Review Summary: The Damage has been Done, and the result is staggering.
Dark Tranquillity is essentially, as opposite as you can get within the melodic death metal genre to In Flames. DT is way less popular, and they write way more emotional music. Actually, In Flames is hardly the same band anymore and they started to drift away from the original gothenburg sound that made them so good in the first place. Not Dark Tranquillity though, they stayed true to what they started off doing, and continued to build album upon album of fantastic melodeath over the years. In fact, DT has now reached the point where they could never make another good album, and I'd still consider them the greatest melodic death metal band of all-time...
At any rate, here we are at album number six: Damage Done. Before 2002, Dark Tranquillity had done some minor experimenting with clean vocals and much more melodic keyboards, as well as electronic pads. It was relatively short-lived however, because with 2002's Damage Done, they had decided to utilize a tantalizing element of surprise to bestow upon their fans. Their goal was to give that old 'Gallery-esque' sound that was much more heavy with dual lead guitars, and was much less concered with cleans. The result I would have to say was fantastic... the album I am reviewing is seriously one of the most lauded albums in DT's entire catalog, and with good reason. It's an exceptionally well put-together piece of melodeath, where there's at least something that stands out about every single track, leaving very little to be desired after the last few piano keys are pushed . . .
I am a fan of the way this record is structured. It kicks off with a heavy, attention-grabbing song that isn't too catchy, but it sort of 'gets the job done' in a sense. Final Resistance
is it's name and it's actually one of the most played DT songs live, which is quite interesting.
However, we don't really see what makes the album so awesome until the second track: Hours Passed in Exile
. Excuse my personal opinions, but this is my favourite of the album. The song forms a compelling oxymoron, with the hyper-sonic melody fitting so perfectly with Mikael's raw and throaty vocals. It's very odd when you think about it, but when you hear it it's absolute bliss.
So how do you keep the album going along steadily" You compose a song like Monochromatic Stains
, which is riddled with ultra-catchy guitar riffs and cool electronic sounds that really form great atmosphere. A fan favourite to be sure, I can't recommend enough listening to this song by itself if you aren't one who likes listening to full albums in sucession. Another thing this song accomplishes is neat lyrical content. It seems all the songs on this album have great, thoughtful lyrics that compliment the melodic music nicely.
A Single Part of Two
is the fourth track on the album and it continues the same, but excellent trend on the album by executing those pianos and keyboards that feel so damn good. There isn't much else to this song aside from a sweet solo, but if you've liked what you've heard so far, you're bound to enjoy the song!
At this point, if you haven't grasped on to any of the previous songs, your last hope is: The Treason Wall
. It's mostly a feel-good song with superb riffing and singing as always. But what's more stunning is this song has truly expert songwriting and it offers a really emotional acoustic section about two-thirds through the song. I have to say it's a big stand-out on the album.
Now remember when I said every song has something unique about it" Well there may be ONE exception to that statement, and that is Format C: For Cortex
. As much as I want to like this song along with the others, I just don't find much very interesting about it, I mean.. other than the fact that it's Dark Tranquillity. There is nothing bad about it, it's just a little too similar to everything else on this fantastic record.
This is a 12-song record, and I'd say the climax is definitely these next two songs. The title-track comes in with an absolutely brutal attitude. I always found the cover art to highly represent this song as it's kind of got this whole 'bloodshed' thing going on. BUT, this is not a mindless song. It's still got wonderful guitar leads and is an epic composition.
Hot on the heels of Damage Done
is Cathode Ray Sunshine
: a song of beautiful proportions. It definitely strikes the perfect balance between being pretty and heavy with relative ease, making it flow so naturally. I am honestly so impressed with what Dark Tranquillity has done with this album and even if it ended right here, I'd be fine with that.
But wait... there's more! The Enemy
is simply a continuation of the previous track and has the same great elements about it. It isn't a highlight for this album, but it reinforces Damage Done's backend pretty decently enough, but moving along...
So I've never exactly understood what I, Deception
is. It's labelled as a bonus track but apparently you'll always have it or The Poison Well
(Personally I have never heard it) depending on your copy. I don't really get it.. but I do get that it's a stellar song, and that I'm glad it was included.
And the final effort to make a big impression on the listener is indeed the penultimate track White Noise/Black Silence
. Long answer made short: It. Is. Brilliant. Combining absolutely everything that made this album great in one single recording, this song is not a master at any one aspect, but manages to pull off a thousand different things at once, making for perhaps the most well-rounded song on the album, which is extremely suitable considering it's the last normal song.
The long-but-outstanding journey that has been Damage Done thus far comes to a melancholic end with Ex Nihlo
. I've seen mixed reactions based on it, since there isn't actually much emotion or thought put into it. In fact, it's so simple that I personally really, really enjoy it. It's just soft noise that brings this celebral Dark Tranquillity record to it's end.
Five Best Tracks:
- Hours Passed in Exile
- Damage Done
- Monochromatic Stains
- Cathode Ray Sunshine
- White Noise/Black Silence
The Swedish Melodic Death Metal style of music was characterized and realized within Dark Tranquillity's five member's minds with The Gallery in 1995. Seven years later, after being through quite a bit, they came back and gave us something that we could all latch onto and understand. The pure brilliance of this album can be felt all the way through, and while no one track is badly composed or un-listenable, I give this album a 4.
It didn't really push the genre forward, it just showed us that for 50 minutes, we could sit back and be consumed by the wonderful creativity Dark Tranquillity provided for us.