Review Summary: Dark Tranquillity release another worthwhile, though flawed, album.4 of 4 thought this review was well written
It's that time again. Being one of the pioneers of melodic death metal and the only one that's still active and still relevant to the genre, everyone always anticipates Dark Tranquillity albums with bated breath; their 2000s albums in particular do people seem to hold as pillars of the melodeath sound. I want you to know going into this review that I'm not the biggest fan of that era of DT. My favorite albums have always been Projector
, and I loved We Are the Void
. In other words, the albums DT fans tend to dislike. I have always been more of a fan of Dark Tranquillity's more mellow, atmospheric or synth driven sound. Over time, the riffy aggressiveness that the typical fan loves about them has grown old and weary. We Are the Void
in particular seems to get a lot of flak for this, something I can't fathom. The melodic, almost gothic vibe that permeates that album I really dig, and I hoped and expected them to continue that with the follow up.
They did, in fact, continue the We Are the Void
is by all means an extension of that sound, though there are occasional excerpts taken from the multiple variations they've dabbled in throughout the years. This is surely atmosphere driven, and I predict the basic DT fanboy will be more annoyed by how restrained this album is in comparison to Character
. Tracks "For Broken Words," "The Science of Noise," "The Silence in Between," and "Apathetic" are akin to the classics Dark Tranquillity is known for; while this may seem promising, all of these except "Apathetic" are still more mood-driven than the typical thrashy DT number. Shamefully, "Apathetic" falls completely flat and I skip it almost every time.
Stanne's clean vocals show up in full force once again in (only) three of the ten songs: "Uniformity," "What Only You Know," and "State of Trust;" predictably, these stand above the others as the album's highlights. There is a bit of a Projector
vibe especially in "Uniformity" (which reminds me of a more aggressive "FreeCard"). However, there is no peaking emotional ballad like "Auctioned" (one of the best songs they've ever done), and neither is there a borderline-progressive semi-epic like "Nether Novas" (still waiting for another one of those). Instead, "What Only You Know" and "State of Trust" again sound like something off We Are the Void
- "Her Silent Language" in particular; neither of them are as compelling as that masterful composition, but they are by all rights great songs. "State of Trust" in particular rises above the others with almost poppy vocals and a gothic tinge.
In the win section is also "None Becoming," which is deep and haunting, hypnotizing the listener with brooding synths. It's similar to "Iridium" before it, "My Negation," and... well, it's the basic DT closer, and those are always great. Also of note is the bonus track "Immemorial;" it lacks the aggression one expects out of these guys, yet it's still in the "heavy" department and full of catchy riffs. They threw a bit of an oddball with this one, in fact, as it sounds more like the Finnish melodeath style than the Gothenburg style they do.
There is no denying Stanne has one of the best growls in the death metal business, and they add a certain hookiness to songs such as "The Silence in Between." That said, I've always loved his clean singing even more; truly, his clean vox alone would rank him among my favorite vocalists. However, though his singing has become more refined with practice, I feel as though it lacks the emotional impact it once did in Projector
. Either way, he's generally among Dark Tranquillity's highest selling points, and that hasn't changed here.
The problem with this album isn't the style. Instead, the songs seem to be missing an elusive something. Several songs feels like leftovers from the We Are the Void
sessions that didn't make the cut, despite the three year gap between these albums and plenty of time to compose new tunes. Of the album's heavier tracks, there is no "One Thought," "Focus Shift," or Arkhangelsk;" meanwhile, the album's balledesque tracks fall short as well. When compared to the highlights of their career, every song on this album underwhelms. This album lacks in moments that impress the way their past albums have, and that means the entire album lacks in staying power as a result. Instead, what we have is DT's most consistent album in years - though there's no huge highs, every song aside from aforementioned "Apathetic" is simply enjoyable.
is a solid album and a testament to Dark Tranquillity's consistency, despite falling short of the glory I expected. Admittedly, I like it more now than I did originally, so it is a bit of a grower and it may grow on me more yet. However, this album is about as restrained as Dark Tranquillity gets; if I, one of the only fans (I could be the only one) who wants more melody, less heavy out of DT finds this record underwhelming, I can't imagine this album flying well with the your everyday, average Damage Done
fanboy. Personally, I'm hoping they'll take one step further into the mellow side and start using cleans in almost every song again, just like in those good ol' Projector