Review Summary: With two new guitarists, Dark Tranquillity seamlessly dive into an album of melancholic, atmospheric, metal that can only loosely be associated with standard melodic death metal.Projector
is easily my favorite Dark Tranquillity album. Projector
was the album that found the band ditching the remains of their melodic death metal sound for a style that was all their own. It still had Mikael Stanne’s raspy death growl and plenty of guitar-driven melodies, but it also throttled the aggression and tempos while introducing keyboards, electronics, and clean singing – some fans hated it, but I loved it. I say this so you know where I’m coming from while discussing Moment
. I don’t long for a return to their earlier sound. I don’t care that they haven’t really done a consistently aggressive album since Character
. I love when they wallow in melancholy and plodding tempos. I think Mikael’s clean singing brings an emotional element to Dark Tranquility’s music that is missing when he simply growls through the majority of an album. The more you agree with those statements, the more you’ll probably find yourself loving Moment
opens with the first pre-release track, “Phantom Days”. Of all the songs on the album, “Phantom Days” is easily the most conventional – it is essentially the quintessential modern Dark Tranquillity song. It features the excellent dichotomy between guitar and keyboard melodies, Mikael Stanne’s raspy death growl, and energetic tempos during the verses juxtaposed with slower sections for the choruses – and despite the lack of any clean singing, the chorus is catchy as hell. The following two tracks follow a similar pattern, with “Transient” standing out the most due to its excellent guitar/keyboard melody during the choruses. The ringing harmonization between the three instruments basically makes that song for me, and was one of my early favorites. It definitely surprised me that the band chose “Phantom Days” and “Identical to None” for the first two pre-release songs when “Transient” was crammed between them and so much better. Either way, none of those songs really represent what Moment
actually sounds like, so I guess it doesn’t matter.
It isn’t until the fourth track, “The Dark Unbroken”, that Moment
really shows what it is all about. This is the point where the band drops into a mid-tempo groove; crafting melancholic atmospheres courtesy of Martin Brandstrom’s keyboards and electronics, and Mikael Stanne’s introspective lyrics delivered through both death growls and emotive cleans singing. Of course, the guitars are still there – courtesy of new guys Christopher Amott (ex-Arch Enemy) and Johan Reinholdz – but it seems like they’re more the backdrop than the main focus when it comes to melodies. Speaking of the new guys, if I hadn’t read that Moment
featured two new guitarists, I would have never guessed. The seamlessness of their inclusion could be viewed as both a positive and a negative. It’s clearly a positive for fans that aren’t looking for any changes to Dark Tranquillity’s sound, but it’s also a negative that two powerhouses weren’t allowed any artistic freedom at all; having their individual personalities relegated to solos that are occasionally more shreddy than modern Dark Tranquillty is known for.
Maybe, though, there just wasn’t room on Moment
for Christopher Amott’s aggressive style or Johan Reinholdz’s progressive tendencies when the majority of the album is so subdued and melancholic. With the exception of some energetic guitar solos like the one found on “The Dark Unbroken” or some darker riffs such as the one that dominates “Ego Deception”, Moment
is a vehicle for Mikael Stanne’s vocals and Martin Brandstrom’s expertly crafted melodies and atmospheres – and that’s just fine with me. It’s that affection for darker, melancholic, atmospheres that helps make Moment
feel like a modern version of Projector
– now with more riffs, keyboards, and electronics.
Although it seems like the addition of Christopher Amott and Johan Reinhodz could have been the perfect time for the second coming of The Gallery
, unsurprisingly, it was not to be. Instead Moment
is more like the second coming of Projector
pushed through the modern sound of Construct
. There is definitely a feeling of continuity between Moment
and the previous two releases, but the riffier nature of the songs coupled with the darker, more morose, atmospheres and melodies help it to stand on its own and not just feel like more of the same. If you’ve been a fan of Dark Tranquillity’s sound for more than an album or two throughout the last twenty years, there’s going to be plenty here to keep you going. Moment
feels like Dark Tranquillity finally focusing on the melancholic sound they’ve dabbled in, hinted at, but never felt comfortable diving entirely into – at least not since Projector