LIV KRISTINE – Paris, The Theatre, A Little Musique

By Carl Begai

Purely by coincidence, this interview took place on October 2nd, 2012; two years to the day Liv Kristine’s former band Theatre Of Tragedy – she was fired in 2003 – played the final show of their career. It only dawned on me an hour or two before we met up on the Leaves’ Eyes / Firewind tour to discuss her new solo album, Libertine, and the irony wasn’t lost on her either, particularly since she’s found extra room in her heart for the Theatre over the last year-and-a-half. The focus was on Libertine, but it was interesting to learn that her Theatre Of Tragedy roots played a part in its creation.

For anyone that’s been following Liv’s career, it’s no secret or surprise that her solo albums are very different from what she does with Leaves’ Eyes. Libertine is no exception to this so-called rule.

“Most people know that this is my fourth solo album, and all four albums have been in the indie pop-rock vein somehow,” Liv begins. “The fans seem to accept that my solo albums are very different from each other and from Leaves’ Eyes. For me it’s been clear all the time that my solo stuff isn’t really for the diehard metal fans. It could be, but probably not. When Napalm Records released Libertine on the Napalm label and not on Black Rose, which is the sub-label that they promised they would release it on as well as the video for ‘Paris Paris’, the metal fans were the first ones to hear it. They said ‘We don’t need this.’ Of course they don’t; I understand that. So, there was an issue with the record company but that’s now been solved.”

In the end, however, the record company’s gaffe may have paid off. Any fallout from the metal community for getting slapped with a pop-oriented album released from the same realms as Alestorm, Grave Digger, Ahab and Battlelore has been minimal at best. Judging by widespread reactions, Libertine has become a guilty pleasure for the leather-and-loud set. Continue reading LIV KRISTINE – Paris, The Theatre, A Little Musique

CARMEN ELISE ESPENÆS – 7:00am With The Midnat-Troll

By Carl Begai

Carmen 4

Talking to musicians / artists about the creative process is what this journalist tour-of-duty is all about. Actually being part of the creative process offers a new and valuable perspective of the time and energy spent on bringing the music from vision to the studio. Since 2004 I’ve played a small role in helping to shape the lyrics for the German / Norwegian folk metal band, Midnattsol, an ongoing collaboration that forces me to dig deeper each time vocalist Carmen Elise Espenæs asks for my feedback.

For the record, I couldn’t write a song to save my or anybody else’s life. When I was first approached by ex-Midnattsol guitarist / co-founder Christian Hector about proof-reading lyrics for their debut, Where Twilight Dwells, I took on the task not really expecting to do anything more than offer suggestions on using correct tenses and how to improve grammatical structure. In actual fact it became an interesting exchange of ideas with Carmen who, at that point, was very much in a learning-by-doing phase as a singer / songwriter.

Three albums in and Carmen has found her stride. In truth she doesn’t need my help anymore, but I was happy to offer it when she was finalizing the lyrics for the new album, The Metamorphosis Melody. I was pleasantly surprised – and more than a bit impressed – to find myself challenged by Carmen’s ideas rather than being met with grammatical errors, resulting in a full week of chaos and comedy as we bashed her lyrics into shape.

Following is our behind-the-scenes look at Carmen’s work on The Metamorphosis Melody, with me playing her soundboard and the voice of sporadic reason.

(And if any of this seems self-serving or narcissistic, it is. If you can’t be proud of your own accomplishments there’s no reason why anyone else should treat them seriously :-)…) Continue reading CARMEN ELISE ESPENÆS – 7:00am With The Midnat-Troll

The Day Goth Died — Closing Down The Theatre Of Tragedy

I’m not a huge goth metal fan, even less of a goth rock supporter. On the metal end of things the vast majority of goth-ick bands seem more concerned with having a hot piece of ass on stage front and center than the music, paired up with a male counterpart who wishes he was Peter Steele (Note to Doodness: There can be only one). The black #1 rockers, meanwhile, get their yeah-yeahs off playing the same three Sisters Of Mercy chords over and over from album to album, pretending they’re rejects from an Anne Rice vampire epic. It worked for The 69 Eyes and HIM, of course it’ll work for them…

How bloody boring.

That isn’t to say that all bands out of the goth realm suck – and Jeez help me, there are some knockout women to be drooled over – but very few have bent my ear for more than a spin over the last several years. Image, it seems, takes precedence over substance. Very sad indeed, especially in light of the fact that the band who gave goth metal life beyond the underground have decided to call it quits. Continue reading The Day Goth Died — Closing Down The Theatre Of Tragedy

THEATRE OF TRAGEDY – Forever Is The World (AFM Records)

TheatreOfTragedycoverTheatre Of Tragedy have always been good for a surprise. From ditching all growling vocals from their repertoire following a smash hit breakthrough album (Velvet Darkness They Fear), to going from doom-goth to electronica (Musique and Assembly), to firing singer Liv Kristine in 2003, to returning to their goth roots with a new female vocalist (Storm) the band has lived, breathed and occasionally died at their own hands for over 15 years. That said, fans are likely expecting something off-kilter to happen on Forever Is The World, but no one could have predicted male singer Raymond Rohonyi’s growls to return following years of swearing it would never happen. Continue reading THEATRE OF TRAGEDY – Forever Is The World (AFM Records)