Last week I began to look at some of the best album trilogies in the world of rock. My three examples last week were Marilyn Manson’s infamous triptych, David Bowie’s experimental and kraut rock-tinged Berlin trilogy and finally a classic prog inspired trio of albums: one from Steven Wilson’s solo act, one from Mikael Akerfeldt’s Opeth and a combined effort from their avant garde side project, Storm Corrosion. This week I have chosen three more trilogies to explore, each with their own unique intricacies.
Although some will argue that The Cure’s trilogy should consist of Seventeen Seconds, Faith and Pornography, which are linked together by the gothic nature of Robert Smith’s music, Smith himself sees their album trilogy being made up of Pornography, Disintegration and Bloodflowers instead. Although the individual parts are separated by three albums and then two albums respectively, they share a link in musical styling that Smith considers to be the defining characteristic of what The Cure stands for.
Pornography is without doubt The Cure’s darkest album, fueled by Smith’s depression and heavy drug use, the record uncovers eerie thoughts expressed through moody textures. However, the album’s successors featured a much lighter style of music, best characterised under the new wave umbrella. Despite this, seven years later The Cure released Disintegrate, which was a continuation of Pornography‘s gothic feel, but this time around the music had drone-tendencies and featured heavy synth usage. It would then be an eleven year gap before The Cure returned once again to their trademark sombre tone. Bloodflowers was an unexpected, yet much needed release after its predecessor Wild Mood Swings failed to make an impact with its unfocused sound. Together the three albums showcase the best moments of The Cure’s career and in 2002 the trilogy was performed live in Berlin and documented with a DVD release.
Although intended as a tetralogy, Mastodon’s classical element inspired series is probably better considered as a trilogy. The tetralogy consists of Remission (Fire), Leviathan (Water), Blood Mountain (Earth) and Crack the Skye (Air/Aether), however the first record is only loosely connected to the element of fire and has no narrative connecting the individual tracks. The other three, however, tell a detailed tale based around the element in question, with Leviathan retelling Moby Dick, Blood Mountain describing a hellish climb of a monster-infested mountain and Crack the Skye mixing astral travel and divination with Russian history in a multi-layered, mind-bending narrative.
Musically the three albums are connected too. Remission is purely sludge metal, but the other three show an evolution of this sound into a fully-fledged progressive metal style by the time that Crack the Skye was released. This evolution in musicianship and songwriting technique helps to link the albums together beyond the element theme and together the records characterise the true nature of progressive music – a desire to evolve and expand musical horizons, whilst challenging your own musical abilities.
Angels & Airwaves
The final band on this list, Angels & Airwaves, released a trilogy that covers different mediums. After the online release of their third album Love, band leader Tom DeLonge announced a second part to the album, which was released the following year, and an accompanying film which would tell the story of the concept woven into the two part album. Although the music failed to live up to the brilliant debut We Don’t Need To Whisper and its ambitious follow-up I-Empire, the grand vision for the project, inspired by the strong concept, was a commendable idea and a refreshing stance to take in the modern age of music, where commercialism is often favoured over creativity.
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