Theatre of Tragedy was a Norwegian metal band originally assembled in 1993, whose earlier albums are among the seminal works of the Gothic Metal genre. They helped pioneer the technique of Soprano and Gravel: while not the first to use it (Celtic Frost, Paradise Lost, and The Gathering did it before them), they were the ones to popularise it, as well as the first to give equal prominence to the male and female vocalist, resulting in the technique being a staple of the genre, possibly to the point of overuse.
Their first three albums featured growled vocals and lyrics written predominantly in Early Modern English. From Musique onwards, the band abandoned Early Modern English lyrics and death grunts, also switching to industrial rock for two albums. They returned to Gothic Metal on Storm, though it was more modern-sounding than their first three albums and still had modern English lyrics. Their final album, Forever Is the World pays tribute to all the styles they had played, while still giving them a more contemporary Gothic Metal sound.
The band split on October 2nd, 2010, 17 years to the day after forming, with a concert in their hometown of Stavanger, Norway, which was recorded and released as a farewell CD/DVD.
- Raymond István Rohonyi - Vocals, Programming, lyrics (1993-2010)
- Nell Sigland - Vocals, lyrics (2004-2010)
- Frank Claussen - Guitar (1997-2010)
- Vegard K. Thorsen - Guitar (1999-2010)
- Lorentz Aspen - Keyboards (1993-2010)
- Hein Frode Hansen - Drums (1993-2010)
- Liv Kristine - Vocals (1993-2003)
- Pål Bjåstad - Guitar (1993-1995)
- Tommy Lindal - Guitar (1993-1997)
- Eirik T. Saltrø - Bass (1993-2000)
- Geir Flikkeid - Guitar (1995-1997)
- Tommy Olsson - Guitar (1997-1999)
- Theatre of Tragedy, 1995
- Velvet Darkness They Fear, 1996
- Aégis, 1998
- Musique, 2000
- Assembly, 2002 (Liv Kristine's last album with the band)
- Storm, 2006 (Nell Sigland's first album with the band)
- Forever Is the World, 2009
Major studio EPs:
- A Rose for the Dead, 1997
- Inperspective, 2000
- Addenda, 2010
- Closure:Live, 2001 (with Liv Kristine)
- Last Curtain Call, 2011 (with Nell Sigland)
- Der Tanz Der Schatten, 1996
- Cassandra, 1998
- Image, 2000
- Machine, 2000 (also got a videoclip)
- Envision, 2002
- Let You Down, 2002 (also got a videoclip)
- Superdrive, 2002 (promotional only)
- Storm, 2006 (also got a videoclip)
- Deadland, 2009
- Demo 1994 (cassette)
- Theatre of Tragedy Massacre's Classix Shape Edition, 1999 (shaped CD compiling several b-sides)
- Remixed, 2019 (compilation or old and new remixes)
- Various boxsets, slipcases, combined albums or EPs.
Tropes about the band:
- The Band Minus the Face: According to Liv Kristine's fans after her firing; Nell's fans beg to differ.
- Barbarian Longhair: As befitting a Norwegian metal band, especially in the early days. All the boys have had hair past their shoulders at some point, with Raymond and Hein sporting it for the longest time.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: A variation between the frontwomen. Liv is platinum blonde, Nell has been both a brunette (during the Storm era) and a redhead (during the Forever Is The World one).
- Hairstyle Inertia: Raymond's got a nearly perfect score, being the only male member that kept his hair long and dark, metalhead style, for almost his entire tenue in the band, only cutting it short after shooting the Forever Is The World promo photos, by which point he couldn't wait for the tour (and the band) to be over. He even kept it long during the Musique and Assembly eras, when even Hein first bleached his own platinum and then cut it to a Nineties curtain style).
- Downplayed with both Liv and Nell. The former changed many styles and lengths, but always kept her trademark platinum blonde colour. The latter has changed colours and worn it down in a few photos, but has most often sported her trademark half updo with a side part and a loose, teased out bun atop her head (the Last Curtain Call DVD being a notable exception).
- Hell-Bent for Leather: Many looks of Liv Kristine. Her red leather ensemble from the "Machine" videoclip and Musique promo pics is particularly iconic.
- Lady in Red: Liv had her iconic red leather jacket and trousers during the Musique era, Nell her trademark red corset during the Forever Is The WorldTour.
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Vegard when he wore his hair long.
- Of Corsets Sexy: Both Liv and Nell, as befitting the frontwomen of one of the pioneering bands of Gothic Metal. Nell wears a red one on Last Curtain Call.
- Younger than They Look: Sorry, Liv.
Tropes of Tragedy:
- Androids Are People, Too: In the "Machine" videoclip. The panning shot of a bereft cyborg!Raymond when Liv leaves him stranded in the wilderness evokes this. The lyrics do too, depending on how literally one interprets them.
- The Anti-Nihilist: The undrlying theme on Forever Is The World which, while very melancholic in general, often has a hopeful undertone. Nell said she wanted to bid the fans goodbye on a positive note.
- "Only man ends but forever's the world,
Just don't fall asleep.
So here we say at the edge of the world,
Cluthing at straws, keep each other awake,
The world will not end on this shift.
I never knew anything felt like this,
It has just begun."— "Forever Is The World"
- Arc Symbol: The two roses, one fresh and one withered, were a recurring visual motif in the artworks of the first three albums and first EP. They made a come back on Forever Is The World too.
- Break Up Song: Surprisingly few, considered the genre: just "...A Distance There Is...", "Let You Down" (which is very snarky), and "Debris".
- Changed for the Video: "Machine". "Der Tanz Der Schatten", "Ade" and "Cassandra" also got radio / single edits, the latter (called the "Cheap Wine Edit") being the version the band has always performed live, including on Closure:Live and Last Curtain Call. "...A Distance There Is..." also got a drastically shortened version when played live (such as in Closure:Live).
- Continuity Nod: As their final studio album, the cover artwork of Forever Is The World features visual elements from all the previous ones: the crossed roses from the self-titled; velvet from Velvet Darkness They Fear; fire from Aégis; a gas mask from Musique; nautilus shells from Assembly; the stylised "ToT" logo from Storm.
- Cover Version: One of Joy Division's "Decades" on A Rose For The Dead, and one of Kim Wilde's "You Keep Me Hangin' On" during the Assembly era.
- Curbstomp Battle: "Crash/Concrete" details one from the receiving end.
- Cyborg / Ridiculously Human Robots: Raymond plays one of these in the "Machine" videoclip.
- Darker and Edgier: Forever Is The World marked the return of grunts for the first time after nine years.
- In live performances Raymond tends to grunt even on the spoken parts from Aégis, Musique and Storm, as heard on Last Curtain Call.
- Dominatrix: "Virago".
- Doom Metal / Death Metal: Their first two albums, at least, are part of the "death/doom" genre (death metal + doom metal). In fact, when Theatre of Tragedy first started (before Liv Kristine was a permanent member), they almost exclusively used death growls.
- Epic Rocking: A fair amount of the songs from their first three albums. From Musique onward, the longer songs would only reach five or occasionally six minutes.
- Femme Fatale: "Poppæa" from Aégis.
- Flowery Elizabethan English: The first three albums only. Occasionally this led to Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe with some verb conjugations or mixing up "thy" and "thine," but it set the tone very well. Abandoned from Musique onward.
- "There hath past away a glore fro the Earth;
A glore that in the hearts and minds of men,
Men dementéd - blindfoldéd by light,
Nourisheth as weed in their well-groom'd garths."— "And When He Falleth", from Velvet Darkness They Fear
- Foreign Language Title: Musique has no good reason for having a French title; not even the lyrics of the title track contain any!
- Genre Shift: From Gothic Metal to Industrial Metal, then back again.
- Gothic Metal: One of the most influential bands of the genre, though they moved away from it on Musique and Assembly.
- Grand Finale: Their final show, in their hometown Stavanger, was recorded and released as the live album Last Curtain Call.
- Gratuitous French: Deliverbately invoked in "Superdrive" with the protagonist's poor attempts at flirting with the French girl. Also, "Image" got a version française for... reasons. And the title of Musique itself.
- Gratuitous German: "Der Tanz Der Schatten" and "Der Spiegel", to cater to the Germans Love David Hasselhoff phenomenon. Also some bits on "Space Age".
- Gratuitous Latin: "Venus" adapts three Carmina Burana into the verses and post-chorus: "Circa Mea Pectora", "Amor Volat Undique" and "Tempus Est Iocundum".
- Hotter and Sexier: The artistic nude on the cover artwork of Velvet Darkness They Fear looks tame compared to the music video for "Image".
- Instrumentals: "Monotonë" from the Self-Titled Album.
- Just a Machine: Liv's character in the "Machine" videoclip seems to think so of cyborg!Raymond.
- Kiss of the Vampire: A recurring theme on Velvet Darkness They Fear and A Rose For The Dead.
- Lighter and Softer:
- Aégis compared to the first two albums: it was the first to do away with growls in favour of soft-spoken male vocals.
- Storm too, when the band Revisited The Roots.
- Loudness War: Forever Is the World was their biggest offender.
- The Muse: "Ade".
- Neon City: "City Of Lights" has all the hallmarks, from the shiny exterior to the less savoury interior.
- New Sound Album: The Genre Shift from Aégis to Musique was controversial, but Aégis itself was also a tad Lighter and Softer than the two albums before it.
- Non-Appearing Title: Theatre of Tragedy, Aégis and Assembly all have neither a Title Track nor a Title Drop. As for individual songs:
- The demo "Soliloquy".
- "Sweet Art Thou" from the self-titled; "Monotonë" too, but it's an instrumental, so that's a given.
- "On Whom The Moon Doth Shine", "The Masquerader And Phnix" (thou "the masquerader" does), and the title track from Velvet Darkness They Fear. "Der Tanz Der Schatten" and its English counterpart, "As The Shadow Dance", both mention the respective words, but only mixed up in a full sentence.
- "Decades" from A Rose for the Dead.
- "Angélique", "Siren", "Samantha" and "Virago" from Aégis.
- "Retrospect" from Musique. The title of "Image" is not mentioned either in the English or the French version, nor is its demo name, "Quirk".
- Assembly takes the cake: "Superdrive", "Envision", "Liquid Man", and "Motion". "Episode" neither, though it gets a mention on "Superdrive".
- "Disintegration" on Storm.
- "Transition", "Empty", and "Illusions" on Forever Is The World. In "The Breaking", "break" appears, but as a verb.
- One-Woman Song: Every song title in Aégis, referring to women in mythology and ancient history.
- One-Woman Wail: Raymond only appears in half the songs on Forever Is the World, but the title track deserves special mention for how Nell's vocals are used.
- One-Word Title: Aégis did this for every song, but every album after generally stuck to this rule as well ("Machine," "Image," "Hollow," "Storm," "Frozen," etc.) with only a couple exceptions. Their first two albums mostly used phrases for song titles.
- Our Sirens Are Different: "Lorelei" and "Siren" on Aégis.
- Performance Video: In "Storm" the band performs the song in an industrial complex while rain, wind and lightning rage all around them.
- Power Ballad: "Fade" from Storm and "Forever Is The World" from the album of the same name.
- Religion Rant Song: "And When He Falleth".
- Sampling: "And When He Falleth" has a lengthy instrumental interlude featuring almost an entire dialogue from The Masque of the Red Death.
- Unsurprisingly, the demo "Soliloquy" samples the famous one from Hamlet.
- Seers / The Cassandra: "Cassandra", obviously.
- Self-Backing Vocalist: Liv had her moments, Nell loved having fun with that when writing her own vocal lines.
- Self-Titled Album: Their debut, as seen above.
- Shirtless Scene: In true drummer fashion, Hein has one in the "Image" videoclip.
- Shown Their Work: When writing a song about a muse on Aégis, Raymond didn't just stop at the nine, better-known Olympian Muses, but went back to Aoede, one of the three lesser-known original Beotian muses.
- Soprano and Gravel: The Trope Codifier, with their first two albums popularising this technique. Their later works keep the style, but do it slightly differently: Aégis alternates it with softly spoken or whispered parts; Musique, Assembly and Storm have male vocals which are mostly spoken or sung clean in a monotone; Forever Is the World brings back some growl alongside the spoken parts.
- Spell My Name with an S:
- Given the use of Flowery Elizabethan English, several titles include accents or other special characters and are thus rarely spelled correctly online, epecially in the Anglosphere. These include: "Hollow-Heartéd, Heart-Departéd", "Mïre", "Monotonë", " The Masquerader And Phnix", "Angélique", "Ade", "Poppæa", and Aégis itself. There are some inconsistencies even on the band's official website!
- Other frequent victims are songs with punctuation in the titles, such as "Dying - I Only Feel Apathy", "...A Distance There Is...", "Fair And 'Guiling Copesmate Death" (see the apostrophe?), and "Crash/Concrete".
- Is it Musique, with the song "Space Age"? Or ['mju:zik] with "Космическая Эра"?
- Raymond István Rohonyi and Liv Kristine Espenæs get that a lot, too.
- Stepford Smiler: The "Automatic Lover" doesn't really enjoy your company, honey.
- Take That!: Considering the average fan response whenever there was any change in the band or its sound, especially after Liv Kristine got fired, "Highlights" sounds a bit like that:
- "No reversal of our course,
We have put up with a lot:
Never again will we say sorry!"
- The Tragic Rose: A recurring lyrical metaphor in their early releases, most motably "A Rose For The Dead". Also a recurring visual motif on the accompanying artworks.
- Title Drop:
- Velvet Darkness They Fear has a partial one in "A Rose for the Dead" which, interestingly, is on the next EP:"Velvet darkness, velvet darkness,
Thee we ourselves bestow!"
- The A Rose for the Dead EP has one in its title track:"Give praise for the blood it bled,
Grant a rose for the dead!"
- Musique as a short, spoken one in its title track.
- Storm:"Can you see the storm getting closer now?"
- Forever Is The World:"Only man ends, but forever's the world."
- Velvet Darkness They Fear has a partial one in "A Rose for the Dead" which, interestingly, is on the next EP:
- Title Track: Musique, Storm and Forever Is The World all have one. "A Rose for the Dead" from the EP counts too. Velvet Darkness They Fear has one too, though it's really an intro to "Fair And 'Guiling Copesmate Death".
- Tragic Robot: Raymond's character in the videoclip for "Machine". Liv controls him remotely and has him drive a jeep to her location. She then procedes to deactivate him and steal his car, leaving him stranded in the wilderness.
- Uncommon Time: "Senseless" is written in septuple metre. To complete the Rule of Seven, it's the seventh track on Storm (on the regular edition, at least) and was originally titled "Seven" while in demo phase.
- Unproblematic Prostitution: A rare male version on "Automatic Lover".
- Unusual Euphemism: "Sweet Art Thou" is made of this trope:
- Liv: "Make me sense the wine
Which is drunk by queens,
And let it flow white and full
In tast oer my lips."
Raymond: "Make me sense the wine
Which is drunk by kings,
And let it flow red and full
In taste oer my lips."
- Vampire Dance: "Der Tanz Der Schatten" and its English counterpart, "As The Shadows Dance".
- Vampires Are Sex Gods: Again, on Velvet Darkness They Fear.
- Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Surprisingly averted... for the most part at least. Raymond and Liv's background in language studies helped them do a much better job than most of their colleagues in this department. At least they didn't just sprinkle some gratuitous "thou", "thy" and "-eth" on otherwise perfectly contemporary English.