Dark Tranquillity
Damage Done


4.5
superb

Review

by ninjuice USER (49 Reviews)
July 31st, 2008 | 49 replies


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Up near the top of the melodeath legends' catalogue.

Everyone has at least one: that special thing or person that introduced you to something you love. For many, it's the introduction to the love of their life. Others will remember why they started their favorite sport or hobby, or perhaps the most obvious one, where they were born. There are several personal examples: Kill Bill introduced me to the [in my opinion] genius that is Quentin Tarantino, my cousin showed me the iPod, and roommates introduced me to Rock Band. If you haven't figured it out quite yet, Damage Done was the first Dark Tranquillity album I ever bought, and that's not the real reason I find it to be one of their best.

After the return to form of Haven from Projector (the latter of which is like OK Computer in that it added electronics that came out of nowhere), Dark Tranquillity wasn't quite as heavy as they had been earlier in their career. Yes, they had gotten back to the melodic death metal of earlier (albeit with the electronics still there) but nothing on Haven had quite the fury or sheer heaviness of The Gallery or The Mind's I.

Well buckle up and hold on, because Damage Done is an almost nonstop and ferocious return to Grade-A Dark Tranquillity melodic death metal. This is the sound of a band near the top of their form: they are quite good at what they do, and picked up a new trick (or two) along the way. The instrumental performances are more than solid: both guitarists pull out plenty of furious riffs AND nice clean and/or melodic parts (see intro to "The Enemy" or closing instrumental "Ex Nihilo"). There is also a great deal of harmonizing between the two, making the album sound even tighter than usual. The drumming and bass work aren't quite as good but are still more than adequate, providing a solid rhythmic backbone for the guitars and vocals to take center stage.

At this point in the band's career, electronics wizard Martin Brandstrom had been part of the lineup for three years, and he is certainly a bit more in sync with the other members. The keyboards aren't quite prominent as they are on either Character or Fiction - in fact, there's only a handful of places where they're easily heard (see intros to "Hours Passed in Exile" and "Single Part of Two"). Even then, they still work subtly with the harsher instrumentation, helping put the "melodic" in melodic death metal and giving it that "signature DT sound".

Anyone who's read my review of Fiction (or even just read the soundoff I had for this) will know I believe Damage Done is vocalist Mikael Stanne's best performance to date. Let's face it, the production on The Gallery wasn't perfect, and assuming Stanne's voice was (somewhat) similar to this during that phase of his career, it could have sounded better in that aspect.

Here, however, Stanne more than earns a place among the best [harsh] metal vocalists of our time (perhaps all time). His huge, roaring growl sounds like it's coming from someone at least 8 feet tall, and helps drive the already raging music extremely well. On the choruses of songs like "Monochromatic Stains" and "The Treason Wall", his voice demands your attention, especially on the latter as he screams "I don't believe/I won't believe!!!" Although not quite as important, his diction is also excellent in spots, making it all the more easy to sing (or rather, scream) along in places without having to look up the lyrics.

Are there problems with Damage Done" Yes, but they're pretty minor in the long run. The first one is closing instrumental "Ex Nihilo", composed mainly of melodic, clean guitars that are never that interesting. It feels like the song is on autopilot: the song just never feels interesting, beautiful or impressive. Either cutting the track down to, say, 2 minutes or taking it out completely would keep the album from ending on a low point.

The other problem with Damage Done is that it feels a bit lopsided (although certainly not as lopsided as an album like The Joshua Tree). The first five songs are spectacular, and just might be the best 19 minutes of the band's entire discography. However, after "The Treason Wall" (easily one of, if not the best song here), the album never quite manages to match the quality or delight of the previous 5. This is, however, only a small complaint, since "Cathode Ray Sunshine", "Format C: For Cortex" and "White Noise/Black Silence" quickly follow the first half in terms of quality.

In more ways than one, Damage Done could be compared to a 54 minute roller coaster ride. The first 16 seconds begin the first crest of the ride, slowly picking up speed as you approach the top. Then, the first great riff kicks in, and suddenly you're pressed into your seat as the ride shoots down from the top (where you just were). This same feeling of exhilaration and excitement continues for quite awhile, before the best part of the ride ("The Treason Wall") takes you almost by surprise. It then continues on, and while the best is behind you the ride is far from over. Then, it stops, and for the last 40 feet or so you're slowly making your way to the exit where you have to get off. By now the attraction has lost both its momentum and your attention, and you're just looking towards the end so you can get off (and probably get in line for another).
In the end, the album easily makes its way to the top of these legendary Swedes' discography, for several reasons. The production is better than anything done before Projector. It's consistently better than both Haven and Character, and notable for what is (in my opinion of course) Mikael Stanne's best vocal performance to date. Although The Gallery would be the obvious choice for a first purchase, you won't go wrong with getting Damage Done instead, since it's one of this band's very best.

Recommended Tracks:
Final Resistance
Monochromatic Stains
The Treason Wall
Cathode Ray Sunshine



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Comments:Add a Comment 
ninjuice
August 1st 2008


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Crysis' review was fine, but I really like this one and figured I'd have a go at it. Plus he can't have all the fun "whoring" out DT here.

The only part I'm not sure about is whether I should split up that last paragraph.

TheDistantFuture
August 1st 2008


201 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ace review- I agree with much of what you said; this is far and away Stanne's best as he uses more of a roar than a rasp here, but the musicianship is kinda meh and the album to me just doesn't hit as hard as Character or Fiction.

rasputin
August 1st 2008


14968 Comments


Nice work with the review. I do like later DT, but nothing ever tops the Gallery.

SHOOTME
August 1st 2008


2393 Comments


Good review.

ninjuice
August 1st 2008


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

but the musicianship is kinda meh


I obviously disagree.

the album to me just doesn't hit as hard as Character or Fiction.


This is much stronger than Character but not quite as good Fiction, imo.

And thanks for the positive feedback.

rasputin
August 1st 2008


14968 Comments


Character is definitely weaker than this.

SynGates
August 1st 2008


2467 Comments


123

AngelPhoenix
August 1st 2008


2761 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, after to listening to this, character, and fiction at least 6 or 7 times each, it goes

Fiction >>>Damage Done >Character (for me)



Still haven't heard the Gallery but somehow I doubt their sound when they started could impress me more than their sound on Fiction.This Message Edited On 08.01.08

rasputin
August 1st 2008


14968 Comments


Still haven't heard the Gallery but somehow I doubt their sound when they started could impress me more than their sound on Fiction.

Prepare to be undoubted! Get the Gallery asap dude

ninjuice
August 1st 2008


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah dude if The Gallery had better production it would be 10x better than any of their other albums.

rasputin
August 1st 2008


14968 Comments


I don't think there really is any problems with the production. It's not as polished as later releases, but you could hardly call it 'bad' production, and it definitely doesn't take away anything from the music.

ninjuice
August 1st 2008


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Exactly, not bad but it could be better.

rasputin
August 1st 2008


14968 Comments


I don't think it'd sound the same though, and therefore possibly not as good.

ninjuice
August 1st 2008


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I disagree. Of course I think the main thing is, The Gallery rules.

rasputin
August 1st 2008


14968 Comments


Yeah :D

Pebster49
August 1st 2008


3021 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Love this album, my favorite DT album, im in disagree with everyone else on Fiction, I really didn't find that album that good

ninjuice
August 1st 2008


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Judging by your ratings you haven't heard The Gallery. Get on that dude.

It seems Character vs. Fiction is the only major disagreement between fans. Also, usually someone will say one is among their best and the other is just okay.

Willie
Moderator
August 1st 2008


17611 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

After the return to form of Haven from Projector
Return to form?? No, Projector is my favorite album. Haven was the boring crap album. This one is pretty close to my favorite though. I don't see people's obsession with "The Gallery".

fireaboveicebelow
August 1st 2008


6832 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

^^^hahaha well yeah, haven wasn't that great, but it wasn't crap

BallsToTheWall
August 1st 2008


49145 Comments


Huh, Projector was the one I listened to the least, Haven had some really cool tracks like Fabric and The Same, Feast Of Burden, and Wonders At Your Feet. This album slays however, The Treason Wall is def top 5 overall.

Digging: Pohgoh - In Memory of Bab



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