By Carl Begai
It was announced back in February 2012 that Norway’s Theatre Of Tragedy, who spawned the career of Leaves’ Eyes vocalist Liv Kristine and officially called it quits in October 2010, were working on remastered re-issues of their first three albums: the self-titled debut, Velvet Darkness They Fear, and Aegis. Initially meant to be released in late 2012, Massacre Records have confirmed July 5th as the official release date for all three albums in digipack CD and double vinyl LP formats.
The re-releases will feature rare bonus material, and will also include a band interview conducted by me split into three parts, one for each album. It was an honour to be asked by the Theatre Of Tragedy family to contribute to the re-issues, and I consider it to be a personal career highlight.
Following is an brief excerpt from the interview conducted for Velvet Darkness They Fear, which will appear in full in the re-issue liner notes. Call it an attempt to help promote the releases coupled with my pride getting away from me just this once.
Velvet Darkness They Fear
Released in August 1996, Velvet Darkness They Fear is regarded as Theatre of Tragedy’s breakthrough album due to the popularity of the single ‘Der Tanz der Schatten’. It was unthinkable that a proclaimed doom-goth metal band could achieve commercial success on any level, yet they did just that. The Theatre’s German fans in particular embraced the song, leading to rumblings in the background that ‘Der Tanz der Schatten’ was a calculated attempt to cash in on a fanbase that had made itself known when the band’s debut hit the shelves the year before. This wasn’t the case according to drummer Hein Frode Hansen:
“Me and Raymond (Rohonyi/growls) were really into a lot of German darkwave bands like Das Ich, Lacrimosa, Goethes Erben and such at the time, and Raymond really wanted to do a song in German. A few of the other members were really against the idea and thought it would do more harm than good, and that nothing good would come out of it. Little did they know. The single hit both the metal crowd as well as the ‘grufties’ (goths) and became a huge club hit. What’s even stranger is when Brazilian bands cover a Norwegian band that sings in German (laughs).”
Vocalist Liv Kristine elaborates: “Both Raymond and myself chose German to be our third language at Gymnasium and we were hooked on the language. That was two years before we went on tour, but we wanted to write a song in German so we asked Tilo Wolf from Lacrimosa to help us with the lyrics. The version Raymond and I came up with wasn’t nearly as good as what Tilo wrote, but it was a good try and the song turned out really well. And one month after we’d recorded ‘Der Tanz der Schatten’, Ray and me both started studying German in university at home in Stavanger.”
“I have to admit that the song was never a favourite of mine from the start,” adds guitarist Tommy Lindal. “I remember when me and Lorentz (Aspen/keyboards) created the main melody; I was actually just kidding around with my guitar, but when the song was arranged with the right rhythm it really started to sound cool. But, I didn’t feel it was in the spirit of Theatre of Tragedy. When Raymond added his growls and the interplay with Liv Kristine it started to sound a little bit more like us.”
If one chooses to look at Theatre of Tragedy’s self-titled debut as an experiment – because it was so different, with nothing on the scene to challenge it – Velvet Darkness They Fear can be considered, according to Lorentz, “a clearer statement of the band’s musical identity and gave it a more powerful expression. The songs weren’t as diverse and they also matured in structure and sound. I think from that point we more or less lived and breathed the music and the joy of being in a band, giving it most of our daily focus.”
“Velvet Darkness gave us the opportunity to explore even deeper within ourselves,” Tommy agrees. “For me personally, the goal was to make the guitar be more in harmony with the keys, unlike the first album where the guitars mostly overrule the melody by breaking it off. The goal was simply to make Velvet Darkness better than our debut.”
“We always considered the next record as a progress,” adds Hein. “In that sense most of our records can be considered experiments in themselves, but to bring the mixture of classical, goth, doom and metal was very satisfying. And on top of it all, the people seemed to love it. It didn’t hurt that we had a luscious half- naked lady on the cover, either (laughs).”
And that’s half of Part 2. To see the rest, mark down July 5th in your calendars and watch Theatre Of Tragedy’s Facebook page here for updates.
Check out the liner note preview for Theatre of Tragedy’s self-titled debut here.