At a time when female soprano singing combined with lots of epic influences is thriving, it seems almost impossible to avoid these influences, without ending up as a lemming. Almost... Tristania proves that it can be done differently. Gothic Metal without too much heart-ache and romance, dripping with corniness. No, with Ashes the Norwegians return to the black heart of their debut album „Widow’s Weed“. Front woman Vibeke Stene and her two male counterparts don’t sound kitschy for a second, but rather seriously melancholic. Less bombastic than on „World of Glass“, and therefore more forceful and purposeful. While the guitars seeth darkly, a velvet melancholy is brewn. Yes, Miss Stene knows exactly how to use her voice to make shivers run down the listener’s spine: brutal romance on a narrow road through dark nothingness. Thumbs up!