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Theatre of Tragedy - Musique (20th Anniversary Edition)

Theatre of Tragedy
Musique (20th Anniversary Edition)
by Emily Schneider at 25 January 2021, 7:30 PM

THEATRE OF TRAGEDY hails from Stavanger, Norway. The band is one of the forerunners of Gothic Metal in the 90s, creating two of the most iconic albums in the genre "Aegis" and "Velvet Darkness They Fear". It is intriguing though that after establishing themselves in the genre, they craved to change their sound completely. They made the change nine years into their career with this album "Musique". Originally released in 2000, "Musique" is a rather drastic change for anyone who got to know the band previously. It’s more of an Industrial Metal meets Electro-Pop blend… and as a fan of their Gothic Metal albums, it was jarring for me the first time I heard it too. The band reissued this benchmark album in December 2020 with a first time on vinyl release plus a second disc of the songs remixed by the highly acclaimed producer Jacob Hansen (KATATONIA, UNLEASH THE ARCHERS, EPICA I could list countless others) and a few unheard/bonus tracks.

I essentially went down the tracklist and did a side by side comparison of the original song followed by the remixed version. I of course began with “Machine". The song itself is pretty cool; it has such a late 90s Industrial vibe with the heavy electronic synths and choirs. I have to admit, the remixed version did give this song a fresher feel with more prominent electronic bits and cleaner production in general. "City of Light" definitely took some notes from Industrial bands in the forefront at the start of the new millennium like RAMMSTEIN with the heavily distorted guitar riffs and staticy vocals. The slowed down middle to end section gives a taste of Gothic Rock melody-wise too. The remixed version made the electronic rhythms a bit too prominent at times, the raw sound suits this song better for me.

"Fragment" is very Goth Rock with some catchy hooks blended in. The remix sounds a lot better for this one, the original felt rather dated. The refreshed electronic melody and some cleaner guitar riffs made a world of difference. "Musique" is very Electropop. This one did not age well with the robotic style vocals and the really cheesy vocal hooks. Plus the goofy electronica sound effects were almost comical. There was no saving this song apparently because it’s one of the few that did not get a remix on this reissue.

"Commute" is an odd song. It has an almost Grunge Rock sound mixed with the Electro-Industrial vibe, I couldn’t quite grasp onto any singular aspect of the song because of it. The remix did help with this issue some amount, it’s now a bit more nostalgic sound-wise rather than just feeling like a mess. "Radio" is another ‘robot-voice’ infested song. It was a bit grating, truth be told. The remix added in some heavy electronic beats and enhanced more of the instrumental portions to help ease the grating vocals. "Image" is another purely Electropop track. The French version has a more playful vibe to it in feel, it was cool to hear. "Crash/Concrete" sounds like a Metal cover of a Street Fighter video game with the chuggy yet dancey guitar riffs. Time to button mash on a SNES controller until a combo miraculously happens eh? I enjoyed the remix of this one a lot too! The bits of orchestra blended into the melodic riff sections was a rad touch.

"Retrospect" is a solid Rock song with some synthesizer heavy portions. I mainly liked the weird Space-Agey bass lines throughout the track. The remix kind of blended the vocals so they felt like a faded memory,  I understand the intention with it but I didn’t much care for that. "Reverie" had a lot of  guitar amp feedback throughout that kind of drove me crazy. It’s much less grating in the cleaned up remix version thankfully. "Space Age" is exactly what it sounds like; synthesizers, mofi galore and of course, static robotic voices.

Overall, this album from THEATRE OF TRAGEDY is rather… interesting. It was certainly following the late 90s trend of Electro-Pop (like EIFFEL 65, SUNSCREAM etc). It’s more intriguing that they chose to reissue this album, not just because it was unpopular with old fans, but also because it admittedly did not age well either. Some of the songs were pretty catchy, but a lot of it was strange pacing and overdone auto-tune. It was a smart idea to have many of the songs remixed though. The remixes helped with the outdated initial mixing and production and made some of the songs bearable to listen to when they initially were rather grating to hear. I have a bit of bias because I’m such a fan of their albums from the 90s (and honestly, I love one of their later albums "Storm" as well) but "Musique" just doesn’t show their strengths as musicians as far as I’m concerned.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Machine
2. City Of Light
3. Fragment
4. Musique
5. Commute
6. Radio
7. Image
8. Crash/Concrete
9. Retrospect
10. Reverie
11. Space Age
12. Image (French Version)
CD2 (Remastered versions & Bonus Tracks)
1. Fragment
2. Machine
3. City Of Light
4. Reverie
5. Radio
6. Commute
7. Retrospect
8. Quirk
9. Crash/Concrete
10. The New Man
Lineup:

 

Raymond I. Rohonyi -Vocals
Liv Kristine -Vocals
Frank Claussen -Guitars
Lorentz Aspen -Keyboards
Hein Frode Hansen -Drums
Record Label: AFM Records
     


Rating

Unrated
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Edited 04 August 2021
 

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