Review Summary: These extras from We Are The Void prove to distance themselves more from Dark Tranquillity's previous LP than the title may suggest
Even two years after its release, We Are The Void
is still a puzzling album. It was keyboard-heavy, riff-devoid, and bafflingly boring – all things that aren’t what Dark Tranquillity are known for. Sure, they have used keyboards in a notable capacity for over a decade now, but never before have they overshadowed the very essence of what makes the band so venerable and respected. The stinging is still rather poignant even after all this time, so it is nice to hear what Zero Distance
has to offer. An EP of what are essentially b-sides from the We Are The Void
sessions, Zero Distance
is a release that doesn’t exactly have the highest expectations – if these are tracks that didn’t
make the cut on their last LP, which was arguably their weakest release, what hope do they have of being any good? Thankfully – and perhaps finally – we have a set of songs which are all solid in their own right; even a few gems are thrown in the mix that shine more radiantly than nearly anything from We Are The Void
Not only does Zero Distance
attempt to invert the regressions of We Are The Void
, it actually progresses in areas that are quite surprising. Aside from the increase in guitar riffing that has been somehow lost over the past two years, there are also shreds of emotion that have really been absent from Dark Tranquillity’s music for years now. “Star of Nothingness” is an instrumental that hearkens back to “The Mind’s Eye” from their third LP, with dissonant guitar melodies wrapping around each other to form a tune that is quite unlike anything the band has done in terms of both mood and pace. Couple that with the heavy-hitter “Out Of Gravity”, which could top any song on We Are The Void
besides “Iridium” with amazing ease, and you have not only the return of what Dark Tranquillity do best, but a potential glimpse at what the future may hold. Stanne’s raspy screams are no longer the only thing holding up the music, instead they are joined by guitars, drums, and bass which have actually shown up ready to play. The keyboards still are prominent, but no longer ravage every other instrument before them.
The guitar solo of “To Where Fires Cannot Feed” accents the heavy riffing and simple but well-placed melodies conjured throughout the song’s verses and choruses, while the stunning display unleashed on the bridge and solo of “Out Of Gravity” are the best few minutes I’ve heard out of this band since 2007. The masterful flow and out-of-character technicality are exactly what Dark Tranquillity needed to get things back on track. It is true that “Zero Distance” may take a bit too much out of the book of We Are The Void
, but the remaining tracks sound like they were extensions to Fiction
, which is nothing worth complaining about. Dark Tranquillity are one of those bands that age well, and I think it is safe to assume that We Are The Void
was only a hiccup that will be remedied given time. With new material in the works, these legends of melodic death metal have to show that they are able to take one on the chin and keep going strong. If Zero Distance
is anything to go by, fans should sleep easy at night knowing that Dark Tranquillity aren’t going anywhere.