Dark Tranquillity seems to be a band incapable of producing anything less than a great album. Most bands go through a history of releases comparable to topography, with varying heights of accomplishment. You know, like peaks and valleys. Dark Tranquillity seems to exist on a plateau, and over the course of their last three or four releases have really perfected the style that is manifest on _We Are the Void_.
This means _We Are the Void_ is good... very good. So good, in fact, that anything but an enthusiastic deluge of praise from the metal community is a shameful response. I cannot understand all the tepid reviews for this album. people perhaps are just negative and grumpy. like that guy who prefaces his review with "i've been a fan for a million years and i am hugely disappointed." Don't listen to this guy. I just don't get it. I realize opinions are subjective. But reasons for those opinions are still subject to validation or repudiation. So first of all, I don't understand the complaint that this is stylistically too similar to the last few. Well so what. That's what Dark Tranq does these days (and they do it amazingly well i might add). If you don't like it, wait until they change styles to something different for you. There is nothing bad per se about having a consistent sound over x amounts of releases. As to saying this band is in a creative rut... wow, seriously, if this guy is correct and this is a creative rut, then anything truly inspired would probably kill me because it would just be too good. I wish other bands could be so darn GREAT when they are in a creative rut! The sheer amount of amazing guitar writing along invalidates any claim that this is a creative rut.
Although their history of greatness predates it, since _Damage Done_ this band has been developing a remarkably distinctive and evocative style where brutally heavy and mechanically precise metal meets the stunning melody and swift speed of the early "Gothenburg" style. Yet there are also heavy duty uses of synths and pianos, wielded with such perfect taste and intelligence that no other band can claim such a success in the world of metal. Usually synths in metal sound either cheesy or "unheavy". You know when you go to a concert featuring a metal band with a keyboardist, and the sound quality snuffs out the sound of synths more or less entirely, but you never feel much like anything is missing? That's not what it's like with Dark Tranquillity's last several releases. Songs like "Archangelsk" and the epic finale "Iridium" reach cosmic heights of intensity with their crunching arrangements and synthed conjurations. Other times they are nothing more than the equivalent of ambient lighting, and other times counterpoints are built up specifically around the pianos, or they function as the main melodic device (like one of my favourite moments on the album -- the piano, drums and bass interlude that sets up the drop-dead stunning guitar harmonies of the middle section in "The Grandest Accusation").
And one might wonder just how metal it is with all these pianos and laserbeam synthesizers, well it is super-metal. Very heavy, very melodic, and just extremely masterful songwriting overall. You will be hooked right away, when "Shadow in our Blood" kicks in with its ominous clomping intro, and explodes into pure speed metal, with fast melodic riffs picked out meticulously. "Surface the Infinite" is whiplash inducing metal with blastbeat drumming and furiously melodic guitars. The title track is all-out speedy riffage and crunching arrangements. "In My Absence" glides through ripping metal, haunting piano lines, and creepy lyrics like "I know you're out there searching tonight - I'm right here - Another day and I cannot see through your eyes," and it builds intensity when it revisits the first riff with an altered rhythm, and it groves hard! Every song has killer riffs and guitar parts busting out the seams, and it seems ridiculously that these guys can keep coming up with this stuff and weave it all together to make each song such a dramatic rush. Even "Her Silent Language", which you might expect to be relatively "light(er)", starting as it does cascading pianos, cleanly sung verses, and a rather "light" groovin' guitar riff, has an all-out chugga-chugga metal rock-out in its bridge section.
The vocals are primarily growly-screaming, as it has been since "Haven", but you will hear Stanne's clean voice throughout the album, but not in a cheesy formulaic way like many contemporaries.
If you are a big Dark Tranq fan like me, pick this one up - you won't be disappointed. If you are new to the band, well... whether you check out the old classics like _The Gallery_ or _The Mind's I_, or something newer like _Damage Done_ or _Fiction_ or _We Are the Void_, or something weird like _Projector_, you are in for a treat.
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Clayton Reeder (lordchimp253)
Rogue capitalist in search of all that is interesting, weird, or beautiful. Collected here are my hundreds of reviews from Amazon.com, covering mostly music that is offensive … more
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Swedish melodic death metal pioneers DARK TRANQUILLITY triumphantly return with We Are The Void, a scorching effort that will undoubtedly add an exhilarating new chapter to the genre's storied history. The album encompasses all of the elements on which the band built their reputation: thought-provoking lyrics, shredding guitar work, captivating melodies and sheer brutality. Prepare to enter the void.