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Review of Theatre of Tragedy’s "Assembly" the Last Album With Liv Kristine Espanaes as the Lead Vocalist

Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

The Significance of the Album "Assembly"

Assembly is the 2002 studio album by Norway’s Theatre of Tragedy and it is also their last album to have vocalist Liv Kristine Espanaes as their female vocalist. Since I heard the electronically influenced album called Musique and gave it an average score, I was willing to review and analyze 2002’s Assembly album and give thoughts and perspective on what the band did with this album.

What is the Musical Style of the Album Assembly?

What follows is a more extreme version of the electronic and techno style that we heard on the album Musique.

"Automatic Lover" is a Decent Song But It Does Not Make the Album Superb

The first song called "Automatic Lover" addresses relationships while the next song called Universal Race is about going to outer space, going to faraway places to discover new planets. However, the song Automatic Lover is a song that tries to say that some men really are not interested in true love but they want to take advantage of the woman with their kisses and advances. Do women really want to be around a man like that?

Liv Kristine's Voice is the One Redeeming Quality About Assembly

My first experience with this band was their Gothic rock influenced album Aegis which really impressed me. Even though the band dramatically changed their style for these last two albums, it takes a certain amount of patience to be able to take it all in and try to see the redeeming qualities of the album. Are there any redeeming qualities in the album Assembly? There is and that is the vocals of Liv Kristine.

What is the Album Assembly Really Like From a Musical Standpoint?

Play is a song about a woman that is too rich to satisfy her men, the ones that are pursuing her. The electronic element in the album Assembly is so far somewhat uninspiring in these first four songs as Ramond’s voice dominates the early part of the song. Superdrive the song isn’t bad but the lyrics are a cheesy attempt to describe a situation where a person wants to go out and make friends with a French girl. If the lyrics are cheesy, this does have at least somewhat of an effect on the song’s quality. Let You Down is an attempt by the band to try and sound like Karmacode era Lacuna Coil and this attempt fails somewhat. The song is about a woman that wants to avoid associating with a man that she feels pushed the line too much while pursuing her.

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An Analysis of the Album Assembly in 2018

This album doesn’t even sound like Gothic rock or metal at all but it sounds like a techno pop album which isn’t what Theatre of Tragedy should have done because that’s not even their specialty. Their specialty is either doom death metal or Gothic rock, none of which is present on this album. When a metal band has lyrics in songs that have to do with dancing to the music put on by some woman and then talking about being friends with her I mean this is not some romance novel it is supposed to be a heavy metal album. I would say that the songs Play and Automatic Lover are the decent moments in this album to this point but there is not something that really makes the listener think to themselves that they can be in awe of some musical brilliance or something like that. What I hear on this album is probably some early 2000’s version of Ace of Base with electronic and techno beats. The song Liquid Man has even more cheesy lyrics as the song tries to convey that there is a woman in the upstairs window as there is a reference to the place looking drastically different than before. The band that brought us “Theatre of Tragedy” and “Aegis” has flopped totally on Assembly and made to sound like a modern day pop and techno band. The last song called Motion has a soothing feel to it as there is a reference to running fast to get a ride on their preferred method of transportation. Not all is bad on this album and it does have its decent moments but unfortunately, it does not even score in the 70’s like Musique did.

"Automatic Lover"

Final Thoughts About the Album Assembly

So what kind of score does Assembly really get? It does not get as low of a score as other bands in the rock and metal genre. In other words, no this album is not as poor as Pantera’s The Great Southern Trendkill or Megadeth’s Risk album and the vocals by Live Kristine are not rough or annoying. I will give Assembly a 65 out of 100 points on the first full listen through the album even though I had listened to some of the songs at earlier times. Due to the nature of the album not having any songs that inspire a sense of awe in the listener, I cannot give Assembly a score higher than the 60’s if we use the 100 point scale. If the album had even two excellent songs, a score of 70 might have been appropriate but since there is no such awesomeness, I cannot give the album a decent score and so mediocre is what describes the album Assembly. There are albums that we listen to so many times that the music is able to grow on us but Assembly is just so different than the earlier Theatre of Tragedy releases and it sounds like just an average electronic sounding based album. Assembly isn’t a terrible studio album but this is not what Theatre of Tragedy should have created especially with this one being the last album with Liv Kristine doing the female vocals.

Rate the Album Assembly

"Universal Race"

© 2018 Ara Vahanian

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