Darkest White

In early 2007 there was a massive change within the ranks of Norwegian gothic/symphonic metal veterans Tristania. Long-time female vocalist (and face of the band) Vibeke Stene departed Tristania, which elicited shrieks of horror and shock throughout the band’s fanbase. It was assumed that nobody would be able to replace her angelic voice and carry on the female-fronted tradition of Tristania.

In 2010 the band released Rubicon, the first album to feature Marieangela Demurtas in front of the mic. Though some within the scene heralded the album as the perfect next step in the band’s career, many long-time Tristania fans crushed it. Most felt Demurtas’ presence left a lot to be desired and that the band took a step backward in their musical progress.

In the opinion of some, that couldn’t have been further from the truth and the evolution of the musicians within Tristania, both as performances and composers, has been proven again on Darkest White. The band’s seventh full-length release, Darkest White sees Tristania opt for an even more diverse sound then ever before. Whether the sextet rampage with a vicious, incendiary attack like album opener “Number”, the gloriously depressing “Scarling”, the more vintage Paradise Lost-esque gloomy delivery of the excellent “Himmelfall” or everything else in between, Tristania never trip over themselves.

The band has always been keen on employing various tempos and influences within their musical output, but Darkest White has a much more worldly feel than any of their other previous albums. However, that’s not to say that Tristania has strayed very far from the core sound that made them stand out from the quickly-growing female-featured gothic metal genre of the early 2000’s. They still display the splendid atmosphere of melancholy through the music itself and even when Demurtas and company opt for a more grandiose or even cheery feel, the music still has that magnetic brooding vibe, as if darkness is always creeping around the corner to envelope the listener.

As always in the past, Tristania sometimes breaks loose with a more poppy/commercial song from time to time, and that trend continues with “Requiem”, by far the most accessible track of the album. In an odd sort of twist, the song, when it’s not hitting the more metallic overtones towards the end, actually comes off similar to some of the more serious The Cranberries songs of the ‘90s, though it is subtle.

One thing that has always made Tristania one of the best bands of this particular subgenre of metal is that none its female vocalists ever stole the thunder from everybody else in the band, something even the most successful groups of this ilk are too guilty of (Lacuna Coil, Nightwish, etc). Like on Rubicon, Demurtas fits the role perfectly as the soothing counterpart to Kjetil Nordhus and Anders Hoyvik Hidle; the rest of the band filling out the remainder of the pie superbly without being cast behind the glitz and glam of those fronting the band.

Darkest White is a terrific album from start to finish, and it further magnifies the strength of the band in the present day. There have been several key members coming in and out of the band over the years, but Tristania has never fallen victim to the pitfalls of said departures. If the fans of the band didn’t have their fears erased with the magnificent Rubicon three years ago, they should be extinguished on Darkest White, easily one of the band’s finest outings.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mike Sloan
August 8th, 2013


  1. Commented by: Noch

    I’m usuallly not big on gothic metal and have a way of skipping past the truckloads of it that drop by my front door. I’m glad I got myself some open-mindedness the morning I came across this one, it sure as heck is very different from what I expected from it in every respect. I gotta agree with the remark about the multiple genres thrown into this one – it’s really diverse and well-calculated, and thus kept my attention onboard effortlessly.

  2. Commented by: gabaghoul

    This was a pleasant surprise, as I’d written this band off years ago, after Morten Veland departed to form Sirenia. That band has been up and down since then, but Tristania has just gotten more and more insipid… until now. Still not classic like Widow’s Weeds or Beyond the Veil, but worth returning to.

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