DARK TRANQUILLITY

"Construct" (Century Media; 2013)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Dark Tranquillity has recorded and released great music on a yearly basis for the past twenty years. 2013 is no exception. The new release is "Construct," and it is like visiting an old, riotous friend.

"Construct" is not only good, it is simply one of the best releases I have listened to this year. And that's saying a lot -- there have been a bunch of great CDs released in 2013. Listening to this CD, you can clearly see why Dark Tranquillity is not only a very talented band, but one of the most influential metal acts of the last 20 years.

One of the highlights of "Construct" is the track "Apathetic," which features razor guitar that will cut into your metal mind. The other tracks continue the trend so that, by the time the CD is finished, you know you've been listening to a killer CD.

It was our East Coast Editor, Christopher J Kelter, who introduced me and a few others to Dark Tranquillity and it has been magical experience that has yet to play itself out. "Construct" is another outstanding recording from a truly outstanding band.

For more information visit http://www.darktranquillity.com

"Zero Distance" (Century Media; 2012)

Reviewed by Snidermann

"Zero Distance," the five song EP, was  recorded at the same time as 2010's "We Are The Void." The band wanted to release the EP to the fans in the US who missed out on being able to pick up the limited tour edition of "We Are The Void."

The moment I downloaded this EP, I had to run through it three times in a row and I just can’t believe what I heard. The music was typical DT: dark, twisted and somewhat sinister, and the songs are a broken, almost disjointed, journey into the macabre -- just what I would have expected from this band. Still, as much as I like this recording, I can’t give an EP a full four guitarsaw rating, but I can do it three.

Kick ass music, plain and simple.

For more information visit http://www.darktranquillity.com

"We are the Void" (Century Media; 2010)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Since the early 90s, Dark Tranquillity has graced music fans with their particular brand of strange, dark and more than slightly twisted version of heavy metal. Lucky for me, Rough Edge East Coast Editor Christopher J. Kelter introduced me to the band and I have not looked back since.

The band's 2010 release is called "We Are The Void." Once again, Dark Tranquillity consistently delivers a darkly prolific musical experience. In my opinion, Dark Tranquillity wrote the book on fashionably morbid, mysterious, warped music ... and all those things are positive in my book and not negative at all.

Year after year, CD after CD, Dark Tranquillity stands alone as the unheralded masters of macabre music and they just get better the more you listen to them. Another spin? Don’t mind if I do.

For more information, and for a YouTube video about the making of "We are the Void," check out http://www.darktranquillity.com.

"Fiction" (Century Media; 2007)

Reviewed by Snidermann

My eyes have opened up to a new force in heavy music and that force is Dark Tranquillity. 

Actually, East Coast Editor Christopher J. Kelter introduced me to this band awhile ago and, ever since then, I have been an avid fan. "Fiction" is their new release and what a release it is! If I were to say it was full of dark images, that would be the understatement of the century ... and, if you have to ask that, you are apparently clueless about this extremely talented and twisted band. Trust me: They're worth investigating! 

"Fiction" is the latest Dark Tranquillity CD but check out any of their previous releases and, like me, you will be hooked. I think it's great to see a band this talented continue to pump out great music.

For more information visit http://www.darktranquillity.com

"Lost to Apathy" EP (Century Media; 2004)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

It pretty much goes without saying that Dark Tranquillity are probably one of my favorite bands. I discovered the band through great press that appeared on metal sites throughout the Internet which sung high praises for the band's approach and style. I purchased “Projector” shortly after its release in 1999 and I have been a big fan ever since. My fanaticism was incited even further by waiting ever so impatiently for the releases of “Haven” and “Damage Done” in the intervening years.

After what seems nearly ten years, but is really only about two, Dark Tranquillity have new material to set the metal world on flame. The “Lost To Apathy” EP is a teaser for the next full-length CD due from the band which is scheduled to be released in early February 2005. The EP contains four tracks, three of which serve as a glimpse into the latest creative journey for Dark Tranquillity.

The track “Lost To Apathy” is the same track that will appear on the forthcoming “Character” full-length CD. This song shows Dark Tranquillity digging deeper into their dark, melancholy past with the same kind of angered focus that marked 2002's stellar release “Damage Done.” The track is jam packed with riffs, stylistic twists, and has an epic feel without losing its aggressive center.

The track “Derivation TNB” is a cut-and-paste surgical experiment by the band's electronic guru Martin Brandstrom. This track, in all probability, features a number of musical passages slowed down into an atmospheric vibe with pitchshifting within the parts and throughout the whole to make it seem like one cohesive track. It's a neat glimpse into what the full-length “Character” might contain, but certainly without giving away too many sonic clues.

The track “The Endless Feed (Chaos Seed Remix)” is a seriously deranged version of a song that will appear on the forthcoming “Character” full-length. For the most part this track does sound like a remix, but what it does is reinforce the notion that Dark Tranquillity have in the midst a person who could create alternate versions of their albums in the vein that Fear Factory did with “Remanufacture” and “Fear Is The Mindkiller” remix albums.

The live track “Undo Control” appears in the DVD “Live Damage” and also as an audio only track on the “Exposures: In Retrospect and Denial” CD.

The EP also contains the video for “Lost To Apathy” and various screensavers of live pictures of the band from a concert at 2004 European and Scandinavian festivals.

Like most stop-gap EPs, “Lost To Apathy” will probably only appeal to fans of Dark Tranquillity that want as much of the group's official discography as they can gather. Most folks, even diehards, will probably exercise the patience to wait until the full-length “Character” is actually released.

The track “Lost To Apathy” was produced by Dark Tranquillity, the tracks “Derivation TNB” and “The Endless Feed (Chaos Seed Remix)” were produced by Martin Brandstrom.

Dark Tranquillity: Michael Stanne on vocals, Niklas Sundin and Martin Henriksson on guitars, Martin Brandstrom on electronics, Michael Nicklasson on bass, and Anders Jivarp on drums.

For more information visit http://www.darktranquillity.com

"Damage Done" (Century Media; 2002)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

It was with the utmost anticipation that I was awaiting for Dark Tranquillity's "Damage Done" - almost every night for nearly a month straight prior to the official release of "Damage Done" I listened to the mp3 'teaser' of "Monochromatic Stains" on the band's official website. 'Teaser?' - it only increased my appetite for the new disc to ravenous proportions.

Having thoroughly enjoyed "Projector" and completely adored "Haven" I was expecting many good things from "Damage Done." Would my high expectations get me in trouble again? The answer is a resounding 'no!'

"Final Resistance" gets things started in grand fashion as Dark Tranquillity pound out as fast a number that they've ever recorded. "Hours Passed In Exile" quickly follows and is a return to the style so expertly crafted on the previous disc "Haven." For another ten tracks, "Damage Done" exudes aggressive beauty from every corner of its existence. Highlights include "Single Part Of Two," "Cathode Ray Sunshine," "The Enemy," and "White Noise/Black Silence." "White Noise/Black Silence" is my favorite track.

Dark Tranquillity's ability to pound away relentlessly while finding the deft touch that melody provides is no easy trick. The expert melding of guitars, bass, keyboards, and drums is evidence of band that knows exactly what it wants in its songs. They've proven it before on prior releases and they're proving it again with "Damage Done." The use of keyboards and electronics isn't as prominent as it was on "Haven," but they aren't shirking in the background either. The keys and electronics weave their way in and out of the songs at the appropriate times giving the songs added shades of color and additional strength. As you've no doubt already heard or read, the guitar riffs are faster, heavier, and stronger on "Damage Done," but it's the arrangements that really suck the listener in. These aren't grandiose arrangements, but rather seamless changes that give each song variety within the track and uniqueness from other songs on the disc - that's quite an accomplishment. 

Mikael Stanne has reached new heights with his vocals and lyrics as well. His vocal delivery is confident and varied. Even though there are no clean vocals such as those that got the spotlight on "Projector," Stanne's execution is beyond amazing as his powerful rasp has reached new levels of enunciation and clarity. The lyrics speak with great gravity of betrayal, confusion, and pessimism borne of harsh realities. 

The North American release of "Damage Done" contains the bonus track "I, Deception."  

As if "Haven" wasn't enough proof, "Damage Done" displays a band in top-notch form finding and endless means to craft songs and express emotion. "Damage Done" is an essential album to have for those of you who like their metal aggressive and melodic. However, as great as "Damage Done" is, I don't think we've heard the best from Dark Tranquillity. Dark Tranquillity's bold experiments have ventured far in the last decade and will likely bring the band to uncharted territory for many years to come.

"Damage Done" was produced by Dark Tranquillity and Fredrik Nordstrom. Fredrik Nordstrom, longtime producer of great bands, lends his expertise again as he has done in the past.

Dark Tranquillity: Mikael Stanne on vocals, Niklas Sundin and Martin Henriksson on guitars, Michael Nicklasson on bass, Martin Brandstrom on keyboards, and Anders Jivarp on drums. 

For more information visit http://www.darktranquillity.com

"Damage Done" (Century Media; 2002)

Reviewed by TBJ

A brand new opus from one of Gothenburg's finest, Dark Tranquillity, has arrived. "Damage Done" is the album long time DT fans have been clamoring for, yet it is in no way retro or a way to exploit past achievements. What the DT guys have come up with here is a new musical mixture bringing in elements from past albums such as "The Mind's I," "Projector," and "Haven." Yes, there are speedy tracks (as in "The Mind's I," fuck yeah!!!), there are slow moody parts (as in "Projector"), and there are plenty of keyboard overtones (as in "Haven"). These elements, combined with almost the best vocal delivery I've heard in any DT album make out for an excellent release. 

The music is as multi-faceted as we have become accustomed to hear from the band. This time out the keyboards are not as upfront as in "Haven," they serve as background in some parts, but also take the spotlight when need be, bringing to the fore new progressive elements. The guitars sound harsher than on "Haven," the riffs are more "metal," I almost hear some Megadeth influences here (check out the breakdown in "The Treason Wall," which reminds me of "Tornado of Souls"). The bass playing is as great as ever, never taking over a song, but always lurking beneath the guitars to bring that extra edge. The drums are livelier, bringing back much needed aggressiveness. 

The songs themselves rarely fall into the established verse-chorus formula (with a few possible exceptions), they seem more technical, and more focused at the same time. 

With all this praise you might ask, "So, TBJ, why not give them a perfect score?" Well, the only low point I can pick out (and I mean the only one), is the absence of clean vocals. I have been an admirer of Mikael Stanne's clean vocals since the first time I heard them (they are similar to Depeche Mode, or New Wave in general, in that they are deep, resonating, very emotional, and with great range) but he seems to have decided on pursuing the ultimate "growl" (a feat that, in my estimation, he has achieved this time). But this only serves as a minor complaint. 

This is not nu-metal, this is not thrash, and this is not death metal. This is one of the better METAL albums I have heard this year. And I ask again, how do they do it?

Dark Tranquillity is: Martin Brändström - electronics; Michael Nicklasson - bass; Mikael Stanne - voice; Martin Henriksson - guitars; Anders Jivarp - drums; Niklas Sundin - guitars.

For more information, check out www.darktranquillity.com

"Haven" (Century Media; 2000)

Reviewed by TBJ

Long-time fans of Dark Tranquillity have endured criticism concerning the similarities between their favorite band and their partners-in-crime, In Flames. Well, those critics aren't that far from the truth.

Both bands come from the same place, they both play a melodic type of death metal, they both record at the same studio - hell, even In Flames vocalist Anders Friden co-owns the studio and engineered "Haven!"

There are many differences as well, though. One thing that separates them is that the execution of their music, although in the same vein as mentioned before, is totally different. Whereas Anders Friden's experimentations with his vocals have only scratched the surface of his potential, Mikael Stanne has fully developed both his death growl, and his clean melodic voice (this guy could front a pop-rock group anytime; thank God he hasn't).

Another difference is with the guitars. Whereas In Flames go for a more guitar-oriented sound, Dark Tranquillity opt for a more "orchestral" approach. The guitars are just part of the overall sound which involves both electronics, samples and different effects. It seems they also have acquired a full time keyboardist now and are using his skills to great effects.

Now to the songs: most of the songs on this disc seem shorter, more to the point (although containing many layers of sound) than on "Projector." The themes continue to explore the human soul, and the lyrics are ever-complex but not undecipherable.

Although the vocals fit the music perfectly, it seems the band probably thought they overused clean vocals last time around, hence, this time out, most of Mikael's delivery focuses on the growl. This is a disappointment in my mind considering the fact that his clean voice is strong and really helps set Dark Tranquillity apart from everyone else.

On a positive note we have an album which will appease their old fans and probably bring in new ones due to how "modern" this disc sounds.

Dark Tranquillity, along with In Flames, are bringing a whole new meaning to the term nu-metal, using no rap but employing modern sounds mixed in with classic influences and thus creating a whole new sound which others will emulate.

Dark Tranquillity are: Mikael Stanne- voice; Anders Jivarp - drums; Martin Henriksson - guitars;  Niklas Sundin - guitars; Michael Nicklasson - bass; Martin Brandstrom - electronics.

"Projector" (Century Media; 1999)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

"Projector" is Dark Tranquillity's first release with worldwide distribution and it could not come at a better time. Ten years of hard work and expanding skills have rewarded Dark Tranquillity with a growing fan base and a mature sound.

Although Dark Tranquillity hails from Sweden and gets lumped into the group of bands labeled with the "Gothenburg sound," it sounds like to me that Dark Tranquillity could easily have come from Germany. The sturm und drang of Dark Tranquillity's music is not exactly cathartic, but rather like a good movie that takes its viewer on a roller coaster of sobering emotions.

Dark Tranquillity's brand of melodic death metal with gothic influences and some industrial flavors is a fresh approach to this explosive style. Whereas most melodic death metal bands pretty much play at one constant speed, Dark Tranquillity have different paces to match their different moods. The guitar sound is dirty and abrasive, yet at times also reverb-laden and sweet sounding. Gothic-tinged keyboards also add a facet to the melodic death metal sound not heard on other bands' efforts.

Clean vocals are more prominent in Dark Tranquillity and this is atypical of most melodic death metal; the vocals are warmer and more robust than the current melodic death metal sound. The death metal growling is just that - growling, not undecipherable screaming guttural phlegm. The vocals in the slower, more gothic parts sound like Tiamat's Johan Edlund. Guest vocalist Johanna Andersson's performance on "UnDo Control" is a welcome addition to the varied palette of moods of "Projector."

The lyrics are introverted and personal - the words speak of fragile vulnerability and irreparable emotional damage. Its as if tormented days and despair are the only constants in the author's life. The lyrics seem to be a cold, icy acceptance of fate yet some sense of optimism creeps in from time to time; for example, the sincere desperation of "ThereIn" borders on being masochist yet also has a Zen-like statement "I starve myself for energy".

Dark Tranquillity is unafraid to take chances and "Projector" is remarkably consistent in its focus across ten tracks. "Projector" is a captivating example of melodic death metal.

"Projector" was produced by Dark Tranquillity and engineered by Fredrik Nordstrom (At The Gates, In Flames, Hammerfall, Gardenian).

Dark Tranquillity is Mikael Stanne on vocals, Fredrik Johansson and Niklas Sundin on guitars, Martin Henriksson on bass, and Anders Jivarp on drums. The keyboards are not credited on the disc, Martin Brandstom has since been hired to be the full-time keyboard player.

For more information visit Dark Tranquillity's official website at http://www.darktranquillity.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2013 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02 May 2017 21:24:56 -0400.