In medieval castles and moonlit forests lurk the sinister orchestrations of Love is Colder than Death, a pioneering cloud of despair originating from the antediluvian eras of classical stratospheres. Tempest is the group’s first studio album in over a decade, having been prevalent throughout the 90s before dropping off around the turn of the century. Refined with the clarity of modern production, Tempest sees Love is Colder than Death sticking with their arcane roots of mysticism.
The Dead Can Dance comparisons are obvious—contrasts of English male and foreign female vocals, world instruments with touches of the Middle East, and dark, esoteric lyricism. But the most notable facet of Tempest is the touch of Celtic and Irish nods that have found their ways into the sound of Maik Hartung and co. “Sinfonia of the Moon” is a desert storm on an Egyptian night, and “See the Ways” almost recalls the ethereal whimsicalness of Loreena Mckennit with a vocal touch of Brendan Perry. The worldly bits are found in the swells of orchestral overtures that the album carries, such as in “Sundance” and “___.” Tempest also marks a break away from the poetic malevolence that marked past albums, bringing these dungeon dwellers from out of the darkness and into the winks of sunlight falling from between high tree branches. In other words, Love is Colder than Death has brought good spirits into their musical compass, forsaking a nonstop atmosphere of cloaked figures creeping in the shadows in a forest for vast, serene soundscapes. Even “Silent is the House” and “La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” both odes to sorrow, are kept down to Earth with crystalline delicacies of acoustic guitar and sweeping waves of strings.
Flutes, violins, horns, and bongos are all motifs throughout Tempest, instruments that have been revolving around the Love is Colder than Death universe but with not as much dominance as exemplified here. The frontier that is forged with this progression is the advancement of the band to a level that transcends the genres of darkwave and neoclassical music. There is even a vague hint of folk on “World in Motion,” immersed in the marching waltz of an acoustic guitar and the militantly melodic voice of Ralf, and it is replete in triumph and glory.
Ten years is an excruciating wait for a band of such mastery to craft another record, but the results excel even wildest expectations. Tempest breaks all new ground for the band while still staying routed in their mysterious dominions. No directions to pointless nostalgia or desperation for the good ole days are to be found anywhere on Tempest. Love is Colder than Death have their bleak and icy hearts set firmly on the future.