Tristania - Rubicon
Tristania are not a band unaccustomed to line-up changes, but with the departure of Vibeke Stene whose unique ghostly vocals were such a vital aspect of the band’s sound, you had to worry about where they would go next. Using this opportunity to make numerous other personnel changes, most notably bringing in Kjetil Nordhus to continue the dual male/female vocal fireworks alongside Stene’s replacement Mariangela Demurtas, Rubicon sees the band galloping off in yet another direction with gusto.
Whereas Vibeke had such a fragile, ethereal voice, Mariangela has a forceful, imposing style, and the band have adjusted accordingly; the music is still defiantly gothic, and definitely heavy, but this time around there is a strident confidence as well as more than a hint of pop sensibility thrown into the mix. ‘Sirens’ has a chorus to make any music mogul green with envy with its multifarious vocal harmonies, yet they fit perfectly against the dark, brooding verses built over thick layers of distorted guitars and pounding drums.
Personal highlights ‘Patriot Games’ and ‘Vultures’ emphasise the evil musings that permeate throughout Rubicon, and illustrate just how good a vocalist Nordhus really is, and how well he compliments Mariangela. Rubicon might not reach the heights of Ashes or Widow’s Weeds – the best examples from Tristania’s previous incarnations – but does indeed stand up on its own as a memorable and highly enjoyable album; and should this particular troupe manage to hang together they could indeed become yet another classic Tristania collective.