Trail Of Tears Existentia

Existentia’s first few minutes storm by as a condensed summary of the entire album, showcasing the tightly woven threads that make up its multi-dimensional pattern: dark atmosphere and dramatic tension combined with pummelling riffs, flowing melodies, subtle orchestration and a rich vocal blend of growls and smooth singing, both solo and choir. Knowing the band’s recent history (the loss and re-recording of 2005’s Free Fall Into Fear, a mutiny in Mexico that nearly meant the end of the road) only makes Existentia more impressive. If there was frustration, it’s been channelled into the album’s aggression, and if there’s been discord, it has produced vivid contrasts rather than chaos. Instead of arcing across the record, Existentia’s development takes place within each individual song, alternately hard-hitting and catchy, eerie and airy, persuasive and soulful. Opener "Deceptive Mirrors” and "The Closing Walls” are particular standouts, and only the restraint of "Empty Room” breaks the pattern as the "quiet track.” If theatricality is not something you enjoy in your music, the album — much like any by Trail of Tears — might seem exaggerated or over-the-top, but for ears tuned to darkness and drama, Existentia hits all the right notes. (Napalm)