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Can I just say, I'm glad Ashes was second place on my poll. I'm not looking forward to reviewing Fast Food Rockers. But let's move on to the review. In 2005, Tristania released Ashes, which is a really weird album. Even for Gothic Metal fans it was a strange album. Tristania came across as a much darker sound than the previous albums by lowering the use of choirs and aimed for a mixed bag of acoustic and black influences. This album is really sinister and probably one of the hardest Tristania albums to get into.
They where out of their comfort zone and it really shows. I would consider this a short album as it only contains 7 tracks. But some editions also include two bonus tracks called The Gate and Bird. Still too short. I'm reviewing the standard version of the album, but I'd recommend you search for those bonus tracks on youtube. The mood of this album is very consistent, the gothic vibes of Tristania are still there but it's a lot more gloomy and scary. It's perfect for Halloween.
At the same time the album is also very overlooked. It received a lot of mixed response when it originally released. Some thought they where a stale version of Evanescence. Some thought they where a shadow of their former selves, whilst some knew Tristania where progressing into a different route.
Libre is a haunting and aggressive anthem. This song is genuinely evil with sinister vocals and intense musical arrangements. As soon as you start playing the album it goes straight into the aggressive growls. What the song is all about is questionable, but it sounds like the devil's just been overthrown and about to be replaced by something else.
Equilibrium is a lot less heavier than Libre but still pretty dark. Dark and beautiful music is one of the band's best traits. The metaphors in the lyrics really add to the theme of questionable self worth. Even though it's not operatic, Vibeke and Osten sound brilliant on this track.
The Wretched has the same formula as Libre, but production and vocals on this track are no where near as good as Libre. I don't think it's got as much substance as other songs they have, but I've never really gotten used to this track even though the violins are nice.
Cure is a light, dreamy and adorable track with Vibeke's vocals. She shows off her soft and high vocals on top of piano and acoustic sounds. Another great track from the album. It's emotional, but also creative.
Circus is a scary song with random reserved notes, haunting atmosphere, creepy vocals and twisted lyrics. It's aimed for a niche, but I think it's an awesome track. Again it uses the same formula as The Wretched and Libre, trying to sound as hevy and agressive as possible.
Shadowman is a depressing song about a nightmarish man. This sort of music does so much justice for this kind of song because it kills all the cheese and hangs all the emotion out in it's glory.
Endogensis is one of the best songs of the album because it's so beautiful. It feels like a morbid chase. It's catchy, the bass is great, the vocals are even more fantastic and I can't help but have this song on loop for a while. I swear that anything Vibeke Stene touches is gold. The acoustic thing makes the growls sound a lot more shocking and the pure vocals from Vibeke calm the whole song down. This song is a real example of how magical her vocals are and the unpredictable music arrangements really enhance the track and leaves a lasting good impression on Ashes.
Tristania are now quickly becoming one of my favourite bands with fantastic vocals, creative vocals and original songs. They've taken risks and made some beautiful music, and a couple of dire tracks. Ashes to me, is their overlooked masterpiece. I would recommend this album. Not all of the songs are for me, but the songs that are, I totally adore them.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
3 The Wretched