Theatre of Tragedy was a Norwegian band from Stavanger, active between 1993 and 2010. They are best known for their earlier albums, which influenced the gothic metal genre.
Theatre of Tragedy was founded on October 2, 1993 by vocalist Raymond István Rohonyi, guitarists Pål Bjåstad and Tommy Lindal. Drummer Hein Frode Hansen had recently quit his former band Phobia and started looking for a new musical project to play in. A friend of his told Hein that a band called Suffering Grief was looking for a new drummer, and after contacting them, he joined the band. At the time, Suffering Grief was composed of vocalist Raymond István Rohonyi and guitarists Pål Bjåstad and Tommy Lindal. No bassist had joined the band yet, but Eirik T. Saltrø had agreed to play with them in live concerts.
After finding a rehearsal place, the band decided to work upon a couple of piano arrangements composed by Lorentz Aspen. The vocals, at the time, were almost entirely composed of raw death grunts.
After composing their first song, “Lament of the Perishing Roses“, the band changed its name to La Reine Noir and then to Theatre of Tragedy. They subsequently invited singer Liv Kristine Espenæs – Rohonyi’s then girlfriend – to do female vocals for one song, but quickly invited her to join the band permanently.
In 1994, their first studio demo was recorded, and in 1995, the debut album Theatre of Tragedy was released, followed by Velvet Darkness They Fear in 1996 and the A Rose for the Dead EP in 1997, which contained unreleased material from Velvet Darkness They Fear. Arguably, the band reached the apogee of its career in 1998, with the release of the critically acclaimed album Aégis.
Released in 2000, Musique was a massive departure from the gothic metal sound that Theatre of Tragedy had developed over the previous three albums. The heavy guitars and Early Modern English lyrics were replaced by electropop and industrial-influenced metal. It was met with a very mixed reception, and while some older fans were shocked by the new direction of the band, it did gain them a number of new fans.
With 2002’s Assembly, the band continued along the same musical path as on their previous album. It was seen as a more refined and confident electropop record than its predecessor. It was also the first album to feature their long-time session guitarist, Vegard K. Thorsen, as a full member of the band.
In August 2003, the band declared in an official statement on their website that Liv Kristine was removed from the band’s line-up due to “musical differences which could not be bridged”.
Female singer Nell Sigland (from The Crest) joined Theatre of Tragedy on the following year. In winter 2004/2005, the band performed a short concert tour (together with Pain, Sirenia, and Tiamat) with Sigland singing.
The band released their sixth studio album Storm on March 24, 2006, and a European tour followed, with Gothminister as supporting act. The album’s title song was released as a single on February 24, 2006. While still keeping on the industrial and electronic roots of the last two albums, the album showed a return to some of the sounds developed in their first albums.
On October 2, 2008, Theatre of Tragedy celebrated their 15th anniversary. In December 2008, the band posted a snippet of new track “Frozen,” which was expected to be on the new album, on their MySpace music page:
“Time for some updates. Things are slowly moving forward with the next album. As usual with the Theatre machinery there is many things to take into consideration when doing stuff and recently we were forced to change collaborators for the production of the album, and postpone the recordings. But fear not the heavy responsibility has been entrusted to Alexander Møklebust (Zeromancer, Seigmen, Gåte, Monomen, Delaware etc) and the ToT crew will enter Room 13 in May and June for recordings and general mayhem! Estimated release from AFM is end of September. Rumor has it that there will be a vinyl version for the diehard fans. We will keep you posted.”
June 2009 saw the band reveal Forever Is the World as the title of the new album. Their 7th album was released in Europe on September 21, 2009, with the band making a step towards their earlier sound of Aégis. A special tour edition of Forever Is the World was issued on March 12, 2010. The tour edition contained a bonus CD known as the Addenda EP, which contains song reworkings and unreleased tracks.
Metal Mind Productions issued a press release in July stating that they were, with the co-operation of the band, re-releasing Musique and Assembly. Both albums have been remastered and will be backed with bonus tracks. New liner notes and artwork are said to be a part of the package. Each album is limited to 2000 numbered copies.
On March 11, 2010, Theatre of Tragedy issued a statement informing fans of their decision to split on October 2, 2010. The statement cited personal desires to spend more time with family and an inability to juggle their everyday working lives with a “rock and roll” lifestyle. On March 12, Theatre of Tragedy kicked off their farewell tour, “Forever is the World Tour”. The Norwegian symphonic goth metal band Where Angels Fall opened for them on the European part of the tour. In September, fans helped the band to secure funds to finish their first and last DVD by making donations when the label pulled out most of the funding for the production. The result was Last Curtain Call, a concert film from their very last show on October 2, 2010 in their hometown Stavanger.
On July 5, 2013, the band’s first three albums were re-released and remastered.
In December 2015, Liv Kristine did a tour across Germany, Belgium, Russia, Poland, Netherlands, and United Kingdom, with her own solo project. She performed songs from her solo project and from Theatre of Tragedy like she usually does in solo concerts. Moreover, Raymond István Rohonyi joined her on this tour. She also played at the Metal Female Voices Fest XIII on October 23, 2016 alongside with Raymond. They also played a few songs of Theatre of Tragedy like they did in December 2015. The band members have stated, however, that there are no plans for a Theatre of Tragedy reunion, explaining that it is “as likely as a Doors reunion with the original lineup. No one has been approached or not approached.”
Forever Is the World / 2009
1. Hide and Seek
2. A Nine Days Wonder
10. Forever Is the World
Forever Is the World is the seventh and final studio album by the Norwegian gothic metal band Theatre of Tragedy. It was released on September 18, 2009, on AFM Records. The album was produced by the Zeromancer singer Alexander Møklebust and mastered by Bjørn Engelmann.
The cover art was designed by Thomas Ewerhard, who made the covers for the previous two albums by the band, Storm and Assembly. When the cover art was revealed on the band’s website, they said that it had been designed to incorporate elements from the covers of all of their previous studio albums as a challenge to their most diehard fans.
Since the release of the record there have been complaints about the mixing and mastering of the album with claims of fuzzing and clipping. The album has been linked by fans to the Loudness War.
Storm / 2006
3. Ashes and Dreams
6. Begin and End
Storm is the sixth studio album by the Norwegian gothic metal band Theatre of Tragedy, released in March 2006. It is the band’s first album with a new lead singer Nell Sigland. The song “Storm” was released as the album’s only single. The album shows something of a return to gothic metal, although its sound is much lighter and more upbeat than that of earlier albums and it still uses modern English lyrics. The band embarked on a European tour to support the release.
The cover art was designed by Thomas Ewerhard, who also made the covers for Assembly and Forever Is the World.
The song “Senseless” was originally titled “Seven”, as it is written in septuple meter and is the seventh track on the album.
Assembly / 2002
1. Automatic Lover
2. Universal Race
6. Let You Down
10. Liquid Man
Assembly is the fifth studio album by the Norwegian metal band Theatre of Tragedy, released in 2002. It continued the group’s move from gothic to a more electronic and pop style of music. This style was described as similar to “Siouxsie and the Banshees jamming with Ace of Base”.
Assembly was the last Theatre of Tragedy album featuring the vocals of Liv Kristine. According to Kristine the band fired her by email, citing musical differences.
While Musique themes mentioned radios, streetfighting and nightlife, the songs on Assembly generally focus more on people than technology, such as in “Play” and “Let You Down“. The album’s modern setting is still emphasised by “Automatic Lover”, which refers to modern nightlife, and “Universal Race“, which uses space travel as a metaphor for sexual intercourse.
A limited edition of the album contains the cover of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” as bonus track. The song was originally a hit by The Supremes and was also made famous by Vanilla Fudge and Kim Wilde.
The cover art was designed by Thomas Ewerhard, who also made the covers for the next two albums by the band, Storm and Forever Is the World.
Metal Mind Productions reissued the album on July 27, 2009. The album has been digitally remastered using 24-bit process on a golden disc and includes three bonus tracks, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On“, “Let You Down” (Remix) and “Motion” (Funker Vogt Remix). The album is limited to 2,000 copies.
Musique / 2000
2. City of Light
11. Космическая эра
Musique is the fourth studio album by the Norwegian metal band Theatre of Tragedy, released in 2000. The title on the album’s cover, [ˈmjuːzɪk], is the pronunciation of the English word “music” transcribed in the International Phonetic Alphabet.
Musique is the album that marked for the band the change from gothic metal with Early Modern English lyrics to a more electronic style, using Modern English. The change in musical direction for Theatre of Tragedy was associated with a change from traditional gothic and supernatural themes to lyrics based on modern life, including technology (“Machine“, “Radio“), nightlife (“Image“, “The New Man“) and streetfighting (“Crash/Concrete“). The song “Commute” has the line “It’s more fun to commute” in its lyrics, possibly a reference to Kraftwerk’s “It’s more fun to compute” from their Computer World album, which in turn is a reference to “It’s more fun to compete” found on old pinball machines.
Metal Mind Productions reissued the album after it had been digitally remastered using a 24-bit process on a golden disc. It includes three bonus tracks, “Quirk“ (Original Version) – also known as the original version of “Image” – , “Radio” (Unreleased Mix) and “Reverie” (Unreleased Mix). The reissue is limited to 2,000 copies and was released in Europe on July 27, 2009.
On the back of the album’s casing, “Space Age” is written in Russian: “Космическая эра“; moreover, the words “Гагарина, Терешковой, Леонова, Лайки, Белки и Стрелки” (“Of Gagarin, Tereshkova, Leonov, of Laika, Belka and Strelka“) are recited throughout the song.
The song “Reverie” begins with loading of a ZX Spectrum program from an audio cassette.
Aégis / 1998
Aégis is the third studio album by Norwegian gothic metal band Theatre of Tragedy, and the last album of their musical period defined by gothic stylings and Early Modern English lyrics.
As with Theatre of Tragedy’s previous albums, the lyrics are written in Early Modern English (except “Venus“, in Latin) which sounds very different from modern English: Vaunt! – Devil tyne – Wadst thou wane fore’ermae? (from the song “Angélique“). The subject matter is drawn from a range of European folklore and history: Venus and Poppæa are from Roman sources; Aœde, Cassandra, Bacchante and Siren are drawn from Greek mythology; while Lorelei refers to a Nix from German stories, and Angélique is inspired by medieval poem Orlando Furioso.
Velvet Darkness They Fear / 1996
1. Velvet Darkness They Fear
2. Fair and ‘Guiling Copesmate Death
3. Bring Forth Ye Shadow
4. Seraphic Deviltry
5. And When He Falleth
6. Der Tanz der Schatten
7. Black as the Devil Painteth
8. On Whom the Moon Doth Shine
9. The Masquerader and Phoenix
Velvet Darkness They Fear is the second studio album by the Norwegian gothic metal band Theatre of Tragedy. It was released in 1996 by Massacre Records. The album was issued in the US by Century Media Records in 1997.
Velvet Darkness They Fear continued Theatre of Tragedy’s particular brand of gothic metal, first heard in their first album, Theatre of Tragedy, defined by alternating and occasionally overlapping male death grunts and sung female vocals. This style, which was copied later by many metal bands, is generally known as ‘Beauty and the Beast’.
Velvet Darkness They Fear also continued the use of Raymond Rohonyi’s Early Modern English lyrics. “Der Tanz der Schatten“, which is written in German, is the exception. The songs themselves rarely have a clear story, but death, undeath, demons and similar supernatural elements are all prominent. The lyrics to the songs are referred to within the sleeve notes as ‘plays’, ‘poems’ and one ‘soliloquy’, depending on the parts the singers play.
The fifth track, “And When He Falleth“, includes a section of Jane Asher and Vincent Price’s dialogue from the film The Masque of the Red Death.
The album sold over 125,000 copies
Theatre of Tragedy / 1995
1. A Hamlet for a Slothful Vassal
2. Cheerful Dirge
3. To These Words I Beheld No Tongue
4. Hollow-Heartéd, Heart-Departéd
5. …a Distance There Is…
6. Sweet Art Thou
8. Dying – I Only Feel Apathy
Theatre of Tragedy is the first studio album by the Norwegian gothic metal band Theatre of Tragedy. The album was issued in the US by Century Media Records in 1998.
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