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Review: "Aegis" by Theatre of Tragedy Their Best Album With Vocalist Liv Kristine Espanaes

Updated on February 2, 2020
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Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is looking to always explore his writing opportunities.

Reasons for Theatre of Tragedy's evolution as a band

Every band has a defining moment or musical peak as this writer calls it. Norwegian band Theatre of Tragedy reached this musical peak with their 1998 album called "Aegis". How did it get to this point for this band? Let's get this article started by saying that the band progressed and matured from a death and doom metal band and they turned themselves into a good dual vocal Gothic band similar to Italy's Lacuna Coil. In Lacuna Coil's case however, they began their career as a Gothic rock band and then they evolved into a more heavy rock band. Note: Liv Kristine is the shorter name of Liv Kristine Espanaes.


Why is the album Aegis the Finest Moment Musically for Theatre of Tragedy?

The songwriting with songs such as Lorelei, Venus, Poppaea, and Bacchante show that not only can the band still succeed with the art of beautiful vocals but the songs are still catchy enough to keep you interested. The first song Cassandra has Raymond Rohonyi demonstrating a change in vocal style. Gone are his death metal growls of the first two albums and he is now using a lower octave voice that is soothing and more quiet.

Aegis: "Cassandra" and "Lorelei"

I can notice that his accent sounds like someone from England. There is a sort of thundering sound in this first song that doesn’t literally sound like thunder but it is powerful in a musical sense.

Then comes the great mid-tempo Gothic rock style song Lorelei. There is a vocal part in which Raymond and Liv Kristine go back and forth which is not only a good contrast vocally but it shows Liv Kristine can be soothing and gentle. Her best vocal part in the song is when she says: “a poet of tragedies, yet who the hell was I to dare?” Her vocals are not as powerful as Kari Rueslatten but they may be more soothing and somewhat operatic.


Theatre of Tragedy is One of the Best Norwegian Metal Bands Because...

Even though Theatre of Tragedy was not able to create an album as masterful as Aegis as they adopted more electronic sounds in their later albums, they have left their mark on the Gothic metal scene. Their place in history as one of the best Norwegian bands is virtually assured. The song Lorelei is one more example of the band's greatness and you will soon find out why.

The Songs Angelique and Aoede

Angelique continues in the tradition of soft, slower, atmospheric Theatre of Tragedy. Without the death metal growls, it may be a little easier for some of you to understand Raymond’s vocals. I also can hear somewhat of a Paradise Lost influence in this song. The lyrics of the songs on Aegis are still in the old English style. The next song called Aoede has Raymond doing the vocals as he chants “come see as the wind.” The song called Venus starts with the piano playing. The lyrics for this song are mostly in Latin. The song describes someone that was thought to be a friend that would send a disciple from Heaven.

The album Aegis comes to a brilliant finish with songs like Poppaea & Bacchante

Poppaea has the most powerful singing by Liv Kristine and that’s one of the reasons that I enjoyed this song in 1998 and I especially enjoy it now in 2019. Her two strongest lines are when she sings: “stay my adamant, suffer me to transfix thee.” And the last song Bacchante has Raymond doing a nice chant of the word celebration. Theatre of Tragedy should celebrate Aegis as their strongest release and they should be proud of their work through the 5 year period between 1993 and 1998. Poppaea is one of those songs that slowly builds up into a great Gothic metal kind of song that is still strong in 2019 as we head into 2020.

Special Comment About the Album Aegis

Note: it has been 20 years since the release of Aegis and I just happen to be revising this review at a time when life is starting to blossom for me! Thanks to this vast Universe for blessing me with the talents of the written word which I can then use to entertain people around the world!

Final score: 98 out of 100 points


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© 2017 Ara Vahanian


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