Dark Tranquillity are undoubtedly one of the most influential bands of the Gothenburg music scene. From their creation in 1989 up until their latest release in 2005, Dark Tranquillity has shown no signs of relenting or slowing down. Their music continues to be as fresh as it was the day that they released their first album. They are truly a breath of fresh air in today"s scene of countless generic ripoff bands.
Dark Tranquillity - Character
January 25, 2005 on Century Media Records
Mikael Stanne - Vocals
Niklas Sudin - Guitars
Martin Henriksson - Bass
Anders Jivarp - Drums
Michael Niklasson - Guitars
Martin Brandstrom - Keyboards/Electronics
Character is deemed by many to be one of Dark Tranquillity"s best releases. From the moment the needle drops until the final ending notes, you are bombarded with an array of downtuned melodic guitars, numerous keyboard melodies and atmospheres, brutal drums that know when to be subdued, and the outstanding voice of Mikael Stanne. Stanne is by far one of my favorite male singers. He can sing, he can scream, he can growl...he can do it all. His voice gets progressively better with each passing album, and his vocals on this album are undoubtedly the best he has ever recorded. They are EPIC, more than worthy of almost any metal band of today. He can belt out tremendous lows, and his midrange voice is unsurpassed in melodeath.
Now, the band would be nothing if Stanne was the only good member of the group. However, the band does their job ten times over. The guitarists, Michael and Niklas, trade off harmonies, leads, and rhythms with the utmost importance of keeping quality an issue, and they deliver. Techheads, keep looking...you won"t find any 32nd note arpeggiated runs in this music. The guitars are focused more on emotion than how fast they can go...many of the solos are slower affairs that embrace the listener and refuse to let go. They match the music perfectly...they can lay down an unrelenting barrage of brutality, and lift the listener up with their beautiful melodic hooks.
The electronics, once again, are focused on atmosphere...there are NO keyboard leads in this album, save for the end track in parts. The keys are used solely for atmosphere and harmonies. Those who favor lead keyboards may be disappointed, but DT would not be as good as they are without the keys. The depth that they can create makes the music even more epic than what it already is, and they render soaring melodies interwoven with the heavy guitar parts.
Drums, handled by Anders, are no slouch either. Although he is not the most technical drummer, you"d be suprised at what this guy can lay down. He can play blastbeats with the rest of them, his doublepedal work is flawless, and his drums complement the music perfectly...he can be brutal as hell, yet he can also add atmosphere during the softer songs.
Put the band together, and they may be good. That doesn"t mean squat if they can"t write. Luckily, Character is probably their best written effort to date, featuring eleven cuts of the finest Gothenburg melodic death metal you will ever hear. From the all out brutality of songs like The New Build and Dry Run, to the more keyboard centric likes of The Endless Feed and My Negation, Character brings you it all. There is not a single song on this album that could be considered filler...this is how a band should write. They make every song single worthy (unlike others) and the quality is nearly indistinguishable from song to song.
How does one put out a single if all the tracks are equally good, though? Simple...make the single even better. Lost To Apathy (guess what it is) is undoubtedly Dark Tranquillity"s finest moment. When you hear it fade in, you know you"re in for a trip. From the brilliant verses to the epic singalong choruses (IF you can sing along, mind you) to the famous one handed hammeron - pull off method that they perfected, this is worth a listen. Period.
Every member shines in one way or another
Filler = nonexistant here
Will satisfy listeners of heavy and...uh...less heavy music alike
Some songs tend to sound the same in places.
The New Build:
For those of you who haven"t heard Dark Tranquillity yet, from the moment this song blasts in (it"s the first on the album) the listener is bombarded with guitars, synths, and almost death metal styled drumming. Once Stanne comes in, the listener throws up his hands and proclaims him/herself unworthy to listen to this music. Do I really need to say more than that? For those of you who HAVE listened to the band, this track seems to channel The Gallery - era DT.
The Endless Feed:
This is one of the album"s softer tracks, showcasing Martin"s brilliant ability to create an epic atmosphere with the keys. Although Stanne is still, as the uneducated music listeners would call him, "satanic", his voice is subdued in many more parts. He can create atmosphere with his voice alone, which is an almost impossible feat in and of itself. Yet, the band still manages to pull it off, and leaves the listener with an entirely enjoyable piece of music.
Lost To Apathy:
If you don"t know why you should listen to this, kick yourself for not taking the necessary time to learn how to read.
Somewhere in the middle between brutal and atmospheric, this song emphasizes the "melodic" of melodic death metal. As usual, Stanne"s voice is flawless...the chorus is one of the best Dark Tranquillity has done. It"s odd how screamers can convey emotion...there"s no key signature for screaming; no minor keys, no major keys. Somehow, Stanne manages to do this, which is truly the sign of a great singer.
Faster than the last few tracks, this one has a driving feel to it. The guitars have a few awesome dual guitar harmony parts in, and the keys have their moments. However, the spotlight on this song goes entirely to Stanne. You can tell he puts 500% into this song...his voice is just brilliant. A must listen.
The longest song on the album, this is almost a ballad style song...if ballads included evil riffs and harsh vocals. It features some quite good clean guitar harmonies, lots of keys (the keys actually play a pretty complex part as opposed to just chords), a great chorus, and (of course) Stanne"s brilliant vocalwork.
Actually, there are no weak songs on this album...these are just a few of my favorites. These are the ones that REALLY stuck out to me as being special.
As was said before, this may be Dark Tranquillity"s best effort yet. All their years of songwriting, all the albums they released, all the shows they played...it finally paid off. This album is a conglomeration of absolute brilliance. Any fan of melodeath or Dark Tranquillity, no matter how big or small, owes themselves a debt to go and pick up this album. It"s one of the best in a long time.
Final Rating: 10/10
This is my first review in a non track by track style...pointers are appreciated.