The Gallery is just one of those albums that is totally perfect. From the first note to the last it holds you both emotionally and physically, by the end of the album you feel so drained but incredibly satisfied. You might be thinking, who are Dark Tranquillity? Well along with In Flames, Dark Tranquillity are the fathers of gothenburg metal, but let me tell you, Dark Tranquillity are the ones that deserve the fame.
The album kicks off with a highly technical lead that grabs your attention and from the moment you hear Mikael Stanne scream you know that his voice is something special. The musicianship is of a great standard, although for the most part they don't display their technical ability as openly as some prog musicians. The band are border-line progressive but still write excellent songs that are structured perfectly with their beautiful, melancholic melodies in exactly the right place. They are also not afraid to turn off the distortion, there are several clean breaks scattered throughout the opener, 'Punish My Heaven', which add to the hugely effective atmosphere created. Keyboards are used to great effect to sprinkle more melody above the fast paced guitar, drums and screaming vocals. And that's just the first song.
That's not all they are capable of doing though. For example, there is the entirely acoustic introduction in the from of "Mines is the Grandeur..." remeniscent of In Flames, the melodic clean guitars and beautiful melancholic voice in "Lethe" or the battle between the astounding female vocals against Mikael's evil growling in "The Gallery". They can do it all, and they can do it all better than the vast majority of bands out there today. I could go on and on about this album, but I'm just going to pick out some of mmy favourite songs and focus on them specifically:
The title track of the album, "The Gallery", starts out with a slow, clean melody before a crushingly heavy but astoundingly melodic riff. The agressive drumming is executed perfectly and the transitions between the increidble heavy riffs and slow, clean melodies add to the song so much. There is a slow section where the guitar holds the melody before some beautiful female vocals are used above this, creating such a melancholic atmosphere that words can't describe it. Mikael's vocals also add a great deal of power and atmosphere, and are the perfect contrast to the melancholic beauty of the female vocals. The song is incredibly well written with every melody and transition bringing the song to a new level.
The amazing power ballad of the ballad comes by the name of "Lethe". This is the textbook example of how to write a melancholic ballad. The guitar introduction is perfect in creating an atmosphere before the heaviness kicks in and Mikael's vocals come in full of despair and anguish. The melodies are genious and compliment Mikael's desperate vocals perfectly. Mikael sings in compound time over some chord hits to create a rushed effect which shows the true genious of the band's songwriting in the effects that they create. The emotion conveyed through this song is just astounding and shows what a great band Dark Tranquillity really are.
The last two songs can be counted as one. "Mines is the Grandeur..." is the beautiful acoustic introduction, the timpanis used add to the atmosphere and bring the piece to an end an introduces the final song, "...of Melancholy Burning". This is what we have come to expect of Dark Tranquillity; heavy, pounding guitar riffs, brilliantly executed drumming, beautiful melodies and emotionful vocals courtesy of Mikael Stanne. Similarly to "The Gallery", female vocals are used again here to great effect in building the haunting atmosphere and bringing a huge, climax. Again, the contrasts between the female vocals and Mikael are excellent, especially when the female vocals holds a high note whilst Mikael screams in unison with her. Andres showcases his excellent drumming ability throughout this song and in certain places he actually carries the song rather than just providing a rhythm. There is another transition near the end when the song speeds up and Mikael's vocals are again, perfect. Following this is a harmonous guitar lead, then the album is ended with a quick outro on acoustic guitar.
I'm aware that I probably used words like 'perfect' and such far to often throughout this review, but I quite seriously struggled to find words to describe this album, this is just one of those albums that are absolute masterpieces. I strongly urge you to buy this album straight away if you are intrested in any kind of metal at all.