Like so many Scandinavian metal bands of the '90s and 2000s, Theatre of Tragedy have had their share of personnel changes, and along the way, different lineups have offered different interpretations of Dream Theater's sound. On Storm, newcomer Nell Sigland (formerly of the Crest) replaces Liv Kristine Espenaes as Theatre's female lead vocalist; some longtime fans will wonder if there can be life after Espenaes for the Norwegian outfit, and the answer is a definite yes. Sigland sounds a lot like her predecessor, favoring an angelic, sweetly ethereal approach, and she proves herself to be a valuable addition to Theatre on an industrial-tinged goth metal/goth rock disc that is aggressive and rocking but never flat-out brutal. Theatre still goes for the female singer/male singer juxtaposition, but Raymond Rohonyi (the male lead singer) doesn't embrace an extreme vocal style; instead of a death metal growl, a black metal rasp or tortured metalcore screaming, what we get from Rohonyi is merely a mainstream vocal style with a slightly ominous edge. In fact, those who are hoping for any harsh, blistering, cave-your-skull-in antics on Storm will be disappointed; nothing really extreme or punishing occurs. What Theatre does offer is a highly melodic, very musical and listenable goth album with a strong sense of craftsmanship; goth enthusiasts will find a great deal to admire about Storm even if they aren't big metal fans. Along the way, Theatre of Tragedy have had their creative ups and downs (more ups than downs). The appealing Storm is one of their more consistent efforts and is a welcome addition to their catalog even though it isn't the sledgehammer assault that some headbangers were no doubt hoping for. ~ Alex Henderson
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