Lacrimosa is a duo led by German-born Tilo Wolff, the main composer, and finnish Anne Nurmi, currently based in Switzerland. Lacrimosa's musical genre originally was Darkwave or rather downright gothic, with occasional metal elements. Since Inferno, their style has shifted much more towards gothic metal. Their musical style mixes heavy metal and gothic rock sounds along with violin, trumpet and more classical instruments, although their musical development throughout the years has also led to changes in instrumentation.Lacrimosa's lyrics are written almost exclusively in German, although since the 1995 album Inferno every album has featured one or two songs in English, generally written by Anne Nurmi. Finnish has also appeared in the spoken intro to two songs (Schakal on Inferno and The Turning Point on Elodia) and on a bonus track in a limited edition release of Fassade. Their lyrics are mainly about loneliness, sadness, darkness, despair and love.
Lacrimosa's first album, Angst, is a very gloomy piece of slow, rather minimal music, dominated by keyboards and a depressed, sometimes frantic and insane, voice. In this early period, the themes explored through lyrics and music are of a very bleak nature, such as fear, helplessness, loneliness, the non-existence, unattainability or illusionary nature of love, and death. The same thematic preoccupations can be found on the next three albums, Einsamkeit, Satura and Inferno, but now and then a more positive note begins to sound in the dismal tapestry. Musically, this period is characterised by the introduction of electric guitars and basses, with more and more rock elements being added to the slow, keyboard-based music of the earliest album.
With Stille, Lacrimosa releases an album that might easily be classified as 'metal', a style which they'll keep using for their own purposes from then on. Heavy guitars supplemented by more bombastic arrangements for classical instruments have come to dominate the music, showing a close affinity to the symphonic metal of bands like Therion. Thematically, the emphasis on the darker side of human emotions is lowered if not abandoned, with Stille featuring several uplifting songs. "Stolzes Herz" ("Proud heart") and "Die Strasse der Zeit" ("The Lane of Time") especially sing the praise of individual and cultural strength respectively. "Die Strasse der Zeit" describes a journey backwards through a history ravaged by war, greed and stupidity, until the protagonist finds solace in the youthful hope and strength of ancient Greek culture - an image which reminds one more of Nietzsche than of the depressed songs on Angst.
The next album, Elodia, reduces the role of metal-style guitars and increases that of symphonic, classical arrangements, this time recorded in part by the London Symphony Orchestra. Presented as a play in three parts, Elodia revolves around the most popular theme in musical history, love. The gothic element is still present, though, and the themes of loss and death feature prominently in the latter half of the 'play', which nevertheless ends with an affirmation of hope.
The musical style of Elodia is still evident on the 2001 album Fassade, which features a wide variety of musical visions, from the harsh metal sound of "Liebesspiel" ("Love Game") to gently flowing keyboards of "Senses", to the symphonic interplay between guitars and orchestra on the title song "Fassade". This latter composition, a piece in three movements which are arranged on the album as tracks 1, 5 and 8, also constitutes a new thematic excursion of Lacrimosa as they move from the personal emotions they normally explore to a critique of modern society. It ends, however, with the affirmation of individuality and the protagonist's retreat from society.
Echos bears witness to a further musical development, as guitars and other rock elements take centre stage less and less often, whereas classical instruments feature more prominently. The orchestral arrangements move away from the standard symphonic arrangements which are often found in contemporary metal music, as is clearly shown by the album's first track, the long orchestral "Kyrie - Overture". The music on Echos also shows an influence from electronic and industrial music, as is especially obvious in the song "Ein Hauch von Menschlichkeit" ("A Touch of Humanity"). Overall, this album is more personal, more 'classical' and more quiet than those that came before it. Thematically, there is less change as Lacrimosa continues to explore love and its associated emotions with gothic twists.
Lacrimosa's ninth album, Lichtgestalt, largely retains the classical orientation of Echos, but rock elements begin to resurface. In particular the first track, Sapphire, begins as a slow, mostly classical song but around halfway through moves into a far more metal-sounding section; the pace of the song increases, a heavy guitar backing takes over and Wolff switches from singing into a rasping, high-pitched death grunt for a few minutes. The segment is a significant change of direction for Lacrimosa; this vocal style had not been seen in Lacrimosa songs since Copycat on the 1995 album Inferno, recorded ten years before. The remaining songs display a similar mix of styles to previous albums, with some upbeat songs, a song written and sung in English mainly by Anne Nurmi (though Wolff duets with her on this track, again for the first time since Inferno) and some slower-paced, more depressive pieces.
In 2006, is released a new EP, "Lichtgestalten", that brings a new electronic version of the single "Lichtgestalt", produced by Tilo in the scope of his solo project, "Snakeskin". One of the 6 songs in this EP, 'Hohelied der Liebe' (Song of Songs Of Love), has as its lyric a text copied from the Bible.
In 2007, it's released a new Live DVD "Musikkurzfilme", which contains recordings of the Lacrimosa's tour by Asia, South America and Europe. In this album we also find the making of the videos "Stotzes Herz", "Lichtgestalt", and many others. In this album we can also find a new song called "Intermission".
The main musical development of Lacrimosa might be summarised as follows: starting from the minimal, slow, keyboard driven style of Angst, guitars and other metal influences came to play a more and more prominent role, until they reached a peak on Stille. From then on, the emphasis has shifted from guitars and metal to symphonic and classical writing, which is clearly shown in Fassade. Finally, Echos takes a turn towards the personal and away from the symphonic and heavy aspects of the previous albums, achieving a quite unique mixture of musical elements which is hard to classify. The pace of Lacrimosa's development is slow enough that each album is recognisably linked to its predecessor and successor, yet fast enough that for instance Angst, Stille and Lichtgestalt might well have been written by completely different bands.
Tilo Wolff - vocal, instruments
Anne Nurmi - vocal, keyboard
Part time members:
Sasha Gerbig - gitar
Jay P. - guitar
Yenz Leonhardt - basss
Mr. AC - drumms
01. Angst (1991)
02. Einsamkeit (1992)
03. Alles Lüge (1993)
04. Satura (1993)
05. Schakal (1994)
06. Inferno (1995)
07. Stolzes Herz (1996)
08. Stille (1997)
09. Live (1998)
10. Allen Zu Zweit (1999)
11. Elodia (1999)
12. Der Morgen Danach (2001)
13. Fassade (2001)
14. Durch Nacht Und Flut (2002)
15. Echos (2003)
16. Lichtgestalt (2005)
17. Lichtgestalten (2006)
18. Lichtjahre (2007)