the guitars is the precursor in this modern opera. Vorph (frontman Samael) screams it out: his dynamically sound leaves hollow behind.

05. Destination Departure - 4:34
Where the other song brought the listener to a higher adreline level, this song brings you down into a more dreamy atmosphere. A very passioned, fragile and pure Vibeke. The bombastic side of the band returns on the background. A new detail is the electronic beat and the more rock orientated guitar solo from Anders. Mixed with the string quartet: it is clear that this song and also others need a lot of time to grow.

06. Down - 4:32
Here continues the line of fragility, but mixed with the contrasts between soft and heavy. Both vocalists start on the same low, alto level and pushed it further with the growling drumsound: there is so much to discover in the melodylines of the rhythm section like bass and guitar also. The duet is changed into a duel between both voices and that makes it very exciting to listen at. This song is more catchy, so it stays in your head for a while I am sure.

07. Fate - 4:59
‘Fate’ brings a serene rest, varied with grunts and a tense drumsound. The acoustic guitarintro, no vocalis in this beginning, create a new atmosphere I haven’t felt yet. A moment of rest to think about what I have heard and what will come. A great job from Østen to be more outstending in his wellknown sound. Compliments for the rhythm section: it is so well balanced, detailed and moddest almost, that I hope to discover more and more soon.

08. Lotus – 5:08
It gets more emotional during ‘Lotus’ where a minimalistic guitar - and bass sound are more in front of the mix. You feel it grow and the arrangements make the circle round with an ominous beat. The ‘game’ between the vocalists are more than perfectly: it almost feels that they became one soul with one voice. Fragile, but still strong. Deep and also high: everything is there. Here it comes together in many emotions and melody parts: just feel it and you will recognize a high qualitated band.

09. Sacrilege -  4:15
An unpolished choir, the well-known bombast by the contrast of the guitars and the tension is there. The title could have been: surprise, because the band defenitly create a different melody than you think. Unexpected non-bombastic, more metal and vocalist Østen shows here his more high and heavy side. A bit more arrangements from the keyboard and drums: from a fast beat easily switch in one second to a more serene and open background where the guitars are more low and uptempo.

10. In the Wake (bonus)
not available on the promo version

11. Deadlands - 6:39
The acoustic ‘Deadlands’ is the end from ‘Illumination.’ Guitarist Anders Hilde shows a more fragile side. With the choir and both vocalists this is a song what brings the album to a higher level. Vibeke is again in the center of the attention. She is still the one who can carry the whole song and is a master in translation emotions and together with the others she nows how to lead you truth the song. The violins are a long cherished wish: the balance is perfectly. My head is full of  all those emotions: Tristania brought the passion and diversity.

Technical information

Total playing time: 48.25 min
Total numbers: 10 (or 11 when you have the non- promo version)

Cover picture


It has been tumultuous years for Tristania: after the release of ‘Ashes’ they played a tour with Nightwish, grunter Kjetil left the band. It made them only stronger. ‘Illumination’ is the end of their journey: this is what Tristania always were. This is music in his purest way, this is where the excitement comes back.  Don’t juge too soon, give this album time to get used to it. There is no band which can measure up to that: Vibeke is a vocalist who is so pure and with much timbre. She easily leaves bands like Nightwish and Epica behind. Vibeke is grown and also text writer and vocalist Østen shows that he can do more with his voice. Also the other members are more aware of their qualities and this album shows a more adult sound. Tristania exceed themselves. It is not an easy record, but outstanding, unique and full of passion!


Music: 10
Sound: 9
Extra's: -
Total: 9.5

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