Trail of Tears

Free Fall into Fear

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Over the course of three previous albums, Norway's Trail of Tears came across as yet another Nightwish-inspired goth metal band with alternating male and female vocals and very little to differentiate them from the seemingly dozens of similar European bands. However, after a lengthy hiatus caused by personnel turmoil, Trail of Tears reemerged with an almost entirely revised sound. After working with two different semi-operatic female singers over the course of three albums, the group has abandoned female vocals entirely: now, Ronny Thorsen's bellowing death metal growl is complemented by the cleaner, almost poppy vocals of ex-Green Carnation singer Kjetil Nordhus, a combination that works quite well. More importantly, the keyboards and gothy tendencies of the previous albums have been largely replaced by a more aggressive and guitar-heavy sound. It's not quite black metal as that style is traditionally understood: the tempos are slower and the overall sound is less pummeling and riff-based. Free Fall into Fear has nearly as much melodic development as Trail of Tears' earlier albums, with "Carrier of the Scars of Life" and the epic closer, "The Face of Jealousy," particular highlights -- it's just delivered in a gutsier, more aggressive fashion.

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