Theatre of Tragedy @ Camden Underworld

14th  March 2010, Review by Ben Spencer
Photography by Altercarnated Photography


Theatre Of Tragedy was a band that reminded me of my long haired, gothic trench coat wearing youth. Between the ages of 17-18 I was gradually treading through the gothic genre of music, a genre I was introduced to by symphonic metal band Nightwish and their ‘Century’s Child’ album. This album unlocked a genre of music at the time that I was ignorant of and yet longed to pursue. My journey began with Lacuna coil, Tristania and Flowing Tears. One day I came across an album cover in which a white rose lay across a red one with the italic font Theatre of Tragedy.

This band intrigued me and so I very quickly obtained this album along with the more cohesive and better produced ‘Aegis’ album. My interest in this particular genre of music desensitised over the course of the next year and without sight or sound of these guys on music channels I merely assumed that their flames had extinguished with the changing of times. To discover that the band was still around and that their show at Camden Underworld would in fact be their last, was an opportunity I did not want to miss out on.

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The South Eastern train services were experiencing several delays on this particular Sunday to which I was unfortunately unable to witness the opening performance of The Mariana Hollow. However upon my arrival second band Pythia were assuming positions on stage and with a ‘on your marks, get set, go’ energy as they raced through their set with an adrenaline that held these guys as one of my favourite acts of the evening.

I have never personally heard of them before but with anthemic moments found in ‘Sarah (Bury her)’ it becomes almost impossible for anyone not to feel sucked in, and I myself found the perfect wake up call to a genre of music I had long since let slip between my fingers. The quintet led by Emily Alice and her metal comrades are indeed worthy defenders of such a genre and it was for me a revitalising experience to witness and behold.

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The third band to continue tonight’s show was another female fronted act To-mera. To-mera were perhaps one of the more ambitious bands of the evening and yet as their set progressed, what became evident, was an overambitious semblance of music that presented them as a disjointed puzzle: with pieces that were either missing or pieces that did not fit the overall picture itself.

I personally have a strong passion for progressive music and musicians who emphasize upon technicality, however what holds a band like To-mera back from being one of these bands is their inability to rope ideas together and create a cohesive journey. The set delineated itself from the other bands over the night as To-mera threw out what felt like a jazz freestyle happy hour. These guys will turn most bangers into a flux of metal fans scratching the back of their heads in confusion.

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Main support Where Angels Fall stood in my mind as ‘a return to form’ act of the evening. The performance flowed organically into its genre however the vocalist failed to project herself on several occasions when contesting with what was actually well written music. These guys had a dark tonality to which captivated ones senses, I was left wanting to discover more from them and I hope to hear good things from them in the future.

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The moment we had all been waiting for had arrived. Theatre of Tragedy intruded the stage majestically picking up instruments and rearing to go. The lighting in the Underworld brightened for the headliners and then contracted as if the band themselves could swallow any such source with the dark void of their set. The set could best be described as a juxtaposition between angelic vocalist Nell Sigland and the husky demonic growling of Raymond Rohonyi.

Together these two polarized forms of vocals battle it out in a world of darkness and desperation. Although I have been exposed to this method of dualistic emphasis of dark and light shared between a clean vocalist and one that growls, the balance between both in theatre of tragedy felt like a scale that constantly titled either way and it was their mastery of this concept that kept the crowd glued to their set. I was also able to recollect certain songs the ‘Aegis’ album that I had spinning on my CD as a young metal fan. Raymond weaved imagery through the whispering narrative of ‘Cassandra’ which lay between the melodic guitars and slow Bass. Meanwhile the energy of ‘Lorelei’ sent shivers down my spine.

The gothic six-piece from Norway tell a story of romance, love and ultimately demise, one that you could imagine Catherine dying in the arms of Heathcliff in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.

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It was moments like these that beg the question of why I allowed all successive efforts to pass me by. The closure of Theatre of Tragedy left a somewhat nostalgic and bittersweet sentiment on my part as I had witnessed the end of their era and the end of the show.

These headliners were indeed worthy of surpassing all prior acts in terms of performance and my journey home was one that left me wanting to become reacquainted with their music even though the musicians themselves had hung up their guns. Ironically their name had duplicity in its meaning, for it was indeed tragic to see Theatre of Tragedy finally leave the music scene.

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