I have been hopelessly hooked on DARK TRANQUILLITY ever since I had first laid ears on “The Gallery” all the way back in 1995 and my ratings so far speak for themselves: “Of Chaos And Eternal Night” 8,5/10, “The Gallery” 9,5/10, “Projector” 9,5/10, “Haven” 9/10, “Damage Done” 9,5/10 and “Character” 9,5/10, so whenever a new album of the Swedes is on the horizons I get excited. Anno 2007 the object is bearing the title “Fiction” and my hopes are high, very high!
And from the get-go of “Nothing To No One” the Göteborgians have me in their grasp, not letting go until the very last notes of “The Mundane And The Magic” fade away… Throughout the years DARK TRANQUILLITY had been the only band of the original triumvirate of Melodic Death Metal to stay closer to its roots while still managing to evolving from album to album and while “Fiction” is more evolution than revolution, as some of the previous efforts had been, it still stands in full tradition of the Swedes’ line of fire, delivering modern melodic Death Metal with enough twists and turns to stand miles apart from the pack.
Produced by Danish knob-wizard Tue Madsen the gentlemen Stanne, Henriksson, Sundin, Nicklasson, Jivarp and Brandström continue to explore the many different facets of what you can do with Melodic Death, be it straight-up and heavy, dark and brooding, with clear vocals or also electronics, they never lose focus of the song and that is what makes DARK TRANQUILLITY the exceptional band they are. “Nothing To No One” sets out as aggressive and heavy track featuring the trademark razor sharp riffing, Mikael Stanne’s unique vocals and in the chorus piano and keyboards in the background, what a beginning!
Now before I start to name and describe every single song, I guess I should point out some of the especially striking representatives of this album, this being “Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive)”, which I personally put up there among the best DARK TRANQUILLITY songs ever, with incredible dynamics and melodies, the electronics are tastefully woven into the tapestry of the song, never distracting, but definitely adding to the song! If you like it straight forward and heavy, yet melodic, then “Blind At Heart” is yours, while the following “Icipher” and “Inside The Particle Storm” show a slower and very intense side of the band. “Misery’s Crown” sees the return of Stanne’s deep, clear voice, which gives parts of the track a Wave-like quality, but he also uses his charismatic gruff vocals to accentuate and give the song a little more bite, great! And closing “The Mundane And The Magic” is yet another surprise, with a few added female vocals. And that does in no way mean that the songs I did not mention were any drop off, not in the least!
It is almost scary to see the constant level of quality and innovation these six fellows come up with every single time, this is how modern Melodic Death should sound, without resorting to American riffing or other unfitting influences. “Fiction” is smooth, it is modern, it is DARK TRANQUILLITY, it is my Top album of 2007 so far!
(Online April 23, 2007)