Review Summary: When all is said and done, it is likely that the vast majority of We Are The Void will slip away unnoticed for many years to come.
It seems to me that Dark Tranquillity have been resting in the cradle of their sound for quite a while now. Since 2000’s Haven
, the style of these six gentlemen from Gothenburg has remained more or less unchanged, for better or worse. Their previous effort, 2007’s Fiction
showed that the band was definitely as strong as ever, releasing an album which was rock-solid and highly memorable. In an effort to continue on the path which they have been walking for a decade now, Dark Tranquillity have produced their ninth full-length album We Are The Void
. It’s an album which shifts direction ever-so slightly, cranking up the keys of Martin Brandstrom and turning the atmosphere of the album in a darker direction while pushing aside the memorable guitar leads and harmonies in favor of a strong chord presence to keep rhythm. However, the overall package comes off as both uninspired and lackadaisical, and shows noticeable cracks in Dark Tranquillity’s established, concrete sound.
If you take Fiction
, cut out the awesome guitar riffs, increase the keyboard presence tenfold, and then make it more depressed-sounding, you will have exactly what We Are The Void
delivers. While the strong gothic presence in such tracks as the daring and out-of-character “Iridium” hits a home run in terms of progression on Dark Tranquillity’s sound, much of the remainder is comprised of what sounds like Fiction
b-side material played with a load of minor chords. While Stanne’s vocals remain as strong as ever, retaining that viciousness and bite which was present on Fiction
, his clean voice also appears in fine form, showing a more refined tone which undercuts the screams on such tracks as “The Grandest Accusation” or provide a driving force on “Her Silent Language”. Jivarp’s performance behind the kit also remains unchanged, giving a solid but unremarkable base on which the rest of the instruments build.
Behind this all-too familiar approach, though, linger the flaws which have been nipping at Dark Tranquillity’s back for quite some time now, but have been kept at bay by the sheer songwriting ability of the band. Now, however, they begin to bleed through and show themselves. The watered-down riffing of Sundin and Henriksson now becomes completely apparent considering the utter absence of memorable riffs and leads, masked only by the numerous, short solos which litter the album’s runtime. Instead, the melody is almost all placed on Brandstrom and his synth, a move which in the end makes We Are The Void
the most forgettable Dark Tranquillity album since Projector
. Before long, you’ll wonder exactly why two guitars were needed on the album, since much of the time both are taking on the role of rhythm while the lead is eerily absent. Thankfully enough, however, the closing half of the album brings a small flicker of hope as songs like “I Am The Void”, “Iridium”, “The Grandest Accusation”, and “Surface The Infinite” bring life back into the album, saving it from the wallows of “Shadow In Our Blood”, “The Fatalist” and “Dream Oblivion”.
It’s quite unlike Dark Tranquillity to allow so much filler slip through, but since that’s exactly what happened on We Are The Void
, one can’t help but wonder whether the guys of Dark Tranquillity are beginning to lose their touch. Sure, “Iridium” is one of the best tracks the band has done in the past few years, but that can’t make up for the inexcusably uninspired guitar performance and the obnoxious, overbearing keyboards all playing re-hashed ideas for just about half of the album. The solos are all very good but noticeably out-of-place in the band’s sound, and the darker atmosphere is very intriguing and well-executed, but when all is said and done it is likely that the vast majority of We Are The Void
will slip away unnoticed for many years to come.