Trail of Tears

A New Dimension of Might

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Part of the Scandinavian goth metal scene (Norwegian division), Trail of Tears put a symphonic metal gloss on otherwise standard goth metal as it moves through extensive use of Rick Wakeman-style prog pop synthesizers and occasional female vocals -- check out the chorus of the almost poppy "Denial and Pride," which could pass for Peter Gabriel-era Genesis in a really bad mood -- that brings the group closer to the more accessible end of the style. The usual clich├ęs of the genre are present and accounted for -- singer Ronny Thorsen's lyrics have the usual "I-am-a-golden-God" imagery favored by those who have never quite gotten that Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" was meant as a joke, and he usually sings them in that comical Muppet-character growl (so favored by European metallers) over Michael Krumins and Terje Heiseldal's permanently chugging guitars -- but there's a clever use of atmospherics and dynamics (soft/loud, male/female, electric/acoustic) that suggests something more. The closing "Bloodred Trance" is genuinely exciting and dramatic, and the limited-edition version's closing cover of Faith No More's "Caffeine" suggests a fruitful new direction in twisted progressive metal that Trail of Tears would do well to explore further.

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