Trail of Tears

It may seem somewhat trendy, but I really dig this “goth metal” genre. I love the blending of the ambient keyboards with the heavy guitars. I also dig the combination of deathy vocal growls and operatic female vocals. One reason I find myself being drawn to this style, is that the music produced by such bands is very dramatic, passionate and melodic. Norway’s Trail of Tears is no exception. They fuse dark melodies and morbid ambience with metallic intensity.

Male vocalist Ronny Thorsen has a deep, guttural delivery akin to Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt. His growls are ominous, yet clear and decipherable at the same time. Helena Iren Michaelsen has a beautiful soprano and adds a layer of chilling beauty to the music (note: Helena is no longer in the band and has been replaced by Catherine Paulsen). The remaining band members cannot be divided or singled out in any way. They each use their instruments as part of the entire presentation, with no special attention given to guitar or keyboard solos, drum pyrotechnics, or vain, overindulgent playing.

The focus of Profoundemonium is, without a doubt, placed squarely on the songs themselves. Runar Hansen (lead and acoustic guitars), Terje Heiseldal (guitars), Kjell Rune Hagen (bass), Frank Roald Hagen (synths) and Jonathan Perez (drums) all work together as different colors on the same canvas creating a captivating combination of rage and solace, madness and melody, skill and emotion. The music here treads ground somewhere between Opeth and Theatre of Tragedy. Melancholic melodies, sweeping synth textures, and emotional vocals all built upon a solid metal foundation. “Driven Through the Ruins” begins as a powerful, symphonic metal epic before dropping in Thorsen’s rich growl. Michaelsen’s haunting voice is showcased in the breakdown, which is stripped down to a piano, her voice, and a desolate synth texture. When the songs kicks back in, another verse takes us to some great vocal layering. Thorsen delivers his lines, while Michaelsen offers a stunning countermelody, all underscored by a choir.

“Sign of the Shameless” has a melodic guitar theme on the intro, which is played almost like a violin part – smooth and flowing, reminding me of Saviour Machine. The clean guitar breakdown once again highlights Michealsen’s excellent voice. “In Frustration’s Web” begins in bombastic fashion with some good double kick drum work by Perez, accented by F. Hagen’s dramatic synths before sneaking in a little distorted bass run, then dives into a tight metal groove. This song’s prelude, “In Frustration’s Preludium,” is a short little instrumental consisting of a piano/synth melody colored by a little bit of accordion, then slithers into a bleak atmosphere accented by what sounds like plucking violin strings.

The moods and textures created by the band are quite moving. This is an album to listen to through headphones, in bed, with the lights out. Lyrically, the band weaves somewhat poetic tales of loss, tragedy and desperation. Without going into detail about each and every song, overall I can say I am really pleased with Profoundemonium. Those enamoured with the genre would be doing themselves a huge favor by purchasing this record.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Shawn Pelata
May 13th, 2000


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